University of Waterloo seeks injunction to end 7-week encampment

The University of Waterloo in southern Ontario says it has started the legal process to seek an injunction to end an on-campus encampment that began in mid-May. (Aastha Shetty/CBC - image credit)

The University of Waterloo's administration has started legal proceedings to seek an injunction to end the on-campus encampment by protesters that began May 13.

The Occupy UWaterloo encampment is located on a grassy area beside the Grad House. The group says it wants the university to divest of any company that supports Israel as the war against Hamas in Gaza continues.

The university issued a legal trespass notice to encampment members on Friday, after the school had issued a formal notice on May 23 telling them to end the protest.

"Unfortunately, the encampment remains in place in violation of Waterloo policies, and the law," university president Vivek Goel said in a statement on the school's website Tuesday.

Goel's statement says administration knows taking this step "will continue to make some on campus feel uncomfortable."

But, he added, the university will continue to uphold the right to free expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and as laid out in a report from the school's own task force on freedom of expression and inclusive engagement.

"We have said repeatedly ... the right to protest does not mean people have the right to endlessly occupy a shared university space," Goel's statement said. "The behaviour of encampment members has crossed the line to intimidation and harassment making their ongoing presence untenable."

Group won't comment on legal issue

Occupy UWaterloo spokesperson Nick Joseph told CBC News on Tuesday the group won't comment on the legal proceedings.

Last week, Joseph said the trespass notice issued to the group was "absolutely nonsensical" and it "will not influence our decisions moving forward whatsoever."

While encampments at other universities have ended, including at McMaster University in Hamilton, others continue.

The University of Toronto is in the midst of seeking a court injunction to clear an encampment, while McGill University in Montreal has said it will no longer negotiate with protesters, that academic amnesty is off the table and the school is planning disciplinary action.