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U of T’s request for injunction to end encampment won’t be heard before convocation

An Ontario court will hold a hearing on the University of Toronto’s request for an injunction to clear a pro-Palestinian encampment on its campus on June 19 and 20, court documents show.

The hearing at Ontario Superior Court of Justice is set for after the scheduled start of convocation ceremonies. On its website, the school says the ceremonies are scheduled to run from June 3 to 21.

In an email on Wednesday night, a spokesperson for U of T said convocation will be held as scheduled.

“Our spring convocation ceremonies are proceeding in person as planned at Convocation Hall on our St. George Campus,” the university said in a statement. 

In a court document, Ontario Superior Court Justice Markus Koehnen says the court is aware that the university would like the hearing to be held sooner.

“I appreciate that those hearing dates do not accommodate the university’s interest in having the issue resolved before graduation ceremonies are over. In my view, however, that is the earliest that the hearing can be held in order to afford the respondents a fair opportunity to answer the application,” Koehnen writes.

Order sought to authorize police to end encampment

The university has asked the court to authorize police action to remove protesters who refuse orders to leave the encampment, which was set up on campus on May 2 on the grassy area of King’s College Circle. The encampment is near Convocation Hall, where graduation ceremonies at U of T are traditionally held.

The school filed a notice of motion this week, aimed at bringing an end to the demonstration, saying the encampment was causing irreparable harm to the institution.

As part of the relief sought, the university is asking for an order authorizing police to “arrest and remove persons, objects and structures” who violate the terms of a court order.

It is also seeking to prevent protesters from blocking access to university property or setting up fences, tents or other structures on campus.

Two students sit on the grass at a university, surrounded by tents.
Two students sit on the grass at King’s College Circle on Thursday, May 9, where the pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Toronto is located. (Aloysius Wong/CBC)

On Tuesday, a handful of faculty members spoke out against the university’s actions, saying they are appalled at the idea of the school administration calling the police on its own students.

On Friday, the university issued trespass notices to people in the encampment that said the protest was unlawful and they had until Monday morning to leave. The students in the encampment defied the notice.

Encampment organizers have called on the university to cut its ties with Israel, divest from companies profiting from Israel’s offensive in Gaza and terminate partnerships with the country’s academic institutions deemed complicit in the war.

School administrators have already said U of T will not end any partnerships with Israeli universities, and that no matter the outcome of the negotiations, demonstrators must vacate the school’s St. George campus.

On Oct. 7, Hamas and other militants attacked southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people and taking more than 250 people hostage, according to Israeli tallies. More than 100 were released during a November cease-fire in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Israel’s offensive in Gaza against Hamas has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to the local health ministry.

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