May 18th, 2024

”Illegal, destructive, dangerous’: UVic president cites complaints about encampment


By The Canadian Press on May 16, 2024.

Pro-Palestinian protesters hold a demonstration during a visit by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the University of Victoria, in Saanich, B.C., on Friday, April 19, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VICTORIA – The president of the University of Victoria says a pro-Palestinian protest encampment on its campus is drawing an increasing number of complaints about harassment and intimidation, but also illegal and “dangerous” activities.

Kevin Hall outlined the university’s concerns in a statement on Wednesday, saying they included what he described as rising acts of vandalism, spreading misinformation and the unauthorized use of buildings at after-hours times.

Police in Saanich say they arrested a man on Tuesday after he was allegedly threatening people inside an academic centre for Indigenous students.

Hall says the man was believed to have set up a tent on campus earlier in the week and he was “showing signs of substance use” that required medical response from campus security and emergency first respondents.

Hall’s statement says that response was “hindered because of interventions from members of the encampment.”

Hall says he understands the encampment includes University of Victoria students and it’s supported by some staff and faculty, but other participants are not members of the school’s community, and it’s “irresponsible” for the organizers to encourage those unaffiliated with the school to occupy the campus.

He says that over the past week an “increasing number of complaints related to unacceptable incidents and behaviours.”

“Some are acts of harassment and intimidation, while others are illegal, destructive and dangerous,” he says.

The university has “maintained a calm and measured approach” to the encampment, Hall says, but he’s concerned that recent incidents are undermining people’s sense of safety and security and the organizers have been “unwilling to engage in a productive dialogue” with university officials.

The school has not sanctioned students, staff or faculty based on their participation in the encampment, but it will do so for anyone who threatens or harasses others, damages property, or violates university policies, Hall says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May. 15, 2024.

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