MUN asks pro-Palestine encampments to leave

Memorial University is asking pro-Palestinian encampments at Memorial University will soon have to clear their occupation sites, but organizers say they won't go without a fight.

"Students cannot continue to live in a building or camp on grounds that are meant for work and study," MUN said in an update on the student protest released Friday.

MUN's decision to end the occupation comes after the Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted the University of Toronto an injunction to tear down the encampment on its property.

The injunction gave Toronto police the authority to remove and arrest anyone who didn't comply with Wednesday's 6 p.m. deadline. Protesters cleared out this week after more than 60 days of protest before law enforcement had to get involved.

MUN said their decision to end the student occupation aligns with the decision released on Tuesday by the Ontario Superior Court in U of T v. Doe et al.

Day 45 of protest

Protesters at MUN are on Day 45 of their encampment, with two dozen students rotating throughout the days and nights.

The protest started with a tent encampment outside the Arts and Administration Building and later expanded into its lobby. Both sites remain.

The pro-Palestinian tent encampment at MUN started on May 21, 2024.
The pro-Palestinian tent encampment at MUN started on May 21, 2024. (Jenna Head/CBC)

"This occupation is increasingly disruptive to members of our community and is in no way supported by Memorial University," MUN stated. Some community members no longer feel safe on campus, it said.

Sadie Mees and Hannah Mekawy, members of MUN Students For Palestine, told CBC News the group is not planning to leave this weekend.

Mees questions the relationship between Memorial and the Ontario Superior Court's decision.

"I'm not sure that's really our jurisdiction," Mees said.

The group has consulted with a lawyer who will guide the protesters on their next steps on Monday.

"I think it's just disgusting that the school is trying to intimidate us and continuing their involvement in the ongoing genocide," Mees told CBC.

Memorial staying neutral

Memorial said it remains neutral to maintain freedom of expression and academic freedoms for staff, faculty members, and students.

"We must create the conditions in which diverse perspectives can be respectfully shared and explored — even if these perspectives challenge prevailing political or social norms," MUN's update said.

The university has also committed itself to a list of efforts that enhance transparency, ensure responsible investing, and support students displaced by war.

But Mees and Mekawy want to see the university divest from weapons manufacturers and companies on the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) list.

"Divestment is not just a pro-Palestinian stance. It is a pro humanitarian stance because weapons manufacturing is not just being used to decimate Palestine. It's also being used in other conflicts around the world," Mekawy told CBC on Friday.

Mees wants people to know MUN Students For Palestine favours peace.

"We want our school to not be invested in weapons manufacture for anyone, anywhere. There's no reason an institute of higher learning should be profiting off of war," she said.

CBC has contacted Memorial University for an interview.

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