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Messages to the Community

Safety concerns, illegal activity at encampment – May 22, 2024

As it enters its third week, the encampment at Western is increasingly concerning. Incidents of unsafe and illegal behaviour are mounting, and the university’s core principles are being compromised.

Participants continue to engage in activities that go beyond our expectations for peaceful protest.

There have been several incidents of theft, vandalism and assaultive behaviour as well as allegations of hate speech originating from someone with ties to the encampment. These activities are all being actively investigated.

We cannot stand for any activity that puts our campus community at risk, nor will we tolerate hate of any kind.

Western will always support the rights of our community to protest peacefully. But, as we said last Friday, what’s happening on our campus is no longer in that category.

Beyond being unlawful, the encampment has created an environment of exclusion – one where some members of our community feel unwelcome and unsafe. This flies in the face of our principles of equity, diversity and inclusion and impedes our ability to support and celebrate Western’s diverse community.

Western has engaged the London Police Liaison Team to communicate with encampment organizers with the goal of ending the encampment peacefully. It is unlawful and unsafe, and now is the time for it to end.

We implore our students to work with us to achieve this goal. We hope to engage them in further discussions about the best ways Western can address the current crisis in Israel and Gaza through means appropriate to our mission.

To that end, we have another meeting scheduled with students tomorrow to keep the dialogue going and find a way forward.  


John Doerksen, Vice-Provost (Students)

Jane O’Brien, Associate Vice-President (Human Resources)

Dear Western community members,

As we head into the long weekend and 10th day of the encampment, the safety and care of the Western campus community remains our primary focus.

In recent days we have seen further safety issues emerge, stemming from behaviour during rallies and marches as well as risky items and activity within the encampment itself.

Earlier this week, we met with student representatives of the encampment to hear from them directly. We also expressed Western’s safety concerns surrounding the current situation.

We hope to keep that dialogue going so we can find a way forward. Today we have invited students to meet again with leaders next week.

In the meantime, we encourage our students to return to peaceful and lawful protesting. This is the kind of activity Western will always support, in the spirit of furthering respectful dialogue and debate.

But what is happening on our campus right now has pushed those boundaries and we must find a peaceful end to this unlawful situation.

Our campus special constables remain on site to monitor the situation and continue working closely with London Police Service to ensure our campus remains a safe place for all Western community members.

We recognize this continues to be a challenging time for many within here at Western and well beyond. Support is available to our entire community through a range of resources for students, faculty and staff.

John Doerksen
Vice-Provost (Students)

Jane O’Brien
Associate Vice-President (Human Resources)

Dear Western community,

Today members of Western’s leadership team held a meeting with student representatives of the current encampment on our campus.

We listened to their concerns, and they articulated the outcome they are seeking, which they have shared publicly.

We also expressed Western’s concerns about the unlawful encampment.

We hope to engage in further conversation with the students in the near future. We encourage them to return to peaceful protesting and to remove the encampment.

In the meantime, our campus special constables will continue working closely with London Police Service as we manage the mounting safety issues emerging from the current situation.

John Doerksen
Vice-Provost (Students)

Dear Western community,

As we head into the sixth day of the encampment on Western’s campus, we have increasing concerns about the safety within and surrounding the space participants are utilizing unlawfully.

The encampment is growing, and it appears that the majority of participants are not our students. We managed several safety risks over the weekend and those on site demonstrated decreased willingness to work with us and communicate productively.

Some participants have become more confrontational, making respectful dialogue difficult.

Western remains committed to free speech, and we have reaffirmed our expectations for a peaceful protest. On Saturday, we distributed information directly to encampment participants to ensure all parties involved are aware of what is not permitted on campus.

Our special constables continue to be on site to monitor the situation, and they are working closely with London Police Service to ensure the Western community remains safe.

In the meantime, we have invited student leaders from the original protest to meet with senior administration so that we can hear from them directly.

Those with safety concerns should contact Western Special Constable Services at 519.661.3300. Resources are also available for all members of our community through Wellness & Well-being.

John Doerksen
Vice-Provost (Students)

As the encampment on Western’s campus continues, the safety and security of our community is our utmost concern. Western has an obligation to provide a safe environment in which our students, faculty and staff can pursue all aspects of our academic mission.

Our commitment to free speech remains firm, as do our expectations that community members exercise this right safely, peacefully, lawfully and in compliance with Western’s policies.

