UC Santa Cruz offers alternatives to planned "Tent University"

Campus administration has offered to help create an alternative, more appropriate, and legal venue in lieu of a so-called "tent university" campsite, which has been locally promoted in recent weeks.

Serious consequences await violators of UCSC's no-camping policies
Organizers of the "tent university" campsite have been widely circulating flyers that invite students and community members to bring their own tents to "camp out" beginning April 18, at the intersection of Bay and High Streets. Flyers promote live music, entertainment, speeches, and student-taught courses.

While organizers claim that these activities are covered by "free speech" rights and are authorized by UCSC, campus officials have denied and discredited all claims that the advertised plans are sanctioned and will be allowed. Instead, if plans for erecting a "tent university" proceed, the university will enforce all relevant university policies and will apply maximum sanctions against violators.

"This is not an issue of free speech," said Chancellor Denice D. Denton. "Rather, it is a matter of ensuring students' safety and protecting the orderly conduct of our educational mission. Well-intentioned but uninformed students could jeopardize their academic careers because they don't understand the seriousness of the situation. While we fully support civil debate, open dialogue, and alternative educational experiences, we cannot ensure the safety of large numbers of students camping for an extended period at the entrance to the campus."

University officials have been in discussion with students for several weeks to consider another more suitable venue at which cultural and educational events can occur outside of the classroom environment. They also are seeking the support of local elected officials in their effort to thwart the creation of a campsite at the base of campus.

Modeled after "no camping" ordinances in the City of Santa Cruz, university policy as set forth in the Student Policies and Regulations Handbook (102.27b) prohibits camping on university-owned, controlled, or leased property.

Students violating these policies are subject to a range of consequences, up to and including fines, restitution, and suspension or dismissal from the university. If state laws or county ordinances are broken, then violators also will be subject to legal action.

"A university is the ideal venue for sharing ideas and working for positive change, but it is important for students to realize that there are consequences for violating university policies," Denton emphasized. "We encourage and welcome civil discourse, but the kind of event being promoted doesn't fit that description."

There are serious health and safety issues involved with the "tent university" scenario. The location would generate 24-hr. noise from loudspeakers and live music, disturbing the campus community, the child care center, and nearby neighbors. The danger of fire is a serious concern, as are sanitation and food preparation.

UCSC actively supports free speech and provides a multitude of opportunities for students to engage in productive discussion about a range of issues. There are several areas on campus where information may be distributed. Events with sponsored speakers and other venues for discussion and debate abound. For more information, contact the Student Affairs Office, (831) 459-4446.