Students, academic staff to intervene in U of T encampment hearing

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TORONTO, June 06, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), the Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario (CFS-O), and the Centre for Free Expression (CFE) were jointly granted intervenor status in the University of Toronto’s request for an injunction to clear a pro-Palestinian encampment on its main campus.

The three organizations will argue that academic freedom and the Charter-protected right to freedom of expression will be harmed should the injunction be granted. The hearing is set for June 19 and 20.

University administrators are asking the court to authorize the forcible removal and arrest of peaceful protesters, claiming that the encampment is causing irreparable harm to the institution.

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“Students have every right to participate in protest and political actions,” said Adaeze Mbalaja, CFS Ontario Chairperson. “As the provincial students’ union, we remain firm in our commitment to defend those rights.”

“Universities and colleges are spaces that have been created to foster academic freedom and freedom of expression,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “There has to be a heavy onus on the University of Toronto to justify the infringement of Charter rights and academic freedom.”

“It is worrisome when a university tries to use courts and police to snuff out Charter-protected expressive freedom rights of students, staff and faculty – rights they are exercising in a peaceful manner, which is not impeding the work of the university in any serious way,” said James L. Turk, CFE director.

In a trespass notice issued May 24, the university threatened its academic staff with termination if they did not leave the encampment. U of T subsequently reversed its position, stating on its website that “faculty members who do not comply with the notice will not be terminated.”

Last month, CAUT released two statements defending the right to free expression and peaceful assembly on university and college campuses and calling on administrations to respect these rights.

For more information, please contact:

Elizabeth Berman, CAUT, 613-400-1633, [email protected]

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