UD students sleeping outside to support Dakota pipeline protest

University of Dayton students joined the national protest focused on the Dakota Access pipeline on Monday night when they decided to sleep in tents outside Marycrest Hall.

The students said the show of solidarity is the least they can do after what protesters have faced at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, where the pipeline is supposed to cross.

Temperatures in Dayton on Monday night are expected to slide to 37 degrees. Rain is in the forecast for Tuesday morning.

“We’ll survive,” junior Cody Ruffing said Monday night. “We’ll wake up in the morning. Having some discomfort tonight is the point.”

Ruffing and fellow students Sarah Richard and Celia Montemurri said they expected 50 or more students to join them through the night.

The group is scheduled to chat with a protester at Standing Rock via Skype and hear from from Guy Jones, founder of The Miami Valley Council for Native Americans. Students also planned to spend the night discussing the pipeline protests, reflecting and enjoying some music and hot drinks.

“We wanted to give them a little support, all the way over here in Dayton, Ohio, to show them that we think what they’re doing is right and justified,” Montemurri said.

Sunday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would deny a final easement allowing the $3.8 billion four-state pipeline to cross under a portion of the Missouri River. Army officials said they are now considering a different pipeline crossing farther north.

The project of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners would transport crude from North Dakota, through South Dakota, Iowa and to Illinois, where it would be able to provide oil for Midwest and Gulf Coast refineries.

According to the Dakota Access pipeline’s website, the conduit would help boost “America’s energy independence” as it would allow the transport of domestically produced crude oil.

The company released a statement, calling the decision “politically motivated,” cbsnews.com reported earlier Monday.

Thousands of protesters have been camped out near the site for months with no plans to leave, despite freezing weather and clashes with law enforcement that has led to more than 500 arrests.