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Trespass notice issued to pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Guelph

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A trespass notice was issued Monday to protestors at the pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Guelph.

Staff delivered the letter over the weekend asking members to “conclude the encampment peacefully” by 8 p.m. on Sunday, July 7. If they weren’t gone by the school’s deadline, protestors were warned that the school would take additional legal action.

Members of the encampment responded to the school’s request on Monday morning.

In a media release, they said U of G’s latest move was “another demonstration of bad faith.” They added that it was “unrealistic to dismantle in a safe manner in this time frame” and they refused to “comply with the unrealistic expectation to abide by the arbitrary deadlines set by administration with the threat of legal action.”

The University of Guelph held true to their promise.

“Unfortunately, encampment members have neither dismantled nor vacated. As such, [Monday] morning we took the step of serving a legal Notice of Trespass to members of the encampment,” their statement said, in part. “If the encampment does not disband and vacate Branion Plaza immediately, the university will seek an injunction order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.”

The encampment was set up nearly 50 days ago and, followed similar student movements at other Ontario universities, demanded that the school divest from Israeli companies that are profiting from the conflict in Palestine, along with other demands.

“Moving through this process was not our first choice,” the University of Guelph’s statement continued. “This development comes despite having provided substantial proposals in response to the requests of encampment representatives. The encampment’s unwillingness to consider anything short of immediate and full divestment dismisses the considerable actions the university is taking in support of fostering a more inclusive and welcoming campus community. As encampment members know, their requests concerning divestment are currently before an ad-hoc committee of the Board of Governors – a process activated by U of G for Palestine in March in accordance with the Special Action Policy.”

Celia Garcia, one of the students at the encampment, disagrees with the university’s position.

“U of G admin claims that they want to bring a ‘peaceful conclusion’ to the encampment. They have refused to engage with us, with our demands, for weeks now,” Garcia insisted. “They have given us only a single day’s notice to remove our encampment under the threat of legal action. They have constantly attempted to [observe] us and intimidate us. If they wanted a peaceful conclusion, they could have committed to divesting from weapons manufacturing, apartheid and genocide against Palestinians weeks ago.”

Garcia added that one day was not enough time to properly pack up the camp.

“The ‘People’s Plaza for Palestine’ has always planned to redistribute any excess materials and resources from our encampment to those who are unhoused in our city and to community programs after our stay here,” Garcia explained. “This process of packing and transferring these materials in an organized way to avoid damage and waste would take more than a single day’s notice to arrange.”

Another student, Abdullah Baabbullah, of the Muslim Student Association, said the encampment poses no threat to anyone on campus.

“[Encampment] participants have faced bigoted remarks creating a safety threat to them,” he said. “There is no place on our campus for hate and the encampment stands as a peaceful protest.”

The students weren’t sure what would happen next but if they do leave, they said they’ll continue to demand action from the school.

CTV News reached out the University of Guelph for an interview but the school declined our request.

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