Wednesday, February 22, 2012
UNT changes its on-campus camping policy
Done in response to the Occupy Denton movement.
UNT administration has enacted a new policy following a meeting in early February prohibiting camping on campus after problems arose with the Occupy Denton movement in the fall.
The new policy follows in the wake of Occupy member Darwin Cox’s death from “mixed alcohol and morphine (heroin) intoxication,” according to the toxicology report, on the UNT Denton campus in December.
The policy forbids sleeping outdoors between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m., establishing or maintaining a temporary or permanent place for sleeping or cooking, establishing a permanent living quarters on university property, and sleeping in or under any parked vehicle.
“The policy has been enacted to ensure the safety of students and our community,” said Maureen McGuinness, dean of students and assistant vice president for student affairs. “We definitely looked at protest movements around the country, and lots of campuses enacted this policy. It’s all about keeping everyone safe.”
The policy states that students cannot camp out on university property, meaning no student is permitted to set up a tent or outdoor structure except under special conditions such as tailgating activities, events in connection with approved university activities which require overnight occupancy, or in extraordinary circumstances like natural disasters.
“This is something that we’ve been discussing for a while,” McGuinness said. “We should have addressed it before, but the policy is enacted now. We’re now aligning our other policies with this one.”
Those other policies include the free speech policy, which makes the whole campus a free speech area and mandates only organizations that are sponsored by outside organizations or use amplified sound to register for specific areas.
“Our university has always embraced diversity in all its forms,” UNT spokesman Buddy Price said. “This in no way changes that. The rights of students are very important to us. But then again, so is safety.”
Anthropology sophomore Mario Parga said the camping policy is justified, but if a student were to disobey the ban, they shouldn’t be punished in an extreme way.
“Personally, I believe that UNT as an entity could set up a camping ban,” he said. “But if someone were to not comply, I don’t think they should face any harsh treatment. The fact that Occupy started camping out kind of became a target for ridicule. Occupy taught us a lot.”
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