"We Call It WAC-ing It": Community Colleges Working On Permanent Camping Ban

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee December 9, 2011

As Occupy Seattle protesters pack up the last of their tents at Seattle Central Community College, school administrators are busy crafting changes to state law to prevent any protest groups from turning the school into a campground in the future.

Seattle Community College Chancellor Dr. Jill Wakefield says she's pushing for changes to the Washington Administrative Code, that would permanently ban camping on community college campuses. "We call it 'WAC-ing it,'"  she says.

When Occupy Seattle members initially voted to relocate from Westlake Park to Seattle Central, the school's administration balked, but ultimately relented after they discovered state laws don't actually prohibit camping on community college campuses.

School officials later unanimously voted to issue a 120-day emergency ban on camping on campus, effectively evicting Occupy Seattle.

"We're a college, not a campground," Wakefield says. "[Y]ou couldn't control...the health and safety issues. I really support the mission [and] the message of Occupy Seattle, but this is the wrong place to be. I didn't want to be dealing with some terrible tragedy because we didn't address the issue."

Wakefield says the 72-hour deadline for Occupy to move off campus ends sometime this evening, but declined to discuss any hard deadline for their relocation. "At this point we're working with the law enforcement authorities and monitoring what the next steps are hour by hour," she says. "The tents are coming down. We hear they intend to move this weekend, and that would be satisfactory"

When asked if she learned anything from the Occupy experience, Wakefield joked, "Ask me in a couple weeks and I'll probably have a better perspective. I'll probably be outside the weeds, or outside the tents, I guess."

Photo via Flickr.
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