Auraria Police address sleeping trespassers

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Posted Thu, May 8, 2014

It's not unusual for students to catch 40 winks between classes. [Photos by Matthew Wyatt]

40 WINKS: It’s not unusual to find students catching a catnap between classes in the Tivoli and other Auraria campus buildings. [Photo by Matthew Wyatt]

DENVER, Auraria Campus — There is an old adage: “Sleeping helps you forget your problems for a while.” Apparently this axiom is true — especially on the Auraria campus. Individuals have been coming to campus to sleep and escape their problems since the campus opened. However, these slumbering individuals are not students, and have no ties to the college making it a problem for campus authorities.

“We really want an open and inviting environment for our students, staff and faculty and …visitors,” said Commander Jason Mollendor of the Auraria Police Department. “The problem is that most of the people that come into the building, that are not students, are here to misuse the facility. They are not paying student fees, they are not here to engage in the learning process, they are simply here to take advantage of the facilities that we do have.”

Citations

Between Dec. 8, 2013 and April 3, of this year, 13 times Auraria police have issued two citations for trespassing, given lots of warnings, and have arrested 10 individuals all after waking them up.  The events took place all over campus including the Arts Building, West Classroom, two outside in the grass, five in the Tivoli, two in the Cherry Creek Building, an incident in the Facilities Annex and in Central Classroom.

“It has always been a problem since the campus was founded, just because of our location,” Mollendor said. “We can go weeks without one, and there are times we might have five in one day. There is no rhyme or reason to it. When it happens it happens.”

But not all trespassers who come to sleep on campus are arrested, at least the first time. “A lot of times they don’t get arrested, during the day especially we give them at least three verbal warnings before they are cited,” Mollendor said. “So the ones we have received citations most likely have received previous warnings, or had been doing something a little more egregious than simply being in the building.”

Repeated Trespassers Will Be Banned

NAP TIME: A slumbering student is familiar sight to Tivoli visitors. But they are not trespassing.

NAP TIME: A slumbering student is familiar sight to Tivoli visitors. But they are not trespassing. [Photo by Matthew Wyatt]

But don’t push your luck; the campus police have procedures in place to make sure you are not a repeat offender.

“We do having a banning process on campus, as well where if we have people commit violent acts, or have violent criminal history, or have repeatedly trespass or committed offences on campus and they are not students. We will ban them from the Auraria Campus Education Center, and basically if you get a banning letter and you come back on campus, you will get a summons on site.

Day sleepers are not the major problem,trespassers will sneak into buildings while they are open, hide and spend the night. “Sometimes they will physically get in while a building is open, and then hide until the building locks and then go in a lounge or bathroom or something in that nature.”

No End In Sight

The campus does have a no camping policy. Mollendor says, “Basically we have never allowed it.”

Mollendor does not see the problem going away anytime soon either. With people attracted to the campus and doors remaining open there is no end in sight.  “We are in the middle of a major urban area, and with that there are individuals that are homeless that surround us. We actually have a soup kitchen that feeds the homeless every day at 11 a.m. They look for areas to sleep and to stay, and unfortunately that does mean our buildings.”

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About Matthew Wyatt

Matthew Wyatt is a journalism major and native american studies minor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. mwyatt8@msudenver.edu

View all posts by Matthew Wyatt

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