UVM activists “box up” Tent City

Despite being granted a permit for an additional three nights of camping, Tent City has been temporarily disbanded by student activists who say their message was being muddled.

Many of the materials which were used to construct the main tent in front of the Royall Tyler Theater were symbolically boxed-up and signs were made explaining the new direction to passers-by, last Monday.

The activist groups which were in charge of Tent City felt that a new University policy restricting their ability to camp overnight was hindering their ability to effectively spread their messages.

Since it was first erected over three weeks ago, Tent City has been under the jurisdiction of the Student Labor Action Project (S.L.A.P.), Students Against War (S.A.W.) and, most recently, Students For Global Peace and Justice (S.F.G.P.J.).

“We do have permission to be camping, but we chose to turn it [Tent City] into a symbolic structure. There will be no camping,” Lindsey Gilles, a UVM sophomore and a member of S.L.A.P., said.

Gilles said that because of the difficulties which Tent City organizers have had with the new temporary structures policy, it seemed more important to “focus on free speech and the policy issue.”

Despite claims of free speech infringement, President Daniel Mark Fogel, in a letter to S.L.A.P., maintained that the policy was meant to address safety issues and a Burlington City ordinance which limits the time temporary structures can be inhabited in the city.

The groups hope that the shift from messages about livable wages and divestment toward a more unified focus on the new policy and possible free speech infringements will have a greater effect on the administration.

“If we were allowed to camp there and had the ability to use the space as we wanted to, then there might be more pressure,” Gilles said.