UW students launch encampment in solidarity with Gaza


This is an ongoing story, last updated at 1:20 p.m. on May 13.

This morning, students set up an encampment on the green behind the Grad House, now dubbed the “Gaza House” by the students in the encampment, as a pro-Palestinian protest. The encampment was boarded off, with about 20 people on scene as of 10 a.m.

Speaking to the purpose of the encampment, a spokesperson said: “The number of people that have been massacred in Gaza so far is more than the number of students in the entire student body of Waterloo. This is the most documented genocide in history, and it’s happening right before our very eyes. Currently, they sent the Palestinians to Rafah, the Israelis, they sent them to Rafah as a safe zone. Now, they’re currently planning to bomb Rafah as expected.”

“We’ve helped rallies, we’ve had petitions, we’ve had senate meetings, we’ve done everything in our power to end the University of Waterloo’s complicity and the admins simply won’t listen to its students, so we’re here camping, much like many other people and we intend to stay here until our demand are met.”

According to a post from Instagram account @occupyuwaterloo, the list of demands from students is for UW to disclose the list of university investment and financial aid academic ties, divest away from companies with Israeli ties, and to boycott these companies. 

A UW spokesperson said that the university is committed to considering these issues raised. The finance & investment and the pension investment committees under the Board of Governors are “already working to look again” at reporting on investments and factors that fund managers consider.

The university also plans to develop guidelines on institutional partnerships, with the work to be informed by the outcomes of the Taskforce on Free Expression, set to report in the coming months. Updates will be provided at a June meeting of the Board of Governors. 

“All members of our community are free to express their views, but we must aim to maintain a supportive, respectful and tolerant environment for everyone.  We will not tolerate any form of violence or hate speech,” the UW spokesperson said.

“We have already begun to engage with the group who have established an encampment on Waterloo’s main campus. Our top priority is the health and safety of our community. We intend to remain in dialogue with the organizers of the protest to ensure that the encampment remains safe for everyone on the campus. We will also be focused on ensuring that we can maintain the normal operations of the University.”

Pro-Palestinian protests have taken place at universities across Canada, along with the U.S. recently, including at the University of Toronto, McMaster University, McGill University and the University of Windsor.