U of T encampment appears set to reject school’s offer

A pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Toronto appears set to reject the university’s latest offer made in a bid to end an ongoing demonstration on campus.

The university says it plans to issue a trespass notice if protesters are not gone by 4 pm Friday afternoon.

Protest organizers are holding a news conference at the King’s College Circle encampment at 11 am Friday.

“They brought forward a proposal for commitments but commitments aren’t good enough,” student Erin Mackey, a spokesperson for U of T Occupy Palestine, told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning Friday morning.

“Ultimately, we don’t consider this to be the final offer.”

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 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 the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

In its Thursday offer, the university said it would not end partnerships with Israeli universities. It said students would be invited 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.

If the encampment doesn’t accept the offer within 24 hours, the university will issue a trespass notice, U of T President Meric Gertler said Thursday afternoon.

LISTEN | U of T president speaks on Metro Morning:

Gertler reiterated his points Friday morning on Metro Morning.

“I hope … that they will see what we’re putting on the table here is a very fair and considered offer,” he said.

Gertler said “nothing is more fundamental in many ways to our society” than the right to protest, but also that “we have to balance some other rights, particularly rights of inclusion.”

Erin Mackey, a University of Toronto student participating in the protest.

Erin Mackey, a University of Toronto student participating in the protest, is pictured on May 2, 2024. On Friday, she told CBC Radio: ‘If they want to clear this encampment, they can meet our demands.’ (Meagan Fitzpatrick/CBC)

As of Thursday, Gertler said the university has received 38 reports of harassment, discrimination and “hateful speech and hateful actions” as a result of the encampment.

“The tension that has been generated by the continued presence of the encampment has reached a point where we feel now is the time to end the encampment,” he said.

LISTEN | Encampment spokesperson speaks on Metro Morning:

Mackey, meanwhile, said if the university wants to clear the encampment, officials can meet protesters’ demands.

“The fact that U of T is willing to call the Toronto Police on this encampment — or threaten so, at this current moment — says a lot about where they’re at, that they are unwilling to stop funding a genocide, stop investing in bombs and instead call police on their own students.”

Speaking on Metro MorningGertler said the university is “doing our level best to avoid police involvement.”

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