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CSU Says Alleged Racial Profiling Of Native American Students ‘Frustrating From Every Angle'

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The Morgan Library on Colorado State University's Fort Collins campus.

[Updated May 4, 2018, 11:50 a.m] Colorado State University on Friday invited the Gray family back to campus for a VIP, all expenses-paid tour to make up for the incident, according to a series of tweets from the school’s twitter account. The family has not responded to the offer.

Original story continues below. 

Colorado State University officials are investigating an alleged case of racial profiling that took place on campus earlier this week.

Two prospective CSU students, brothers Thomas Kanewakeron Gray, 19, and Skanahwati Lloyd Gray, 17, are Native American. They were on an Admissions tour on Monday, April 30, when a CSU police officer approached them for questioning.

In a letter addressed to students, school officials said an unidentified parent on the tour had called the police because they were nervous about the two men, who joined the tour in progress. Police removed the brothers for questioning.

School officials said CSUPD spoke with the men and confirmed they were a part of the tour. They were then allowed to rejoin the group, but it had already moved on without them.

The letter said the young men returned to Ammons Hall briefly then left campus to return home to New Mexico.

In a statement to KUNC, the men’s mother, Lorraine Kahneratokwas Gray, said her family was still processing the incident. She was unable to make the 7-hour trip with her sons to tour CSU’s campus, which they paid for by saving up their own money. 

After they were questioned by police, her sons called her franticly, unsure of what to do, she said.

“I was concerned for my sons’ safety and advised them to return home immediately,” she said. “Our family is shocked and saddened over this incident of racial profiling, and disappointed that the school didn’t take a more proactive stand in protecting my boys from being shamed in this hostile way.”

Kahneratokwas Gray added that her family is Mohawk from Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation in upstate New York, now living in Santa Cruz, New Mexico.

Gabriella Visani, the CSU tour guide present during the incident, wrote a letter to Kahneratokwas Gray apologizing for the incident. Kahneratokwas Gray posted the letter on her Facebook page Thursday.

"There was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about that tour," Visani wrote, "I didn't know anything had happened until I got back to the Admissions Office and was made aware of the situation by my supervisors." 

Visani said she was standing with the family and that she wished things had gone differently. 

In response, school officials are now considering their next steps. A letter from several campus leaders addressed to students Wednesday called the incident “sad and frustrating from nearly every angle.”

The Office of Admissions, Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Native American Cultural Center and the CSU Police Department are meeting to review how to avoid or handle something like this in the future, according to the letter, but it did not specify when that meeting would take place.

“The fact that these two students felt unwelcome on our campus while here as visitors runs counter to our principles of community and the goals and aspirations of the CSU Police Department, even as they are obligated to respond to an individual’s concern about public safety,” the letter said.

It was signed by Leslie Taylor, vice president for enrollment and access, Mary Ontiveros, vice president for diversity, and Dr. Blanche Hughes, vice president for student affairs.

The school said it had reached out to the two students’ family.

“As a University community, we deeply regret the experience of these students while they were guests on our campus,” the letter said.

I cover a wide range of issues within Colorado’s dynamic economy including energy, labor, housing, beer, marijuana, elections and other general assignment stories.
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