Case Western shuts academic buildings during Republican convention, cites safety reasons

Dallas shootings prompted the decision, president says

Case Western Reserve University will shut down this week to ensure as few people as possible are on campus during the Republican National Convention (RNC), which is about five miles away. 

The institution will halt operations to ease concerns over possible protests in the city. The campus also will be housing 1,700 police officers and 200 Ohio National Guard members during the July 18 to July 21 event.

The shootings in Dallas, where five police officers were killed by sniper fire, prompted the decision to temporarily close, according to university Vice President Chris Sheridan.

"However slim or remote the chance might be that a disturbed individual or individuals might pose a threat to our campus, we had to think carefully about ways to reduce that potential danger," Sheridan says.

Safety considerations and procedures for special events on campus

About 280 students are living on campus right now during the busy summer semester. Case Western made arrangements to move those students to residence halls away from the police and guards, or to give rebates to those who want to move off campus during the convention.

The university asked professors to hold classes off campus, either in another location or online. The cafeteria is running a limited menu, and the library closed. At least one professor wrote an anonymous article in protest of housing the officers. 

Funding safety and security at public, urban universities

Many students and faculty members remain concerned over housing the police and National Guard. Case Western is one of five colleges in Cleveland that agreed to house out-of-town officers providing security during the RNC.

"There's a sense in which the university should be a scholarly environment, a sanctuary from the police state," says Taru Taylor, a law student at Case Western. 

University management of campus protests and unrest

Taylor also co-wrote a petition asking police to store weapons and gear off-campus, refrain from entering any campus buildings other than their assigned residence halls; refrain from using alcohol or drugs; and follow the university's weapons, anti-discrimination, and sexual harassment rules.

"In light of the national climate, [students] had concerns about police officers on campus in close proximity to them with weapons," Sheridan says.

Other schools in the area are also adjusting operations during the RNC. Cleveland State University will not hold classes on campus, while Cuyahoga Community College is closing several of its buildings close to the convention (Saul, New York Times, 7/14; Farkas, Plain Dealer, 7/12). 

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