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Activists spend night in Wheeler to foster 'open university'

| 08 December 2009

Approximately 50 student activists and others spent Monday night (Dec. 7) in Wheeler Hall, kicking off what they describe as a week-long effort to establish an "open university."

While it appears that the activists are making an effort not to disrupt scheduled classes and activities in the classroom building, campus administrators are monitoring the situation to ensure that the core business of the university is not unduly disrupted.

University spokesperson Dan Mogulof said, "So far there have been no major problems."

Most of the protesters appeared to have left the building Tuesday morning, though a few remained to clean up the area where they slept. The group's fliers indicate that their plans are not to shut down Wheeler Hall but to open its doors all week to the community. The activists have announced their intention to return this afternoon for a new round of what their fliers describe as "study sessions, teach-ins, concerts, forums, club meetings, dance parties and anything else our creative minds dream up."

While Wheeler Hall is open for campus business until 10 p.m., the students were not authorized to hold events inside the building. In addition, police cautioned the activists Monday night that they are subject to arrest and student conduct code disciplinary action if they continue to sleep in the building after it closes.

Representatives from the university's Campus Life and Leadership office have met with student leaders and are seeking to work out a plan that will accommodate the activists yet not infringe on the rights and interests of other students, faculty and staff who are busy preparing for finals and the end of semester.