UC Berkeley student organization members received an email last Monday indicating that Upper Sproul Plaza is closed to campus activities between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.
The ASUC Student Union and the LEAD Center sent the email to all student organizations, citing campus guidelines. According to the email, student organizations cannot use the space — including arriving early to hold a tabling space — during those times.
Campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff said as Sproul is the “epicenter” of public expression on campus, it is open to the public between 6 a.m. and midnight, but students were reminded of Sproul’s overnight hours policy because of concerns for student safety.
“As you likely heard, we sent out a reminder to all students about the policy regarding Sproul Plaza as we learned that some student organizations were using the space during prohibited hours,” Ratliff said in an email. “Student safety is our no. 1 priority.”
Ratliff added that this campus policy is not new and has been in effect for some time.
The email also noted that UCPD monitors the area during these hours and that both the ASUC Student Union and the LEAD Center have asked UCPD to send contact information of students it engages with during Sproul’s overnight hours. According to the email, both organizations will follow up with any students referred by UCPD.
“This policy is controlled by Student Affairs,” UCPD Chief Margo Bennett said in an email. “The reminders put forward by that email are not new so activity involving policing practices have not changed.”
According to campus policy, the area is “generally” closed to all activities with the exception of crossing the campus or traveling between campus buildings. Because Sproul is traditionally used for discussion and free expression, the policy states that use of the area is limited when it interferes with “orderly conduct” of university business or authorized events.
The email also stated that the campus grounds team cleans the plaza between the hours of 3 and 7 a.m. to ensure a clean space for campus organizations to table. Student organizations were also reminded about campus guidelines regarding flyering and chalking.
Campus junior Parth Nobel shared his thoughts on the issue. According to Nobel, all but one spot had been taken on Sproul when he arrived “sharply” at 6 a.m.
“The idea that Sproul is actually closed before 6AM continues to be laughable,” Nobel said in a Facebook message. “Without real change, whether that be the LEAD Center enforcing the Sproul closure or a completely new approach to distributing Sprouling locations, clubs will continue to show up at ungodly hours of the morning.”