University responds: sexual violence not tolerated at CSU

*CORRECTION* (Sept. 3, 2013) The original draft of this guest column was attributed to Del Rae Moellenberg, but was sent by CSUPD, the CSU Office of Equal Opportunity, CSU Student Affairs and the CSU Women and Gender Advocacy Center. The Collegian regrets its error.

Dear Collegian and CSU community,

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The CSU community takes all forms of sexual harassment and sexual violence seriously. We also support students who choose to share their personal experiences in a public way, and encourage reporting so CSU can provide support resources and hold offender accountable.

A column written in the Collegian on August 26th suggests some confusion regarding CSU’s policies and actions related to sexual assault and sexual violence. It is important that students and employees understand that CSU actively investigates reports of sexual misconduct, and takes action based on the findings of the investigation. That action can include suspension or expulsion of students who are found responsible for sexual misconduct, or removal of responsible employees.

Reports of sexual misconduct also may be investigated by CSUPD, and may result in criminal consequences for an assailant.

In addition, CSU communicates regularly with students about resources related to sexual misconduct. Many CSU employees devote their time to responding to reports of sexual misconduct and to taking action to advocate for people who report assaults or sexual harassment, which is why we want to clarify inaccuracies in the column that may unintentionally discourage students from turning to CSU’s extensive resources to help them through such difficult situations.

To clarify some of the potential points of confusion, CSUPD, the CSU Office of Equal Opportunity and the CSU Division of Student Affairs would like to share some facts about CSU resources and policies related to sexual misconduct.

CSU policies, which are not contradictory, prohibit any acts of sexual harassment or sexual violence by its students or employees, encourage reporting, and all reports are taken seriously. The processes for investigating allegations against an employee and against a student are different, but the results can be similar.

Allegations of sexual harassment or sexual violence by an employee are processed through the Office of Equal Opportunity). Reports must typically be made within 180 days, but the Director has discretion to extend the deadline when there are compelling reasons to do so. The 180-day provision related to enforcement of university policy does not conflict with the state statute of limitations for action under criminal laws. A report may always be made directly to law enforcement, either separately or in conjunction with a report to the university under its policies.

Allegations of sexual harassment or violence by a student are investigated through the Office of Support and Safety Assessment and, when appropriate, referred to the Office of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services for review and possible action under the Student Conduct Code.

Both employee and student processes can result in a range of consequences for a person who is found responsible. In addition to the action taken by CSU, students, employees and all individuals always have a right to – and are encouraged to – also file a complaint directly with law enforcement authorities. There is no limit to a student’s right to report the incident to law enforcement authorities. A report to police may lead to investigation and prosecution of a crime, and if a student was assaulted by anyone, the university encourages them to report the incident to both the university and police.

CSU understands there may be a variety of factors that weigh into any individual’s decision of whether to report sexual harassment and when to report it. If significant time passes between the date of the incident and the date of a report to authorities, the availability of relevant information may be impacted.

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The Colorado State University Police Department plays a role in the application of university policy related to sexual misconduct, but is also responsible for enforcing state laws related to sexual offenses and takes that responsibility seriously.

CSU has many support resources available for students impacted by sexual harassment or violence, including:

Sexual Assault Victim Assistance Team 970-492-4242
CSU Health Network, Counseling Services 970-491-6053
Office of Case Management & Referral Coordination Services 970-491-8051
Office of Equal Opportunity  970- 491-5836
CSUPD 911 or 970-491-6425
Office of Support and Safety Assessment 970-491-5633

In addition to providing these support resources, CSU explores housing and academic adjustments that may assist students in the aftermath of an incident.

CSU is always open to a review of its policies and implementing changes where necessary or appropriate to better serve the campus community. University policies are put in place for the mutual protection of all, and exist to help prevent offenses from occurring, to educate employees and students about their rights and responsibilities, to help support impacted individuals, and implement due process in the investigation and response to reports of misconduct.

The bottom line? Sexual violence and sexual harassment are not tolerated at CSU. Reporting incidents provides the university with information to support those impacted by the incident, to investigate and to take action.

 

Thank you,

CSUPD

CSU Office of Equal Opportunity

CSU Student Affairs

CSU Women and Gender Advocacy Center