The entrance gates at Western University. (File photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn Media)The entrance gates at Western University. (File photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn Media)

Western University claims pro-Palestinian encampment unlawful, unsafe

Western University is calling for a peaceful end to the pro-Palestinian encampment that has been on campus for two weeks.

University officials claim the encampment is becoming increasingly concerning with incidents of unsafe and illegal behaviour mounting.

"Participants continue to engage in activities that go beyond our expectations for peaceful protest," Vice-Provost Students

John Doerksen and Associate Vice-President of Human Resources Jane O’Brien said in a statement. "There have been several incidents of theft, vandalism and assaultive behaviour as well as allegations of hate speech originating from someone with ties to the encampment."

According to the university, the incidents are being actively investigated.

Western stressed that it supports the rights of its community to protest peacefully, but that the encampment is no longer in that category.

"Beyond being unlawful, the encampment has created an environment of exclusion – one where some members of our community feel unwelcome and unsafe," said Doerksen and O’Brien. "This flies in the face of our principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion and impedes our ability to support and celebrate Western’s diverse community."

The encampment was erected outside of the University Community Centre on May 8. Protesters are demanding Western divest from companies with ties to Israel. Similar protests are being held at universities across Canada and the United States.

Western officials have asked the London police liaison team to communicate with encampment organizers to bring a peaceful end to the protest.

"[The encampment] is unlawful and unsafe, and now is the time for it to end," said Doerksen and O’Brien. "We implore our students to work with us to achieve this goal. We hope to engage them in further discussions about the best ways Western can address the current crisis in Israel and Gaza through means appropriate to our mission."

Western has a meeting scheduled with students on Thursday that it hopes will keep the dialogue going and find a way forward.

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