Colorado State newspaper crusades for open meetings, greater transparency from university

Student Press Law Center: Colorado State University’s student government may have broken state transparency laws by trying to kick student reporters out of the student body president’s impeachment hearing. The incident adds to an ongoing perceived lack of transparency from the university’s student government and administration.

Erin Douglas, the editor-in-chief of The Rocky Mountain Collegian, spoke at the Sept. 13 meeting to dissuade the Associated Students of Colorado State University in Fort Collins from kicking out the media. She later published a letter from the editor arguing that doing so would have been illegal under the state’s Sunshine Law.

“The student body deserves to know why their student body president might be impeached,” she wrote.

The Collegian reported that although the senate chose not to go into the closed session because of her speech, they debated what to do with legal advice from the university’s General Counsel. The university claimed, contrary to Douglas, that ASCSU is not a state public body and thus is not subject to the law requiring state public bodies to hold open meetings. It also claimed that they may actually be legally required to keep the meeting closed because it is a personnel matter.

Connor Cheadle, a student senator who signed the impeachment petition, told The CollegianASCSU wasn’t trying to hide anything. “We don’t know what we can or we can’t say,” he said. “We don’t know what we can express because we don’t know if it’s legal or not.”

The Collegian has obtained legal counsel from the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, which sent a letter to the General Counsel’s office Sept. 28 urging them to advise ASCSU that it would be illegal for them to go into a closed executive session for an impeachment hearing.

Visit Student Press Law Center for more.

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