There is no law against coming into a public building to get a cup of coffee, to get warm or to use the restroom. Colorado State University is a campus where the public can come and go as they please, according to CSU Police Chief Scott Harris.
Unless there is no legitimate purpose, traveling the CSU campus is perfectly legal.
Trespassing is considered entering or remaining unlawfully in or upon property, whether publicly or privately owned, according to the Colorado Municipal Code 17-40. The University uses that definition, as well as the definition under the Colorado Revised Statutes 18-4-502.
Five of the most common buildings in which trespassing has occurred since January 2013 include the Lory Student Center, the Clark buildings, Ingersoll Hall, Hughes Stadium and Corbett Hall, according to statistics from the CSU Police Department.
“It is typically the ones that are generally used by both students, staff and the public,” Harris said. “We have to balance our consequences and enforcement around trespassing because we are dealing with an institution that is open to the public.”
There have been two arrests and six citations for trespassing at the LSC since January 2013. Just three of those citations were given to students. The LSC was under construction until fall of 2014.
“The building manager is usually the first person we call,” said Rachel Lockwood, a senior biology major who works at the LSC info desk. “(If) it is an emergency, we go straight to the police.”
Center Avenue Mall, in the heart of campus, is one of the most common places in which trespassing has occurred. There have been 18 recorded incidents from the 1000 block to the 1400 block of Center Avenue Mall.
“We have to balance if there is a legitimate reason for them to be here, or (if) they just here because they are seeking shelter,” Harris said.
The University has the option to issue an exclusionary order if there is a repeat offender. An exclusionary order prohibits that person from coming into a specific building or buildings, or the entire campus in general, according to Harris.
The Morgan Library Cube is an example of a public place on campus that has limited use for those who are not associated with the University.
“Only University affiliates are allowed to use the Cube after the main portion of the Morgan Library closes,” Morgan Library Building Coordinator Jim Farmer wrote in an email to the Collegian.
There have been eight arrests on the CSU campus for trespassing since January 2013. Half of those incidents have occurred during the evening from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., and the other half have occurred during the daytime from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“Sometimes we see this with people who are transient and they are looking for a warm place,” Harris said. “We inform them of the trespass issues and ask them to move along. Typically that’s successful.”
Harris said officers usually do not become aware of those people unless they are camping out, sleeping or have all of their belongings around them. He said most people that are on the CSU campus have legitimate reasons to be there.
“If someone who is working in a building sees someone who is in that building for an inordinate amount of time (and) they’re not attending class, they’re not doing research, they’re not interacting with staff, they’re not there for business, it has a tendency to let those people know that is someone who may not have a legitimate purpose there,” Harris said.
Some may not know what to do if they were put in a position where a crime was about to take place. Whether that be on or off campus, CSU police are working toward having everyone make the campus as safe as possible.
“If you are in a building and you go there every day, and you see someone that you may think is suspicious or out of place, if it strikes you as being uncommon, then there is no harm in giving us a call and letting us investigate too,” Harris said.
Collegian Assistant News Editor Christina Vessa can be reached online at email@example.com or on Twitter at @chrissyvessa.