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Student J.C. poses in a keffiyeh, a traditional headdress or a scarf worn by many in Palestine, outside the Henry Hicks building on the Dalhousie University campus on May 14. (Jacob Moore/Acadia Broadcasting)

Pro-Palestine encampment will stay until university meets demands: student

By Jacob Moore May 14, 2024 | 5:43 PM

J.C. didn’t sleep well in her tent last night in the Pro-Palestine encampment at Dalhousie University. She’s used to her bed with loads of pillows and two dogs who like cuddling.

But that discomfort is insignificant to her, because advocating for an end to the Israel-Palestine conflict is something she’s wanted to do for a long time, and it feels an amazing.

“I’m using my body, my labour, my brain,” says J.C.

J.C. doesn’t want her name to be revealed because she worries that it could hurt future employment opportunities.

There were 21 tents on the Studley Quad Tuesday afternoon. Students were protesting peacefully, some wearing keffiyehs, a traditional headdress or a scarf worn by many in Palestine. They were painting canvas signs with messages about freeing Gaza and Palestine, ending the conflict, and asking the university to divest from companies tied to Israel. The stone stairway leading up to the Henry Hicks building is covered in chalk messages.

There were 21 tents set up as part of a Pro-Palestine protest on the Dalhousie University campus on May 14. (Jacob Moore/Acadia Broadcasting)

Tents went up on Sunday evening.

Students from Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s, and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design universities, along with the University of King’s College, are asking their schools to disclose the investments tied to Israel and then to divest from those companies.

Until then, they’ll keep the tents up, J.C. says.

Community support

A lot of people in the community are donating to the cause with supplies, like sunscreen and food. J.C. says there’s so much food that they’re donating some of it to others in the community who need it more.

On social media, the Saint Mary’s University Faculty Union announced their support for the encampment and the “free expression of academic ideas.”

The student union for the University of King’s College announced their support, too, saying students have a right to peacefully protest and express themselves freely.

A man who identified himself as S.B. visited the encampment to show his support. He says he hopes students aren’t camping out here long.

“Actually, I want to see a result pretty quickly by the university, saying, ