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University of Waterloo says it's time to shut down encampment on campus

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The University of Waterloo is telling the people at an unauthorized encampment on campus that it’s time to leave.

Despite the warning, however, the tents haven’t been taken down and the message from protestors is clear.

“The encampment is not going away,” promised Nicholas Joseph, speaking on behalf of the Occupy UW group.

The university has formally asked the occupants to leave. In a notice letter, they cited six policy infractions that have occurred since the encampment was set up May 13: alleged trespass violations, installing banners and barricades without permission or inspection, and limiting other’s ability to use the space.

In a statement to CTV News, the school said, in part: “The university has been clear that the encampment located on Grad House Green cannot remain indefinitely. After the encampment ends, and like we did before the encampment started, we will continue to protect community member’s right to protest, assemble, associate, and exercise their rights to freedom of expression.”

“They’ve sent out an advisory or an email to all the students and faculty saying that they’re engaging in a dialog with us. This is absolutely false,” Joseph responded. “We’re here doing a peaceful protest. We have a high degree of organization. It is very safe and we’re not deterred by the university’s threats.”

The encampment was set up in solidarity with other campuses across North America. Together, they are demanding institutions disclose and end their financial relationships with companies that are supporting Israel’s war efforts in Gaza.

On Tuesday, tents also went up on the University of Guelph campus.

Response to on-campus encampments

Institutions have struggled in their efforts to address the protests.

Last week, McGill University announced it will seek a second injunction to remove the pro-Palestinian encampment on campus after a judge dismissed their first attempt.

“Well of course they’re always going to try and intimidate us and threaten us,” Joseph said. “I’m here as a student because I want to learn and pursue my career. But at the same time, I won’t do it at the cost of human rights.”

The formal letter to the protesters is not a legal eviction notice and does not give a specific date as to when they have to leave, but does say: “We require them to end the encampment immediately and to dismantle all structures they’ve erected on the Grad House Green.”

You can read the formal letter issued by the University of Waterloo here.

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