'Upside Down'


Mid-semester, Cal Poly Humboldt moves to enforce years-old policy, displace students living in vehicles on campus

Maddy Montiel was between classes on the morning of Oct. 25, about eight weeks shy of graduating from Cal Poly Humboldt with an environmental science and management degree, when their phone buzzed with a text message from their friend and neighbor Brad Butterfield. "They're kicking us out," Butterfield wrote, the "they" referring to campus administration and the "us" referencing the 15 or so students who live in vans and RVs in campus parking lots. "Everything just kind of got turned upside down from there," Montiel told the Journal. "It felt like the entire world stopped." Before Montiel had a chance to speak with Butterfield about the visit he'd received that morning from campus administrators advising him that he and his neighbors would have to vacate the parking lots in the coming weeks, they received a campuswide email from the administration with the subject line "enforcement of parking regulations." The email said there have been "an increasing number of RVs and other vehicles parked long-term" in campus lots in violation of a campus policy on the books since 2016 and creating "unsanitary and unsafe conditions for both those encamped and for our campus community at large." The email added that university police had received calls from "concerned members of the campus community expressing fear and frustration about the situation," warning the policy prohibiting sleeping in vehicles or camping on campus would soon "be enforced without exception." In subsequent meetings with campus administrators, Butterfield and Montiel say they have not gotten a clear answer as to why the university has decided to enforce a years-old policy midway through the semester. They say administrators have not provided them any documented examples of unsanitary or unsafe conditions. The Journal reached out to CPH's press office, asking what prompted the enforcement notice, how many students were being affected and for a copy of the policy in question. In response, the university provided the policy but did not answer the other questions. While Butterfield and Montiel say they do not believe they have received a straight answer as to what prompted the notice, they believe it may have been a response to students in so-called alternative living situations organizing and getting more media attention on campus. A few days before a campus staff member came knocking on Butterfield's RV door in the G11 parking lot, the CPH student newspaper The Lumberjack published a story headlined, "Students…



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