Tent City continues despite restrictions

Student activists successfully worked with the UVM policy regarding the construction of temporary structures this week, allowing them to keep protesting at Tent City, a demonstration that was recently threatened by the new policy. The policy, which restricts the construction and inhabitance of temporary structures on campus, conflicted with the annual presence of students camping out in the demonstration known as Tent City. Passed last summer, the policy requires that students receive permits before camping out on campus and regulates that permits are usually for 10 days with three consecutive nights of camping. Student activist group Student Labor Action Project (S.L.A.P.) maintains that Tent City is effective mainly because of its long-term presence on campus.Many members of S.L.A.P. speculate that the policy was specifically created to disrupt their protest. “It’s pretty clear that the policy was aimed at Tent City,” S.L.A.P. member and UVM sophomore Meg Tiley said. S.L.A.P. allied with the group Students Against War (S.A.W.) in order to extend the permits for sleeping and the presence of the tents, which are erected in front of Royall Tyler Theater. According to a letter sent out to the UVM community by S.L.A.P. last week, an additional permit was given to S.A.W. for another three nights of camping, but only after much confusion when dealing with the policy. At first, the groups were told that all livable wage paraphernalia needed to be removed from Tent City, because the protests for S.L.A.P. and S.A.W. needed to be distinct. The S.L.A.P. letter details that the requirement was later repealed after talks of a free speech violation. The permits for both the second period of camping and for the presence of the tents both expired last Sunday, although neither S.L.A.P. nor S.A.W. made any move towards taking down the structures, which remained empty most of the day and night. No one involved with the permitting process on the administrative side attempted to enforce the policy, of which Tent City was then in violation. After three days without a permit, the Tent City coalition of activist groups saw the addition of Students for Peace and Global Justice (S.F.P.G.J.), which was able to take out another 10-day permit for Tent City without incident, according to a member of S.L.A.P. “I don’t think they anticipated that we could get other groups to take out permits,” said Tiley on the success of S.F.P.G.J. “I think they thought we would just roll over and die.” According to a member of S.L.A.P., Tent City is not just a protest for livable wages anymore but “it has evolved into kind of a free speech forum.” An additional three nights of camping under the new S.F.P.G.L. permit will begin Wednesday.