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Encampment update 1

Message from Ruth Nyaamine, Assistant Vice-President, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. 

Ontario Tech University remains committed to promoting and advancing freedom of expression and fostering discourse on critical topics. With this commitment, there is a dual responsibility to ensure that all members of our community can reasonably pursue their work and studies in a safe, inclusive, and civil environment. The university is further obliged to ensure the safety of the entire campus community and facilities, and to uphold its legal obligations. Freedom of expression and association are important to distinguish from illegal encampment and trespass, particularly by individuals that are not members of the university community.

Timeline of encampment activities

May 6, 2024

A pro-Palestine encampment was established on Polonsky Commons at the university’s north Oshawa campus.

May 8, 2024

The university issued a letter to the encampment occupants explaining the necessary steps to obtain authorization for being on campus. It also detailed the university’s expectations, policies and the relevant provincial and federal laws they must follow while on university premises. The occupants had not obtained appropriate authorization, including necessary risk management protocols, for their encampment.

The occupants were asked to dismantle the encampment by Thursday, May 9 at 5 p.m. due to the associated health and safety risks and potential disruption resulting from planned activities on the space they are occupying commencing on Friday, May 10. The occupants rejected the university’s request.

To create space for shared perspectives and discourse, the university invited encampment occupants and/or student representatives to further the conversation in a mutually agreeable space. 

May 10, 2024

A meeting between the university and encampment representatives was held and the university felt that positive progress was made during this discussion. 

Following the discussion, the university provided the occupants with a response to their demands, which also included a request that the occupants dismantle and completely remove the encampment by Sunday, May 12 at 9 a.m. and asked for their response by Friday, May 10 at 6 p.m. 

It is important to note that their key demand centred on the divestment and disclosure of our aerospace investments. The university supported the disclosure of this information as well as an added commitment to expand access to education for Palestinian and other displaced students.

The occupants requested multiple extensions to prepare for their response, which the university granted in good faith. 

May 11, 2024

Following further extension requests to prepare for their response that was originally due Friday, May 10 at 6 p.m., the encampment representatives provided their formal written response to the university on May 11 at 6:30 p.m. 

The occupants responded that they would not remove the encampment and made additional demands that not only escalated what was initially requested, but also shifted in tone. They have now expanded their demands to include information on all our donors, with an apparent motive to identify individuals based on their Israeli heritage. Their new demands not only contravene legal, contractual, and ethical standards, but also undermine the university’s commitment to equity and inclusion for all community members, irrespective of their faith or ethnic background. Additionally, their response included inaccuracies and misleading statements as well as a clear injection of third-party interests by individuals who are not members of the university community.

The university issued the occupants with a trespass notice at approximately 1:15 p.m. and provided a written response that reiterated the health and safety concerns related to this illegal encampment, as well as the expectation that the occupants would dismantle and complete the removal of the encampment by Sunday, May 12 at 9 a.m.

The university also made it clear in its response that it is willing to continue to engage in genuine and constructive dialogue on the proposals already extended based on the original demands and discussion during the meeting of May 10.

May 12, 2024

The occupants responded to the university’s final May 11 communication stating that they will remain in the encampment until further discussions lead to final written agreement that satisfies their demands.