CAMPUS WATCH: Anti-Israel encampment erected at UBC, other universities take precautions
CAMPUS WATCH: Anti-Israel encampment erected at UBC, other universities take precautions

Radical anti-Israel protests have spread to several Canadian universities, including the University of British Columbia where a hostile encampment has been set up.   

Meanwhile, tensions have risen at McGill, the first Canadian university to get an encampment inspired by the one at Columbia University in the U.S.

Those taking part in the UBC encampment want the university “to divest from Israel’s settler colonial occupation, ethnic cleansing, and genocide of Palestinians, and to participate in global academic boycotts of Israeli universities,” as per a news release.

Footage of the UBC encampment shot by Global News shows activists wearing both keffiyeh scarves and N-95 masks. Protesters were also hostile towards the media, despite inviting them to their encampment.

Also seen at the UBC encampment were signs containing hateful messages, including one telling those who believe in the existence of a Jewish nation to “f**k off.”

In a statement, UBC said it “values freedom of expression and respects peaceful protest. We understand that some in our community want to protest the violence and war they see unfolding.”

“These actions must always be taken with respect for others and within the boundaries of university policy and the law,” UBC added.

“Any actions that create a health and safety risk, impede the university community (students, faculty and staff) from continuing learning, research, work and other activities on campus, or damage university property will be taken very seriously and investigated,” the university also noted.

Hillel B.C., a Jewish non-profit with a presence on UBC’s campus, said it has been in touch with the UBC administration “to express our concerns and to request measures that ensure the ongoing demonstrations remain peaceful and respectful.⁠”

The group wants to see the “enforcement of university policies that support a safe and conducive learning environment,” the taking of proactive measures “to prevent any disruption to student life and the educational process,” and for UBC’s campus to remain “a space where all students can feel secure and valued.⁠”

Other Canadian universities are meanwhile warning students that they will not tolerate encampments on their campuses.

At the University of Toronto, Vice-Provost Sandy Welsh issued a strong warning to students, threatening disciplinary action if they occupy the university’s campus.

“U of T’s lands and buildings are private property, though the university allows wide public access to them for authorized activities. Unauthorized activities such as encampments or the occupation of university buildings are considered trespassing,” the statement said.

“Any student involved in unauthorized activities or conduct that contravenes university policies or the law may be subject to consequences,” the statement added.

The University of Ottawa also issued a statement warning students that “encampments and occupations will not be tolerated.”

However, that statement did not stop University of Ottawa students from gathering on the front lawn of the administration building, Tabaret Hall, for a “sit-in” protest. Students were joined by controversial Ontario NDP MPP Joel Harden.

At McGill University, meanwhile, tensions have risen amidst students refusing to collaborate with the university administration, which has asked them to leave the premises. McGill is now asking Montreal police to get involved.

“As we have failed to reach a resolution, university leadership decided to take the final step in our protocol, and requested police assistance late afternoon yesterday,” said McGill in a statement. 

“Police representatives, who have expertise in skillfully resolving situations such as these, have now started their own process. We continue to work with them to resolve the matter,” the university added.

In an interview with True North Monday, a McGill encampment organizer refused to condemn Hamas and its Oct. 7 attack on Israel or call for the return of hostages

“It’s not even in the interest of the Israeli regime to have these hostages returned,” the organizer claimed.

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