Message from the CSU President, November 29, 2011
Dear Colleagues and Students:
Ethical and legal responsibilities in a learning community
By now, we’re all far more familiar than we want to be with the deeply troubling allegations facing Penn State University. While this case is likely to continue to play out for a long time to come, every university in the country ought to be looking at it as a tragic lesson in how an institution — and all of us as individuals — must be prepared to respond when serious problems and allegations arise. Colorado State University is a learning community and the right to feel safe here is fundamental to the life and integrity of this campus. Each of us has a responsibility, both ethical and legal, to uphold the safety and well-being of our community and one another.
I want to be extremely clear on this point. It is my expectation — and a requirement of state and federal law — that any members of our staff, faculty, or student body at Colorado State University who have reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has been committed will immediately report the suspected crime to law enforcement authorities. The laws also guarantee protections against retaliation to those who bring such issues forward.
Required by law to notify police if knowledge of a crime
To put it even more plainly: Any one of us — no matter our role or position at this university — is required by law to notify police if we believe we have knowledge of a crime, and no matter who is involved in the alleged crime, your job or student status will not be jeopardized simply because you contacted the police. Retaliation or reprisal for reports of misconduct brought forward in good faith is strictly prohibited by Colorado law. No one on this campus — no matter their role or stature — is above the law, and bringing your concerns forward is the right thing to do. In many cases, a failure to report has more than just moral implications — it can result in severe financial and legal penalties against the institution and those involved.
The U.S. Department of Education and the courts have also made it clear that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 offers all of us protection from sexual harassment or sexual violence in CSU educational programs and activities. Violations of Title IX and/or the University’s discrimination policies — even if they don’t rise to the level of criminal behavior — should be immediately reported to the Office of Equal Opportunity.
The following reporting mechanisms are freely available to the CSU community to bring issues of concern to the attention of the University and/or law enforcement:
CSU Police Department: (970) 491-6425, http://police.colostate.edu/
Fort Collins Police: (970) 221-6540
CSU Compliance Reporting Hotline: (970) 491-5552, http://reportinghotline.colostate.edu/
Mental Health and Safety Concerns—Tell Someone: (970) 491-1350, http://safety.colostate.edu/tell-someone.aspx
Discrimination/Harassment — Contact the Office of Equal Opportunity: (970) 491-5836, http://oeo.colostate.edu/
If you are interested in reviewing the applicable Colorado laws, they are posted on the CSUPD website.
In addition, as part of the University’s ongoing obligation to report crime statistics on campus to the U.S. Department of Education, the University has detailed information available at www.safety.colostate.edu.
New reporting mechanisms on campus
This email provides an opportunity to make you aware of two of the newest mechanisms we’ve put in place to encourage people to come forward if they have concerns. First is the new Compliance Reporting Hotline at http://reportinghotline.colostate.edu/. Colorado State University is committed to conducting its affairs transparently, ethically, and in compliance with all laws, regulations, and University policies, and all members of the University community are expected to share in this responsibility and to help prevent, detect, and address violations. To that end, University employees, students, and constituents may use the Compliance Reporting Hotline to report any such compliance issues. Reports can also be made anonymously using the Hotline.
The second resource is the University’s Public Safety website at http://www.safety.colostate.edu, which supplies options for campus members to report concerning behavior of students or employees who may be struggling with stress or mental health issues. These reports will be evaluated confidentially and the proper intervention and assistance will be offered to individuals as needed, with utmost respect for the privacy and legal rights of all those involved.
Please, if you are concerned about a student or an employee, tell someone.
The bottom line for each of us as individuals is simple: If you believe a crime has been committed, you are expected to contact the police. Colorado State University takes every allegation of illegal or unethical conduct seriously, and we have systems in place to ensure that all such reports are independently and thoughtfully reviewed and followed-up on through appropriate channels.
I am sorry to have to take such a serious tone, but this is a serious matter. As terrible as it is to say this, the allegations against Penn State could happen anywhere that people — even well-intentioned people — fail to uphold their legal and moral responsibilities to the law, society, and one another. If you have any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to contact me and we will provide whatever clarification is necessary.
Dr. Tony Frank