SEATTLE — Occupy Seattle is no longer welcome at a local community college, but the dozens of protesters who have been camping there don’t have to leave right away.
The Seattle Community College District’s board of trustees adopted an emergency rule Wednesday banning camping, a move aimed at evicting the Occupy Seattle protesters who have taken up residence at Seattle Central Community College.
College administrators said there have been reports of vandalism and they can’t afford to pay for the extra security and additional cleaning crews.
Jill Wakefield, chancellor of Seattle Community Colleges, wrote in a memo to the trustees that the camp was “overcrowded and unsanitary” and that multiple health inspections found health and safety concerns that included “animal feces, and drug dealing and usage.”
Wakefield also said the camp in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood was close to a child care facility and that the protesters’ presence had made the nearby playground “unusable.”
The protesters moved their encampment to the school late last month after city officials told them they couldn’t pitch overnight tents in a downtown park. College administrators had contacted state lawyers to find a legal way to remove protesters from campus grounds.
The emergency rule adopted Wednesday bans camping on community college property for up to four months.
College officials said protesters won’t be removed immediately but will likely be ousted in the coming days.
Students had complained of campers harassing them, prompting the school’s student body president to support getting rid of Occupy Seattle.
On Monday, Seattle police said they were investigating a sexual assault of a woman in the camp.
“That was the tipping point for me,” Seattle Central Community College President Paul Killpatrick said. “I feel it is not safe to be on campus.”
The packed meeting drew many supporters of the protesters, including teachers, union members and students.
“The movement will move forward,” said Thomas Patton, a protester who didn’t have immediate plans for his next campground. Earlier in the meeting, he gave an impassioned speech that asked trustees to work with his group, saying it was committed to making things work.