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U of T gives encampment 24 hours to consider latest offer

The University of Toronto says students involved in a pro-Palestinian encampment have 24 hours to consider its latest offer that it made public on Thursday in a bid to bring an end to the demonstration.

In a news conference on Thursday afternoon, U of T President Meric Gertler said the university will issue a trespass notice if the students do not accept the offer within the time provided, adding he hopes they will obey the law.

“The encampment must end,” Gertler said in a statement posted on the school’s website.

“Should an agreement not be reached, we will issue a notice of trespass and pursue any subsequent legal steps,” he added. “We have made it very clear that they have 24 hours to consider our offer but we are happy to continue talking.”

Gertler said in the statement that the university will not end partnerships with Israeli universities — one of three demands made by demonstrators — because it is committed to academic freedom.

“Our approach remains guided by our effort to balance our shared values, people’s foundational rights and freedoms, and a desire for a peaceful resolution. We hope that the representatives will accept our offer.”

Offer includes working group on disclosure

The offer includes an invitation to the students to attend the university’s business board of governing council’s meeting on June 19 to present their demands, as well as a working group to consider options for disclosure and increased transparency of investments. Gertler said the working group will have the power to make recommendations.

Once the students present their demands to the university’s business board of governing council, the university “will engage in — and expeditiously, where possible — a review of the divestment request under the terms and process of the university’s policy on social and political issues with respect to university divestment,” he added.

Gertler said the offer is conditional on the encampment clearing and not resuming at any campus of the university.

University of Toronto President Meric Gertler speaks to reporters about the university’s latest offer to students to end a pro-Palestinian encampment on campus.

University of Toronto President Meric Gertler speaks to reporters about the school’s latest offer to students to end a pro-Palestinian encampment on campus. (CBC)

Dozens of students, staff and faculty have been occupying a green space at King’s College Circle on the university’s St. George Campus in downtown Toronto around the clock since May 2. They’ve set up tents and canopies in solidarity with other encampments at universities throughout North America, calling for an end to Israel’s war in Gaza.

The demonstrators have said they want the university to disclose its financial investments, divest from companies that “sustain Israeli apartheid, occupation and illegal settlement of Palestine” and cut ties with Israeli academic institutions that operate in the occupied territories or support Israel’s military efforts.

School determined to proceed with convocation

Gertler said convocation begins on June 3 and the university is determined for the ceremony to proceed as planned.

“We will proceed with convocation no matter what,” he said.

When asked if the university is considering calling the police to clear the encampment, Gertler said the school has not ruled out any options.

“We are pursuing all legal options available to us,” he said. “We are hopeful that the people inside the encampment will abide by the law, including our trespass order.”

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