BREAKING: University of Toronto students create encampment for Palestine

May 2, 2024

BREAKING: University of Toronto students create encampment for Palestine

Wave of student solidarity occupations that has been sweeping North America reaches U of T
University of Toronto student encampment in solidarity with Palestine. (Photo: Omar Taleb)

At 4 a.m. on Thursday, May 2, Occupy for Palestine (O4P) mobilized encampments at the University of Toronto’s (U of T) Kings College Circle. The encampments follow weeks of pro-Palestinian student activism sweeping across post-secondary campuses in Canada and the United States to protest Israel’s war in Gaza.

After rushing to set up their “People’s Circle for Palestine” with supplies, a tarp for prayer, and a wide perimeter of tents, student organizers reiterated three demands:

  1. Disclose all investments held in endowments, short-term working capital assets, and other financial holdings of the university hereafter;
  2. Divest the university’s $4 billion endowment, capital assets, and other financial holdings from all direct and indirect investments that sustain Israeli apartheid, occupation, and illegal settlement of Palestine;
  3. Terminate all partnerships with Israeli academic institutions that either:
    1. operate in settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, or;
    2. support or sustain the apartheid policies of the state of Israel and its ongoing genocide in Gaza.

As reported by The Media Co-op, the renewed student protest follows a two-day occupation that ended on April 3 after students secured a meeting with President Meric Gertler. Students say that Gertler was unprepared and dismissed their demands in a letter posted on the university’s website.

Erin Mackey, a political science student at U of T and a media liaison at the camp, says, “Ultimately, we know when the university responds when there’s public pressure and when their reputation has been harmed. This university needs to listen to its students and be on the right side of history.

“King College Circle is very visible, it’s a space people walk by every day and forcing them to confront the fact that they are funding a genocide,” she added.

Campus security remained outside the previously fenced King College Circle, as students stood shoulder to shoulder blocking entry while tents were set up. By sunrise, U of T faculty members, community, and members of the media began gathering outside the perimeter.

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