Update to community May 31, 2024

campus arial

May 31, 2024 - 3:45pm

Dear VIU community,

As we approach one month of having a protest encampment on our campus, I want to again thank all employees and students for the advice, insight, support and patience as we navigate this complex situation.

This encampment has been a very difficult situation for all involved and I want to assure you that VIU is committed to the hard work that is needed to resolve the issue with the encampment groups.

We remain committed to listen and engage in dialogue and seek solutions that uphold our values of inclusivity, justice and academic freedom. And, like our peer institutions, we are trying to learn from each other and adjust our actions in response to changing conditions. I am grateful to our VIU team in their efforts to continue to learn from our successes and failures and those of other institutions across Canada that also have encampments.

To date we have taken and will continue to take a very measured response to the encampment and protest. We have not taken any punitive action towards any member of our community for their participation in the encampment and we commit to this into the future. Let me state that clearly: members of our community will not be punished for participating in the encampment.

But my responsibility is also to the entire campus community, and we are working hard to strike a balance of allowing the protest to continue while maintaining campus order and safety.

We will not tolerate activities that result in an unsafe work or learning environment for our students and employees, contravene the student code of conduct, university policies or the law.

There have been some incidents characterized by behaviour that was not safe, and this required, at times, additional security. On May 23, the closed meeting of the Finance, Audit and Facilities Committee of the Board of Governors had to be relocated to an alternate venue due to a significant disruption by the encampment members who protested during the meeting, using a megaphone in a confined space at dangerously high sound levels for 45 minutes. This also caused a delay in the open session of the Board of Governors meeting. 

Throughout this protest, we have asked for and encouraged dialogue. We have received a list of topics the encampment leadership want to discuss, and we have responded outlining what we propose as a starting point for in-person discussion.

In our communication with the Students for Palestine Committee we shared that we are in agreement on this: Vancouver Island University joins the global call for a ceasefire and an end to the violence in the Middle East. We have also assured that VIU takes responsible investment seriously and have completed a thorough review of our investments. We have confirmed that VIU has no associations or investments with any institutions or companies with ties to the conflict.

Vancouver Island University’s primary responsibility is ensuring the safety of everyone on campus. We are working hard to strike a balance of allowing the protest, as manifested through the encampment, to continue while maintaining campus order and safety. VIU has been and will continue to be measured in our response to the Students for Palestine Committee and the Palestine Solidary Encampment.

In our most recent communication to the Students for Palestine Committee we expressed our desire to see our June 12 to 14 convocation events free of disruption. We are committed to meet with VIU students involved in the encampment to discuss protocols and procedures that will allow them to continue their protest in a way that is safe and allows students and their families to listen and celebrate the dedication and accomplishment of completing their program.

As is happening across Canada, we are hopeful that we too can find a mutually acceptable resolution. To the encampment participants: we hear you and we are hopeful we can find a resolution together. We look forward to meeting you to discuss a path forward. We know it won’t be easy, and it requires trust on both sides, but we are prepared to make that investment.

I again thank the campus community for their support and commit to continue to keep you up to date.



Dr. Deborah Saucier, President and Vice-Chancellor

Tags: Announcements

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