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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Change in Occupation

The+new+Occupy+camp.
The new Occupy camp.

 

 

While students were off at spring break doing what they do, Occupy UMass Boston was staying busy. During the one-week spring vacation, Occupy hosted a three-day event entitled “Occupy America Spring Break.” The event was described on their website as a three- day and three-night outdoor camp from March 15 until March 17.

During the event, the UMass Boston occupiers and their supporters engaged in an art workshop, community meals, a general assembly, a do-it-yourself film festival and the declaration of “Free School University: First Amendment Rights” and an “occuparty.”

The group also decided to move their tents from the first floor of the Campus Center to the courtyard in front of the Healey Library. Speaking about the cause of this change, student occupier and UMass Boston senior Stephanie Fail stated, “One of the reasons we decided to move outside was because we could use it as a negotiation chip.”

Fail added, “The administration wanted to have several events in the Campus Center which we would be getting in the way of. We agreed with the administration to move outside if [the occupiers] get to write the student code of conduct and affect a change in the ways student occupiers and protesters are treated by the school.”

According to Fail, Occupy UMB demanded protesters’ immunity from expulsion in the case of potential arrests, and excused absences for students who were absent due to involvement in protests with docu- mentation.

Associate Dean of Students Mark Jannoni explained that there have been verbal discussions but nothing has been set in stone. He also revealed that, although the administration informed the occupiers of the numerous complaints about them that had reached the Office of Student Affairs, Occupy UMass Boston was not forced to leave the Campus Center. He said, “We never asked [Occupy UMass Boston] to move outside. They came to us and said they wanted to move outside. We just forwarded the concerns of the entire community to them.”

According to Fail, other factors contributed to Occupy’s change of venue, including the need for more space, the warming weather and some new equipment.

The group also plans to table regularly in the Campus Center and have 25 percent of their group members stationed in the Campus Center as well. In reference to this development, Jannoni explained that the administration advised the Occupy group to become a registered stu- dent organization to receive tabling privileges.

According to Jannoni, Occupy will be granted tabling hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. After 4 p.m., Occupy will be asked to pack up for the day just as any other student group would be. Additionally, Occupy will be allowed one tent in the Campus Center to serve as a political symbol.

The tents were initially a cause of concern to the UMass Police Department. The officers, citing safety reasons and lack of written permission from the administration, asked the occupiers to uproot their tents. The occupiers got written permission from Jannoni and were subsequently granted permission to keep their tents on the premises until the end of the school year.

Timothy Gallant, political science major and occupier, stated, “I think it’s a good move. I think we need to maintain our presence all across campus. I don’t necessarily think there’s any superior location. I’m more pleased with the fact that we’re visible.”