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UBC Okanagan vice-chancellor offers to meet with pro-Palestinian encampment

The encampment on UBC’s Okanagan campus is demanding that the university divests from companies complicit in ‘Palestinian genocide’
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Those at the UBCO encampment have requested to maintain anonymity for fear of repercussions from the public and law enforcement. (Jacqueline Gelineau/Capital News)

After nearly two weeks of demonstrations at UBC Okanagan, the principal and deputy vice-chancellor of the institution, Lesley Cormack, has responded to pro-Palestinian protesters with a letter.

The encampment, comprised of diverse students and members of the community, has been stationed on the UBCO campus for the past eleven days. The group of pro-Palestinian protesters, who call themselves the Peoples’s University for Gaza, UBCO, have a list of five key demands that they, in conjunction with the students on Vancouver’s campus, are asking UBC to address.

READ MORE: 1 week update: UBCO Pro-Palestine encampment demands action

Protesters at both the Okanagan and Vancouver campuses of UBC are demanding that the institution divest from all companies that are supporting the ongoing “oppression and genocide of Palestinians.” The protestors are specifically asking for accountability regarding companies that are physically located in Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories and companies that manufacture weapons sold to Israel.

The group is also calling on UBC to participate in the global academic boycott of Israeli Universities, to condemn any acts of genocide in Gaza, and reaffirm Palestinian’s right to resist, return and to keep police off campus.

To read the full list of demands visit ubcdivest.org and ubcim.ca to read the annual investment report.

On May 16, UBC President Benoit-Antoine Bacon issued an official statement addressing the five key demands.

In the statement, Bacon said that to remain respectful to all students and faculty, UBC must remain neutral on this subject. Bacon also stated that the university does not directly own any stocks in the companies identified by the movement, and offered to “engage in a discussion.”

However, he also stated that a percentage of the university’s funds are managed by external investment managers. Some of the funds have been invested in companies now being accused of being “complicit in Israel’s numerous violations of Palestinian human rights,” by the People’s University for Gaza.

On Friday, May 24, UBCO deputy vice-chancellor Cormack delivered a letter to those encamping in Kelowna, to “ensure you are aware of the recent communications from President Benoit-Antoine Bacon regarding the demonstrations on the Vancouver Campus and on the Okanagan campus.”

Cormack said that as President Bacon has invited a discussion between student representatives and the university, she will engage in discussions with those in Kelowna.

While discussions are ongoing, Cormack asked that the protesters “refrain from disrupting university activities.”

The Kelowna-based protesters responded and said they are willing to meet but will not engage in “bargaining around the duration or conditions of the UBCO encampment.”

The meeting has yet to be scheduled but is expected to take place on May 30.

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Those at the UBCO encampment have requested to maintain anonymity for fear of repercussions from the public and law enforcement. (Jacqueline Gelineau/Capital News)


Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

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