Ensuring Students' Rights and Dignity during Protests

News Staff - Fri May 10, 2024

The University of Alberta Students' Union (UASU) is deeply concerned about the arrests of students and the excessive police presence on the University of Calgary campus. We condemn the rapid escalation, and the violence committed against student protesters. Violence is not an acceptable response to contraventions of policy.

Across North America, student protesters have faced severe personal risks when exercising their right to free expression, including widespread use of tear gas, less-lethal munitions, Tasers, riot equipment, mass arrests, and efforts to force dangerous confrontation.

The UASU supports all students' Charter rights to freedom of expression and assembly, including the right to peaceful protest. University of Alberta President Bill Flanagan reaffirmed students' Charter right to freedom of expression and academic freedom and the commitment to ensure “the safety of those who have chosen to demonstrate peacefully on our campuses.”

While this commitment is appreciated, we stress that the administration continue to uphold students' rights in practice by ensuring the safety of everyone, including students who are protesting for peace and human rights in Palestine. We also expect that students will not experience academic or employment sanctions from the University for participating in peaceful protest.

The University has confirmed continued access to washrooms and water after hours in buildings that students and staff already had access to, provided students and staff have their ONEcard.

  • We have directly encouraged the University to find resolution through deliberation and dialogue (as has happened at Northwestern, Brown, the University of Minnesota, Rutgers, CSU Sacramento, Thompson Rivers University, and UC Riverside, among others) instead of escalating, dismantling encampments, and arresting occupants. We ask our University to affirm that it will not use or solicit violence against peaceful protests.
  • We call on organizers to continue to ensure that the protest remains peaceful and does not tolerate discrimination, harassment, or hate speech.

  • Our focus is ensuring all students' rights, dignity, health, and safety. We invite University administration to join members of the Executive team in visiting the encampment and hearing what students have to say.

As always, the safety, dignity and rights of students are paramount. We appreciate the commitment to nonviolence that the organizers have shown. Discrimination and harassment have no place on our campuses. All students have the right to work, study, gather, and express themselves without fear of persecution or intimidation.

As this situation develops, the UASU Executives are continuing to engage with interest-holders across the University community to determine the best courses of action to support students' rights and diverse needs.

Your UASU Executive Team

About the University of Alberta Students’ Union

The UASU is the official representative of 35,000 undergraduate students at the University of Alberta. It advocates for students’ needs and priorities to the University of Alberta and at all levels of government.

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