This encampment is not meeting these expectations.

Our campus and buildings are private property. Unauthorized activities, equipment or events, including encampments, are not permitted and are considered trespassing.

When using Western's campus for peaceful and lawful protest, the following expectations apply:

  • Hate speech, threats, acts of intimidation, and discriminatory language or behaviour will not be tolerated.
  • Posters, banners, stickers or signs cannot be affixed to University property.
  • Temporary or permanent structures of any kind, including tents or barricades, are not permitted.
  • No fires, flames, heaters, or appliances with open flames are permitted.
  • No propane or other fuel sources (including firelogs and wooden pallets) are permitted.
  • Western’s campus is smoke- and vape-free.
  • Regular university activities must be able to proceed without interruption or impediment.
  • No illegal drug use or public alcohol consumption is permitted.
  • Protesting will not be permitted after 9:00 p.m.
  • No excessive noise, megaphones or amplifiers within 50 metres of University residences. All noise must also follow the City of London’s sound by-laws.
  • Unauthorized access to campus buildings and the propping open of campus building doors is not permitted.
  • Blocking traffic routes, including right-of-way for emergency vehicles, is prohibited.
  • Blocking access to buildings and grounds is prohibited.
  • Disrupting safe entry and exit from buildings and other University grounds, facilities and areas is prohibited.
  • Sleeping and/or camping overnight is only permitted in residence buildings and apartments.
  • Damage or destruction of University property is prohibited - including graffiti.
  • Preventing special constables, police, fire, or other health and safety officials from the performance of their responsibilities is prohibited.
  • If you are asked to identify yourself, including showing your Western ID, your cooperation is required.

Anyone participating in a protest must comply with the laws of Ontario and Canada, including but not limited to the Ontario Trespass to Property Act, Ontario Fire Code, Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act, and Criminal Code of Canada.

Various University policies and agreements also apply to this activity, including but not limited to the Code of Student Conduct, the Manual of Administrative Policies and Procedures ( MAPP), and/or collective agreements.

We expect protest activity to continue within the bounds of the law and University policies. Any behaviour outside of these parameters will be referred to the Western Special Constable Service and may be reported to the London Police Service.

Dear Western community members,

Yesterday’s peaceful protest did not end at midnight as planned.

Some individuals have camped overnight, and the presence of non-community members has increased. It’s disappointing to see this shift, as our communication with student organizers has been positive and collegial.

The safety and security of our campus community is our top priority and will be our focus today as we ensure regular university activities can proceed without interruption.

We will continue efforts to communicate with the Western student leaders at the encampment, and to set clear expectations for all individuals involved.

At the same time, we are working closely with London Police Service to seek advice and support as needed.

We recognize this evolving situation may be challenging for various members of our community. A reminder that resources are available.

We will continue to share updates.

John Doerksen
Vice-Provost (Students)

Peaceful protest on campus – May 8, 2024

Earlier today, a group of protestors returned to campus and gathered outside the University Community Centre. They have signaled an intention to hold their event until midnight tonight.

We are committed to maintaining open lines of communication with organizers, and our special constables are monitoring the situation to ensure today’s activities take place safely, peacefully and lawfully.

During our discussions, we reiterated the kinds of activities that are not permitted on campus, such as erecting tents.

While the fundamental principles of free speech are as important as ever, we expect protest activity to continue respectfully and within the bounds of the law.

Western is a diverse community, and we know protest activity can raise concerns from groups with differing views. We are here to support through a range of resources.

John Doerksen
Vice-Provost (Students)

Peaceful protest on campus – May 1, 2024

Today a group of protestors came to Western’s campus and began setting up tents outside the University Community Centre.

We have begun a dialogue with organizers. We have affirmed their right to protest and indicated that we are here to work with them to ensure their activity remains peaceful and lawful.

We have also outlined the activities that are not permitted on campus, including erecting tents.

The group’s activity is proceeding peacefully.

Our campus special constables are on site to closely monitor the situation and ensure the Western community remains safe. We are also consulting London Police Service, as we would for any unsanctioned gathering.

While dialogue and debate are welcome and encouraged – even on the most difficult topics – Western will not tolerate hate speech.

As always, we are also here to support our community with a range of resources that may help during this time.

John Doerksen
Vice-Provost (Students)