April 28, 2024

Dear Roadrunners, 

As we start the last full week of classes before final exams and Commencement, I want to provide an update on the protest happening on the Tivoli Quad.

The demonstration remains confined to the open space in front of the Tivoli Student Union, and campus is safe and open for normal operations. Mindful of what has been happening on other campuses around the country, Auraria institutions and law enforcement agencies continue to closely monitor the event, and we are taking all necessary precautions to ensure that our campus remains secure.

I want to emphasize that the health and safety of our students, employees and visitors is the University’s top priority. We strongly support our community members’ right to peacefully assemble and protest, including this demonstration on the Tivoli Quad. We have policies in place to ensure that free expression is balanced with the need to protect the health and safety of everyone on campus.

On Friday, police intervened in the protest not because participants were exercising their right to protest, but because they created an encampment, which is a violation of the Auraria Campus’ long-standing policy prohibiting camping. This policy was established two decades ago to ensure a safe campus environment and our ability to operate and fulfill our academic mission.

As we’ve seen over the past few days, encampments can force event cancellations, road closures and other campus disruptions. They also pose health and safety risks, as it is difficult to control their size, and the Auraria Campus does not have public facilities available 24-7.

After police removed an initial encampment, some protesters – many of whom are unaffiliated with the Auraria Campus – returned to the area and set up more tents, which currently remain on the site.

Campus administrators have engaged with protesters repeatedly and advised them of the camping-ban policy, including providing written copies. Several state and city officials and law enforcement professionals have also met with protesters in recent days to seek a resolution. For example, Denver Mayor Mike Johnston visited the Tivoli Quad on Friday to ask participants to remove their tents so that they could continue their peaceful protest.  While protestors have shown little willingness to have constructive dialogue, we will continue to attempt to communicate with protestors in hopes of reaching a resolution.

MSU Denver leaders have been coordinating closely with Auraria leaders, the governor and mayor on how best to balance our free-speech values with our duty to keep the campus safe for uninterrupted academic activities. We are also in contact with university leaders around the country who are managing similar events for their insights and support.

Meanwhile, Provost Niesen de Abruña has asked faculty members to be flexible with students, including allowing them to make up classwork, if possible.

Please visit AHEC’s website for continued updates on the protests and campus operations.

And remember, If you have safety concerns, contact the Auraria Police Department at 303-556-5000; text a tip to 720-593-TIPS (8477); or report instances of discrimination or harassment through the MSU Denver Office of Equal Opportunity.


Janine Davidson, Ph.D.

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