Photograph of the then-obscured 3D "Waterloo" sign on the University of Waterloo campus. The words are wrapped up with a blue tarp and a sign reading "POPULAR UNIVERSITY FOR GAZA" hangs on top.
HARLEEN KAUR DHILLON PHOTO

EDITORIAL NOTE: UW’S RESPONSE TO OCCUPY UW IS DISRESPECTFUL TO THE STUDENTS AND TO THE COMMUNITY

On the morning of June 25, 2024, The University of Waterloo administration started legal proceedings to seek an injunction against the on-campus encampment, Gaza House, which began on May 13. The injunction is from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, and it demands the removal of the Gaza House encampment from “University of Waterloo property.”   

With two members of the editorial staff being University of Waterloo alums, we are extremely disappointed in our alma mater. The University of Waterloo does not seem to have their students’ safety or best interests in mind when making their rulings. It is enlightening that any sort of action taken for Gaza’s sake on behalf of UW has come from its students and faculty, not the administration. Members of the pro-Palestinian encampment and OccupyUW do not have millions of dollars to spare or are being backed up by student donations.  

 UW is the first Canadian university to file a seven-figure lawsuit against its students for protesting the genocide in Gaza. This action is being taken against students who are already in mourning for their loved ones in Gaza. Students who have put their studies on hold because they want their voices to be heard.   

The University of Waterloo is an extremely important part of the Waterloo Region. Because of its resources and wide reach, UW is how many of us here reach the global stage. It is only fair for us to hold them accountable for their actions. For such an impressive institution in the community, we as community members should be able to ask them to disclose their investments without fear of repercussions.   

The injunction’s basis is based on the findings of its own Task Force on Free Expression and Inclusive Engagement. UW admins claim Gaza House is violating its recommendations. It is shameful that UW wants the court to authorize the police to enforce the injunction.  

Those in Gaza House have only been calling for the university to disclose, divest and boycott entities that are complicit in the genocide. For a school that is very focused on innovation and the future they are failing to recognize this action will negatively affect their students and their futures.  

UW’s prioritization of student safety was questioned last year when the targeted attack on students in a gender-studies class occurred. As of June 28, it has been a year since Geovanny Villalba-Aleman entered a gender studies class and pulled two large knives out of his backpack and stabbed three people. Staff, faculty and students gather on the first anniversary to mark the somber anniversary. For many queer and trans students, this anniversary was one that brings feelings of terror and fear of being themselves on UW property. The university shared that they are setting up a new safety alert system a week from June 28.  

But that is not enough. Marginalized students at UW do not feel safe or heard. How can a student of colour who is assigned female at birth feel confident they can take a gender studies class, or fight for Palestine on campus if their school is treating its students like this?