Pro-Palestinian camp at UofG fights back against Notice of Trespass

By Justine Fraser

The pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Guelph is facing legal action from the school, after a warning letter to leave campus was delivered over the weekend.

A statement from the school said a letter was delivered to the camp in Branion Plaza, Saturday, warning the camp to clear out by 8:00 p.m. Sunday.

If they did not, “the University will pursue legal action to end and remove it permanently and restore the university as a welcoming space for everyone.”

Social media posts from the camp decried the efforts from the University as unjust, and called for supporters to come to the camp at 8:00, Sunday night, to show their support. The posts also point out they were getting barely more than 24 hours notice to leave, saying the school was making an “escalation,” while “refusing to engage with the encampment’s demands in a tangible way for over a month and imposing constant surveillance and intimidation tactics.”

During a press conference July 8, organizers of the People’s Plaza for Palestine said they have now been given a notice of trespass by university administration.

“The University of Guelph administration is dedicating their time, money and resources towards legal proceedings towards us in order to safeguard their genocide profiteering, consulate absolute control over political expression on their private property and break solidarity between students, workers and community,” said the organizer, who wishes to remain anonymous.

“Instead they could focus on housing their students, paying their workers an adequate living wage, taking actual steps to end racism, harassment and discrimination on this campus and meeting our demands for divestment for genocide.”

The People’s Plaza for Palestine was joined by Independent Jewish Voices Guelph, Decolonial Solidarity Guelph, CUPE 3113, the Muslim Student Association, SOTEC for Palestine and UofG alumni for Palestine. All of whom, stated they stand with the protestors and students, wanting the university to divest funds that may be contributing to the attack in Gaza.

“There are many alumni here today to show our dissent and disapproval of UofG’s actions and their investment into arms and weapons. A group of alumni have come together and written an open letter to UofG to express our support and solidarity with the People’s Plaza for Palestine and their demands for divestment,” said a speaker for UofG’s alumni for Palestine.

“Students have the right to protest and dissent when UofG’s actions undermine it’s own mission statement and proposed values.”

A letter was dropped off after the press conference at the UofG administration building for Dr. Yates that was signed by 700 alumni of the university. They say they stand with the People’s Plaza for Palestine and support their calls for divestment.

Pro-Palestinian protestors inside UofG administration building July 8, 2024.

The statement from the University claims the encampment “precluded other members of our university community from making use of the space” the camp occupies.

It goes on to say, “The encampment members’ exclusive use of campus space is making it impossible for the University to maintain an inclusive campus and fulfill our commitment to create an environment where everyone can study, work and live without discrimination, harassment or intimidation.”

And, “As we look to the fall and welcoming students back to campus, we cannot permit any one group to have exclusive use of a space and deny access to those who do not share their views.”

This move from the school administration follows the University of Toronto getting its court injunction to clear out the camp on that campus, and after the University of Waterloo threatened its camp with an injunction process and a lawsuit for $1.5 million.

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