University of Guelph issues trespass notice to encampment protesters | CBC News

The University of Guelph has issued a legal notice of trespass to members of a pro-Palestinian encampment on the southern Ontario school’s campus, seven weeks after tents first went up.

Members of the encampment, however, say they have no plans to leave right now.

In a statement on its website Monday morning, the university said it had asked encampment members to vacate voluntarily over the weekend.

“In our letter to encampment members, we were clear that the encampment cannot remain on campus indefinitely and requested they leave by 8 p.m. on Sunday,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, encampment members have neither dismantled nor vacated. As such, this morning we took the step of serving a legal notice of trespass to members of the encampment.”

Encampment members argued the timeframe given to close their camp was “unrealistic.”

In a statement, the People’s Plaza for Palestine says it has decided to keep the camp open past the university’s Sunday night deadline because it’s not enough time to dismantle it safely.

“For the administration to demand removal with barely 24 hours after a month of no communication since they rejected our proposals is another demonstration of bad faith and constant intimidation tactics taken by the university,” the encampment’s emailed statement said.

University to seek injunction

The university said it will now seek an injunction order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice if the encampment members do not disband immediately.

“Moving through this process was not our first choice,” the university’s online statement said.

“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.”

The University of Guelph said in the statement that the camp’s demands to divest are currently being considered by an ad-hoc committee at the university.

Encampment set up ‘in solidarity with Gaza’

A group called UOGForPalestine organized the approximately 20 tents in Branion Plaza, near the school’s library, on May 21, similar to protests set up at other universities in Canada and the U.S.

According to the group’s Instagram page, it’s protesting “in solidarity with Gaza and as a continuation of our fight for the University of Guelph to divest from genocide.”

Waida Mirzada, a University of Guelph student and spokesperson for the encampment group, said it has been “mobilizing for months” to have its message heard by the university.

Waterloo encampment dismantled

Also in the region, on Sunday, protesters dismantled an encampment at the University of Waterloo that started on May 13. The university issued a legal trespass notice to encampment members after it had sent out a formal notice on May 23 telling group members to end the protest.

WATCH | Pro-Palestinian protesters dismantle encampment on UW grounds:

Pro-Palestinian protesters dismantle encampment on UW grounds

After eight weeks of protests on the University of Waterloo campus, members of Occupy UWaterloo voluntarily dismantled their encampment on Sunday. Officials with the group say its goal has been to persuade the university to divest from any company that supports Israel in the ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza. The school had issued a legal trespass notice and were in the process of suing some members for $1.5 million in damages, but said the lawsuit would be dropped when the encampment was gone.

On June 25, the university started legal proceedings to seek an injunction to end the on-campus encampment and suesome group members for $1.5 million for damages.

Mediation talks between the university and protesters were held on Friday, prior to the announcement that the encampment would be dismantled.

Other similar pro-Palestinian protests and encampments have included McGill University in Montreal, the University of Toronto, McMaster University in Hamilton and the University of Windsor. Several have already been dismantled.

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