ASCSU will have a perception of a conflict of interest after accepting a donation from Campus Crest

The most important duty of our student government, according to the Associated Students of CSU website, is “advocating for student needs, whatever they may be.”

And while CSU students definitely need increased cheap, on-campus housing options, accepting a $5,000 donation from Campus Crest, the controversial developer behind the Grove, is not in line with this goal.

Campus Crest, which has a “D-” rating from the Better Business Bureau, owns 39 student housing projects across the country. These developments have been marred with concerns about sustainability and the treatment of its tenants, according to previous Collegian articles.

“The proper operation of student government requires that officials and employees be independent, impartial and responsible only to students of the university,” section 1-1 of the ASCSU Code of Ethics states. How, exactly, can ASCSU claim to be impartial and advocating for students when it receives a $5,000 donation from an organization that may potentially exploit them?

According to Andrew Oringer, the director of the student Senate’s sustainability division, ASCSU attempted to avoid potential conflicts of interest by ensuring that, “Campus Crest wasn’t looking for anything specific after the donation.”

But obvious conflicts of interest aside, it’s perception that really matters. How can a student who may potentially have concerns about Campus Crest truly think that their student government is on their side after it accepted $5,000 from the organization?

We genuinely believe that ASCSU officials do not think that this donation will create a conflict of interest as ASCSU tries to advocate for students. But again, it’s the perception of a conflict that can matter more than anything. Especially the perception of a conflict with a developer that has a history of treating its student tenants poorly.

The ASCSU Code of Ethics claims that, “… officers and employees of the Associated Students of Colorado State University shall at all times attempt to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.”

Student government may not think that there’s anything improprietous about accepting a donation from Campus Crest. But as their own Code of Ethics states, appearance still matters.