With only one day to spare before Occupy Seattle moves to his campus, Seattle Central Community College (SCCC) president Paul Killpatrick says he consulted lawyers, thought long and hard, and met with protesters who promised to bring porta-potties. Then today he announced that—while he's worried about the protest's safety risk and "financial impact"—the campus occupation would amount to "lawful freedom of speech activities."
The background harks way back to Monday, when Occupy Seattle voted to move its nighttime base camp beginning on Saturday night to SCCC, despite Killpatrick's resistance. The college followed up two days later with a tepid open letter.
But Killpatrick's memo to the college's "campus community" today declares that the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) "as it is currently written, allows this occupation to take place."
Killpatrick's letter is after the jump.
TO: Campus Community
FROM: Paul T. Killpatrick, President
DATE: October 28, 2011
SUBJECT: Occupy Seattle Update
I would like to update you on the intentions of Occupy Seattle to have an encampment at Seattle Central Community College for their lawful freedom of speech activities.
Over the past few days, I have been in discussions with legal counsel, representatives from the community, city and state, and also with members of Occupy Seattle. In my discussions with legal counsel, we learned of ambiguity in Washington Administrative Code (WAC) as it applies to college property.
My primary concern remains the safety and security of our students, faculty, staff and surrounding Capitol Hill community.
Yesterday, I met with representatives from Occupy Seattle. They declared that regardless of college policies and college concerns, they intend to continue their action. While I remain concerned about a host of possible adverse impacts (personal safety, financial impact, etc.), the WAC, as it is currently written, allows this occupation to take place.
Occupy Seattle has assured me that they will not interfere with the mission of Seattle Central Community College, which is: “To promote educational excellence in a multicultural urban environment, and provide opportunities for academic achievement, workplace preparation, and service to the community.” They also offered a number of other assurances, including: providing porta-potties, garbage and recycling containers, protect college property from damage (graffiti, grounds damage, acts of vandalism, etc.,), self-policing their group, and not interfering or disrupting authorized events such as the Broadway Farmers Market or performances at Broadway Performance Hall. They also assure me that their activities will not interfere with the college’s ability to offer a safe learning environment for students, faculty and staff. I expect Occupy Seattle to honor these assurances.
Occupy Seattle’s intention is to begin their encampment on the South Plaza lawn beginning this Saturday, October 29. They informed us that they plan to continue their activities at Westlake during the day and camp at Seattle Central at night.
We will be monitoring the situation closely and will continue to keep the college community informed.