On April 16, 1993, a group of male students at the University of Colorado got into a fight with another group of males not associated with the university; this fight unleashed a broader debate over who should have access to the public spaces surrounding the university. We examine this debate in terms of its implications for citizenship, public space, and community. We discuss conflicts over public space and the role these conflicts have played in defining a citizenship that rejects notions of equal membership in a larger polity. This strategy is examined using newspaper accounts, interviews and participant observation techniques to understand the conflict over access to “the Hill” in Boulder, Colorado. Central to these conflicts is the issue of how “the public” is constituted. As we detail the actions of agents involved in the Hill, it will become clear that this fight is about competing definitions of who belongs to the public, who is a citizen, and what should be the criteria for membership in the public or community.
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