Campus LifeNews

Occupants of U of A Palestine solidarity encampment told to leave

“Should you stay you may face student non-academic disciplinary action or employee disciplinary action, as well as potential arrest,” a disbandment notice from U of A Protective Services read.

At around 9:00 p.m. on May 10, University of Alberta Protective Services (UAPS) approached the Palestine solidarity encampment on the U of A Main Quad. Using a megaphone, they read aloud the contents of a disbandment notice, according to David Kahane, a political science professor at the U of A.

On May 9, the encampment was given trespassing notices that outlined possible fines, jail time, or both for trespassers. The notices said that Main Quad is private property, and overnight presence is “strictly prohibited.” Additionally, they said that no authorization was given for any demonstration, protest, or encampment to occur in the area.

The Gateway was provided with a physical copy of the disbandment notice distributed on May 10. In addition to the general trespass notice, the notice said that all occupants of the encampment “must pack up [their] things and leave campus at this time.”

“Should you stay you may face student non-academic disciplinary action or employee disciplinary action, as well as potential arrest,” the notice read.

Kahane said the encampment has been in contact with UAPS through Threat Assessment Program and Investigations Manager Frank Page. According to Kahane, UAPS wanted to be in contact with the encampment about student safety issues. When UAPS came at 9:00 p.m., Kahane said there was no discussion of safety.

“Page just said the decision has been made, this encampment is over, you need to leave now,” Kahane said. When they asked Page for a timeline or what would happen if students chose not to leave, “there was a refusal to talk at all.” 

“The students have expressed that they’re not leaving. So is the next step Edmonton Police Service (EPS) enforcement called on by campus security? Are they just going to wait and see if the students will leave? It’s very unclear right now,” Kahane said.

“I grieve the fact that the university has allowed this type of pressure to be on the encampment,” Kahane says

The encampment has grown since its start on May 9, with around 35 tents set up on May 10. 

The students, faculty, and community members participating plan to stay until their demands for the U of A and MacEwan University are met. They demand the universities disclose financial investments with Israeli institutions, divest from those investments, provide amnesty for protestors, and condemn “the current genocide of Palestinians,” according to the People’s University For Palestine YEG’s Instagram.

At 5:21 p.m. on May 10, The Gateway spoke to Kahane for an update. On May 10, according to Kahane, a rumour began to circulate around the encampment that EPS was going to sweep the encampment between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m that day.

encampment 2024
Lily Polenchuk

Kahane said the trespassing notices, the clearing of the Palestine solidarity encampment at the University of Calgary on May 9, and a statement made by Premier Danielle Smith contributed to anxiety and uncertainty around the camp. The rumour “intensified” this feeling. 

“I grieve the fact that the university has allowed this type of pressure to be on the encampment,” he said. “Instead, they are leaving this distressing, up and down, fearful situation.”

At a press conference on May 10, Smith was asked if she intended to take any action on the U of A encampment. Smith responded that universities would have to take the lead on any action taken on their private property. 

“I’m glad that [U of C] made the decision that they did. There are appropriate ways to peacefully protest,” Smith said. “I’ll watch and see what the U of A learns from what they observed in Calgary. We’re on standby to be able to provide any assistance should they ask.”

On May 10, the U of A Students’ Union (UASU) released a statement condemning “the rapid escalation, and the violence committed against student protesters” at U of C.

“We also expect that students will not experience academic or employment sanctions from the [U of A] for participating in peaceful protest,” the statement said.

“Liberation Shabbat” held at the encampment site

On the morning of May 10, Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) Edmonton circulated an invitation for people to join a “Liberation Shabbat” at the encampment at 7:00 p.m.. IJV Canada is “a grassroots organization grounded in Jewish tradition” that “advocates for justice and peace for all in Israel-Palestine,” according to its website.

encampment 2024
Lily Polenchuk

The Shabbat service began with singing, after which Kahane gave the land acknowledgement. He said “there’s a rich, juicy complexity to being a Jew offering a land acknowledgment among Palestinians and people in solidarity with Palestine.”

“And so I offer that as one tiny sliver of what we are called upon to do,” Kahane said.

Following an explanation of Shabbat, a prayer of protection and peace was made. Participants were offered challah, a special bread typically eaten on Shabbat, and grape juice before the closing song. Echoes of “Shabbat Shalom” could be heard as the crowd dispersed.

Lily Polenchuk

Lily Polenchuk is the 2024-25 Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 Managing Editor, 2023-24 and 2022-23 News Editor, and 2022-23 Staff Reporter. She is in her second year, studying English and political science.

Dylana Twittey

Dylana Twittey is the 2024-25 Managing Editor at The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 News Editor. She is a second-year student studying history. In her free time, she enjoys watching 90s Law and Order, cooking, and rereading her favourite books for the fifth time.

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