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University of Toronto warns students that encampments will not be tolerated amid divestment calls


The University of Toronto has put up new fencing along part of its downtown campus and is warning students that encampments on its grounds will not be tolerated following protests in the U.S. and in Canada over the Israel-Hamas war.

A letter that was sent to students by the university’s vice-provost Sandy Welsh on Sunday stated that while the school is committed to free speech and lawful and peaceful protests, it will not tolerate “unauthorized activities” and those violating its policies will face “consequences.”

The school’s response comes after students set up encampments on the McGill University campus in Montreal this past weekend, calling for the university to divest from companies with military ties to Israel. McGill has said the camp violates both school policies and the law.

On Monday, Columbia University also escalated its stance against an encampment on its New York campus by ordering students to leave by the afternoon or face suspension.

“U of T's lands and buildings are private property, though the university allows wide public access to them for authorized activities," Welsh said in the letter. "Unauthorized activities such as encampments or the occupation of university buildings are considered trespassing.”

At this point it is not clear whether any protests have been planned for the University of Toronto campus.  

An hours-long sit-in was held at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) on Tuesday resulting in the institution limiting access to campus buildings until further notice. (Simon Sheehan/CP24)

However, the UofT Occupy for Palestine group has stated on social media that it is demanding that the university divest its endowment and pension plan from companies providing military goods or services to the Israeli government. The groups says it is also asking the school to publicly disclose the names of all companies that it invests in.

An online open letter to the university signed by nearly 2,000 alumni, staff and faculty members has also echoed the groups’ concerns.

The University of Toronto, meanwhile, has confirmed that fencing went up around King’s College Circle on Saturday restricting access to the large lawn at the centre of the downtown campus.

Signs were also posted saying that the grounds are temporarily closed for “protection due to concern about unauthorized activity,” a spokesperson said.

“Any student involved in unauthorized activities or conduct that contravenes University policies or the law may be subject to consequences. We ask that you engage productively with one another to fulfill our mutual obligation to provide a welcoming and safe community in which all members can express themselves,” the letter from Welsh notes. Top Stories

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