Message from President DeSanctis Regarding Auraria Campus Disruptions

May 7, 2024

Dear CCD Community,

Before noon today, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, a large portion of the protesters stormed into the Tivoli Student Union, disrupting campus operations and threatening to occupy the building. ACPD intervened, and protesters marched through the building and returned to the encampment.

This occurred as Dr. Angie Paccione, Colorado Department of Higher Education’s Chief Executive Officer, met with protest leaders to hear their concerns. During that discussion, protesters stated their demands and once again threatened to disrupt commencements.

Additionally, at approximately 3:45 p.m. on Monday, May 6, 2024, protesters forcefully entered and occupied, without prior notice, the privately locked Auraria Higher Education Center (AHEC) executive offices in the Tivoli Student Union. Nearly a dozen protesters pushed past a student employee and conducted a sit-in, refusing to leave after being noticed they were trespassing while dozens of other protesters stood outside of the AHEC office shouting and banging on the windows. 

Following the occupation of the AHEC executive offices, campus staff, and law enforcement were able to negotiate a resolution with the protesters, leading to an agreement for a future meeting. The protesters eventually vacated the offices and returned to the encampment.

It is clear that protesters are escalating despite numerous attempts at an agreement toward a resolution. In addition to today’s and yesterday’s incidents, we have seen several instances of vandalism, trespassing, and operational disruption to campus and the surrounding areas. 

These escalating behaviors are unacceptable and inconsistent with CCD’s core values, further reinforcing our decision to transition CCD’s Auraria Campus operations remotely. 

It is crucial to reiterate that CCD does not condone any form of unlawful behavior. We expect all CCD students and employees to adhere to campus policies, codes of conduct, and state and local laws.


Dr. Marielena DeSanctis
Community College of Denver

Previous Statements:


FAQs About the Situation on the Auraria Campus

They are allowed and encouraged. We wholeheartedly support our community members’ right to peacefully assemble and protest, including at the recent demonstration on the Tivoli Quad. Auraria Campus institutions are deeply committed to healthy civic debate and freedom of expression.

Auraria Higher Education Center Policy 3.4.1 Peaceful Assembly on Campus

Police did not intervene because participants were exercising their First Amendment right to protest. It’s essential to note that during the current demonstration, some individuals defaced and damaged Auraria Campus property, which includes spray-painting and vandalism. Protesters also created an encampment, which is a violation of Auraria’s long-standing campus policy prohibiting camping. When protesters refused to remove the encampment, they were in violation of the policy and were then considered an unlawful protest and cited for trespassing. Police were dispersing the encampment and arresting those cited for trespassing. This action came only after numerous written and verbal requests to remove the camps and exhaustive efforts to engage protestors to understand their perspective and explain campus safety policies.

Auraria Higher Education Center Policy 2.2.2 Posters, Flyers, and Chalking on Campus

Auraria Higher Education Center Policy 7.2.6 Camping 

Auraria Higher Education Center Policy 7.2.3 Banning or Exclusion of Persons from the Auraria Campus

The health and safety of our campus community is our top priority.

Auraria Campus institutions have policies in place that protect the free exchange of ideas on campus while balancing the need to protect the health and safety of students, employees, and visitors. The policy that prohibits camping was established two decades ago to ensure a safe campus environment and our ability to operate and fulfill our academic mission.

As we saw with this current demonstration, encampments can force event cancellations and other campus disruptions. Encampments 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.

Furthermore, this stance aligns with broader efforts in the city to address homelessness. Denver Mayor Johnston signed an emergency declaration last summer to close encampments throughout Denver and help people experiencing homelessness get indoors. The initiative, known first as House1000 and now as the All In Mile High initiative, successfully housed 1,000 people by the end of 2023 and closed ten encampments. Moreover, as of April 1, 2024, the Denver City Council has approved a significant investment of $111.5 million for the All In Mile High initiative, further demonstrating the city's commitment to addressing homelessness comprehensively.

As Mayor Johnston continues to prioritize the All In Mile High initiative, it becomes evident that policies like the camping ban on the Auraria Campus are part of a larger strategy to ensure the well-being of the homeless population and the broader community.

It's essential to recognize that the Auraria Campus has not faced the same public health and safety crisis as the rest of Denver due to the long-standing, consistent, and repeated enforcement of the Auraria Campus camping ban policy. The Auraria Campus Police Department diligently monitors and enforces this policy, regularly noticing and arresting individuals attempting to camp on our campus.

By maintaining strict enforcement of the camping ban policy, we ensure a safer and more conducive environment for learning and community engagement on the Auraria Campus, contributing to our mission of academic excellence and student well-being.

The police presence was proportional to the situation for the safety of everyone involved. Police responded to the recent demonstration only after protesters failed to comply with numerous written and verbal requests to remove their encampment. The police presence on campus was necessary to reduce the potential for violence and injury and to ensure a safer environment as they worked to remove the camps.

No. As a public campus, we are committed to the principles of free speech and peaceful assembly. Since October 2023, the campus has had more than 20 peaceful protests, with Auraria Campus law enforcement only intervening during sporadic outbursts of violence or destruction of property. None of those protests involved encampments.

Protesters include students, faculty members, and many others not affiliated with our Auraria Campus institutions, including individuals who are part of a national campaign organizing on college campuses across the country.

About 40 protestors who did not comply with requests to remove their camps were arrested for trespassing or interfering with police operations after repeatedly being made aware they were in violation of policy and issued trespass warnings. Nearly half of those arrested are currently unaffiliated with Auraria Campus institutions.

It's important to note that none of those arrested for trespassing or interfering with police operations were CCD employees or students.

Campus leaders and professional staff have engaged with and met with relevant student group leaders and student government leaders several times.

We welcome healthy and open dialogue.

The protesters’ demands encompass incredibly complex political and economic issues that involve nuanced arguments from many perspectives. The Auraria Campus institutions don’t have control over the demands being made. For example, one of the demands is for the United States to discontinue aid to Israel.

We are interested in continuing to engage in discussions that foster a campus environment rooted in respectful dialogue and mutual understanding. Campus leaders have addressed these issues publicly and with protesters and will continue to do so.