Long before tipoff for Wednesday night’s Indiana men’s basketball game against North Carolina, IU students arrived at the Indiana University Alumni Association building, ready to spend the night on campus across from Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, waiting to get the best seats for the game.
Temperatures dropped by 30 degrees overnight and students sat out in heavy rain, but due to an IU campus policy, they weren’t allowed to pitch tents to stay dry.
“No one’s allowed to pitch a tent on campus, whether that’s waiting and lined up for basketball or on campus,” Indiana University Police Department Chief Jill Lees said. “We just told them to take them down.”
Lees said the policy stems from different protest situations at places on campus like Dunn Meadow, but she said she wasn’t sure where exactly the policy originated.
In 2021, after the City of Bloomington evicted those living in unhoused encampments, groups of IU students and Bloomington community members pitched tents across from Assembly Hall to protest in support of the unhoused population. IUPD told the protesters to dismantle the tents, but the protestors kept the tents up until the end of the NCAA Tournament game taking place in Assembly Hall.
Back in the 2011-12 school year, a protest movement called Occupy IU used the tent as a symbol of the movement, and two students were arrested in 2012 for keeping tents up after an order to remove them.
In 2011, ahead of an Indiana basketball game against the University of Kentucky, students who planned to camp out for a week were told to remove tents, at least partially due to the Occupy movement.
Tuesday night, students decided to bear the weather, sleeping under tarps or putting up umbrellas to try to break 20 mile per hour winds.
Daniel Larson, an IU senior who camped out for Wednesday night’s game, said IU should reexamine its policy.
“Students come down here (to camp out), and without the tent people were risking hypothermia,” Larson said. “We were all at one point shivering in the night. A tent would have fixed that.”
Lees said there wasn’t any consideration of an exemption for students camping out Tuesday.
“It doesn’t matter what the reason is or what the weather is, we cannot allow someone to have a tent,” Lees said.
Lees said IUPD has been regularly checking on the line, sending officers to make sure everyone is healthy, and was there herself this morning.
An Indiana Athletics spokesperson said the department’s policy is that students cannot have lawn chairs or tents on the athletics campus when the line at Assembly Hall officially opens at 2 p.m.