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University of Waterloo issues trespass notice to Occupy UW encampment

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The University of Waterloo wants Occupy UW to move their encampment off school grounds.

On Friday, they issued a legal trespass notice to demonstrators.

“That notice requires them to disband and leave the encampment immediately, and not bring it back to campus,” Nick Manning, University of Waterloo spokesperson, said in an interview with CTV News.

Tents and signs went up on May 13 as part of a wave of pro-Palestinian demonstrations at post-secondary institutions across Canada and the United States.

While members of the encampment don’t agree with the school’s latest move, the trespass notice wasn’t a complete surprise.

“We think it’s absolutely absurd,” Nicholas Joseph, a media liaison for Occupy UW, said. “It’s quite obvious that the university would rather prioritize its profits and it would sacrifice the wellbeing of its own students.”

Joseph added that there will be no changes at the encampment as a result of the notice.

“It’s not going to deter us or sway our decision in any way,” he said. “We are going to continue advocating for Palestinian human rights the best way that we know how.”

On Monday, protestors held a sit-in at the University of Waterloo’s board of governors meeting. Occupy UW set up a tent inside the building where the meeting was being held and were also seen chanting and yelling in video taken of the incident.

“This action follows weeks of bad faith engagements, refusals to negotiate, lies, and repeated smears about the encampment,” said Occupy UW in a media release Wednesday.

Occupy UW disrupts a board of governors meeting on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Submitted/OccupyUW)

The group continues to demand action from the university. Their latest request involves Technion. Occupy UW claims the school is a research arm of Israeli Defense Forces.

“We demand that the university boycott from all Israeli institutions and goods, and we demand that the university divest from all companies on the BDS list, as well as all weapons manufacturers and defence contractors," Sarah Ahmed, a member of Occupy UW, said Wednesday.

The school responded on Friday.

“This week’s protest is just one of a number of instances that we’ve seen of that behaviour that’s crossing a line towards intimidation and harassment that’s making the encampment untenable,” Manning explained. “Enforcing this notice could involve arrest, or a fine of up to $10,000 for people who don’t comply. But we’re taking time to consider the actions of the encampment, and all of our legal and policy options.”

“The university has protected everyone’s right to free speech and expression throughout this protest activity,” Friday’s statement from the university continued. “This has included myriad disruptive protest actions on campus since November 2023. However, the behaviour of encampment members is becoming untenable, and in addition to violating several items listed on our list of prohibited activities and various University of Waterloo policies, is causing greater disruption to the normal business of the university.”

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