BREAKING: McMaster Apartheid Divest launches encampment on campus

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The coalition of McMaster affiliated organizations and students demands McMaster divest from and boycott companies and institutions tied to the ongoing violence in Gaza

On May 5, McMaster Apartheid Divest announced on Instagram that it had begun an encampment at McMaster University in front of the Burke Science Building to protest the university’s ties to Israeli institutions and weapons and defense companies.

This development follows other recent student encampments at universities throughout Canada and the United States in recent weeks.  

“We are here to fight for an end to the genocide in Gaza, a genocide that is backed by McMaster University through its ties with the apartheid state of Israel.”

McMaster Apartheid Divest, Instagram post

In its announcement post, the group outlined several demands for McMaster University. Like the many other encampments across universities, the group is demanding that McMaster disclose and divest from all companies on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions list and all military companies and contractors. 

Furthermore, the group demands that McMaster cease all exchange programs cooperation with academic institutions in Israel, companies on the BDS list and all weapons and defense companies.  

Finally, they demand that the university formally make a statement condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza and to call for an immediate ceasefire by Israel.  

McMaster University made a statement via McMaster Daily News with regards to the encampment on Sunday, May 5.

"Now that the encampment has begun, our attention will need to focus on maintaining the health and safety of those participating and to ensure people at the university can continue with their work, studies and use of the campus in an atmosphere of respect,” said Sean Van Koughnett, dean of students in a Daily News post.

In the article, Daily News also stated that university officials have been meeting with students since October.

"Those discussions with various student groups allowed more than 30 peaceful protests and events to be held at McMaster," stated Daily News.

University Provost Susan Tighe commented to Daily News about the encampments.

"Despite our willingness to continue exploring the topics the group has raised, it is disappointing that instead they have chosen to establish the encampment . . . The safety and security of anyone who participates is very concerning" said Tighe.

"Despite our willingness to continue exploring the topics the group has raised, it is disappointing that instead they have chosen to establish the encampment."

Susan Tighe, McMaster University Provost

McMaster President David Farrar also shared a statement through a separate Daily News post.

"The right to speak is mirrored by the right to hold dissenting views. It is also aligned with the responsibility to ensure that no activities of anyone on campus incite hate, threaten violence, endanger the safety of others or cause damage to property. The right to congregate is matched with the right of the university to ensure that the regular activities of the university can continue unhindered," said Farrar.

In McMaster Apartheid Divest's post announcing the encampment, they also outlined a set of rules for participating aimed at keeping all those involved safe. Their post stated that harassment or violence by anyone would not be accepted and anyone violating this would be removed from the encampment.  

The post stated that participants in the encampment are not to engage with the police or campus security, as they have their own security team.  

On May 5, community members including McMaster professor Yasser Hadera, Hamilton-Centre Member of Parliament Matthew Green and Hamilton-Centre Member of Provincial Parliament Sarah Jama, attended and spoke in support of the students at the encampment.

The announcement post concluded by stating that the encampment would not cease until the university agreed to their demands. 

This is an ongoing story.  

This post has been updated to reflect McMaster's statements posted via McMaster Daily News.

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