November 11, 2011

Citing safety, UCPD shuts down rooftop UT performance

An unsupervised performance on the roof of Ryerson Physical Laboratory with University Theater (UT) members was shut down by the UCPD last Wednesday night.

The performance, called “Shakespeare Under The Stars,” began at 10 p.m. and was interrupted about an hour later by UCPD officers who observed the students on the roof of the building during a routine building check, according to UCPD Chief Marlon Lynch.

The officers asked students to leave because there was no faculty member present, the building was closed, and the scaffolding on the roof posed a safety hazard, Lynch said.

No students were arrested during the incident and Lynch said that the incident was classified as an event, and no full police report was written.

Several students who attended the performance said that alcohol was present, but Lynch said that the officer who shut down the event did not report alcohol as a factor in his request that students leave the roof.

First-year Anna Meredith said that event attendees were confused when the UCPD arrived.

“None of [us] really knew what was going on,” she said.

Fourth-year Amanda Fink said in an e-mail message that the Dean’s Men has held the event once before, jointly with the Ryerson Astronomical Society (RAS). RAS members operated the telescope on top of Ryerson, while actors read aloud passages from Shakespeare that allude to the heavens aloud. Fink added that no alcohol was provided by the Dean’s Men and that the group did not talk to the UCPD.

“It was confusing and incredulous,” Meridith said in the e-mail, “that the University of Chicago would shut down a bunch of students reading Shakespearean sonnets. But it wasn’t a negative encounter or aggressive. [People were] just mostly laughing. Some took it more serious than others.”

—Additional reporting by Rebecca Guterman