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University of Guelph issues eviction notice to protesters at camp

University of Guelph issues eviction notice to protesters at camp
University of Guelph issues eviction notice to protesters at camp

The University of Guelph has issued a legal warning of trespassing to members of a pro-Palestinian camp on the school’s campus in southern Ontario, seven weeks after the first tents were set up.

However, members of the camp say they have no plans to leave at this time.

The university said in a statement on its website Monday morning that it had asked camp members to voluntarily leave for the weekend.

“In our letter to the camp members, we made it clear that the camp cannot remain on campus indefinitely and requested that they vacate by 8 p.m. Sunday,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, the camp members have not dismantled or vacated it. Therefore, we have taken the step this morning to send the camp members a legal notice of violation.”

Camp members claimed the timeframe for closing the camp was “unrealistic.”

People’s Plaza for Palestine said in a statement that it decided to keep the camp open beyond the university’s deadline of Sunday night because there is not enough time to safely dismantle the camp.

“For the administration to demand removal within 24 hours of a month of no communication since they rejected our proposals is further evidence of bad faith and continued intimidation tactics by the university,” the camp’s email statement said.

University seeks court order

The university has indicated that it will now seek an injunction from the Ontario Supreme Court if the camp members do not immediately disband.

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

“The camp’s reluctance to consider anything other than immediate and complete divestment fails to do justice to the significant steps the university is taking to create a more inclusive and welcoming campus community.”

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

Camp set up ‘in solidarity with Gaza’

A group called UOGForPalestine organized about 20 tents on 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, the group is protesting “in solidarity with Gaza and as a continuation of our fight to stop the University of Guelph from committing genocide.”

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

Camp Waterloo dismantled

Also in the region, protesters on Sunday dismantled an encampment at the University of Waterloo that had begun on May 13. The university issued a legal trespassing notice to members of the encampment after sending a formal notice on May 23 asking group members to end the protest.

WATCH | Pro-Palestinian protesters dismantle camp on UW site:

Pro-Palestinian protesters dismantle camp on UW site

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 the goal was to convince the university to divest from any business that supports Israel in its ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza. The school had issued a legal notice of violation and was in the process of suing some of its members for $1.5 million in damages, but said it would drop the lawsuit once the encampment dissipated.

On June 25, the university filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to end the camp on campus and sue the group’s members, as well as $1.5 million in damages.

Mediation talks between the university and the protesters took place on Friday, prior to the announcement that the camp 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.