I want to provide our community with an important update, as the situation of the encampment on campus continues to change. 

Safety concerns 

As was shared in the May 31 update, safety concerns have been identified in the area surrounding the encampment. An assessment by University of Guelph’s Physical Resources and Campus Safety and Guelph Fire Service found that some of the tents set up near Reynolds Walk are obstructing the evacuation pathway from Zavitz Hall. This creates an unsafe situation for people exiting the building in the event of a fire and impedes the ability of firefighters to respond.   

Given these safety concerns, Guelph Fire issued orders for the obstructions to be cleared by moving the tents and personal belongings off the walkway immediately beside Zavitz Hall (about 10 feet by 10 feet) with a deadline of midnight May 31.  

Through several conversations, the University’s Physical Resources, Campus Safety Office, University administration and Guelph Fire Services communicated the orders with members of the encampment on May 30, 31 and June 2. We were hopeful that members of the encampment would voluntarily comply with the requirements to relocate in the interests of safety of those using Zavitz, however, as of this morning members of the encampment have not moved all the tents and personal belongings that are obstructing the evacuation pathway. The University is being fined $20,000 per day for non-compliance. 

Until we are in compliance, we have closed access to Zavitz Hall to mitigate risk to our community. We are working with faculty and staff whose roles with the University have been disrupted by this closure to ensure they can continue with as much of their work as possible.  

To further enhance safety, the University will be installing additional security cameras in the area of the encampment. This information has been communicated with members of the encampment.  

We are disappointed that the situation has devolved in this way and that disruptions to the operations of the University continue as a result of the encampment.   

University’s proposals in response to requests 

University administration has had three face-to-face meetings with the group representing the encampment and last week discussed the University’s proposals in response to their requests.  

In response to the group’s request for disclosure of investment holdings, the University commits to ongoing disclosure of its investment holdings to community members on a regular basis. The first such disclosure will be made before the end of this year dependent on the disbanding of the encampment. Faculty, staff and students will be able to continue to request a list of current investments in the endowment portfolio in the interim.  

In response to divestment, the University received a petition from this group prior to the establishment of the encampment requesting divestment. This petition immediately triggered the Board of Governors process to review the concerns and make recommendations regarding the management of the endowment portfolio in accordance with the University of Guelph’s Special Action Policy.  

We have disclosed our investments to the group upon their request and remain committed to following the process outlined in the policy, which is well underway. The board provided a letter to those who submitted the petition requesting divestment that includes details on the Special Action Committee process and commitment to regular disclosure of investments. Representatives from the group met with the finance committee chair and the audit and risk chair last week. 

There have also been discussions about establishing a scholarship or bursary program for students displaced by conflict and enhancing training and education on anti-racism for students, faculty and staff. 

We remain committed to ongoing discussions and to working with the board on responding to the requests. However, in order to have productive dialogue, we expect members of the encampment to comply with the orders issued by Guelph Fire to help ensure the health and safety of those on campus, including those in the encampment, and to demonstrate good faith in their approach to discussions.   

Our priority is the health, safety and well-being of our community 

Again, I want to acknowledge how difficult this situation is for our community. I recently met with students from Palestinian, Jewish and Muslim communities and have heard about concerns of increasing racism on campus. I want to reiterate that we must consider the impact of our words on others who are fearful and in pain and meet each other with care and compassion. In support of fostering an inclusive community, our Office of Diversity and Human Rights is focused on addressing these concerns and building on existing education and resources to help ensure everyone can study, work and live within a safe campus. 

Thank you again for your patience and understanding as we navigate this situation. I want to remind our community members to make use of the resources below if you need them and we will continue to provide updates as they are available.  

Students support: 

Faculty and staff support: 

Dr. Charlotte A.B. Yates
President & Vice-Chancellor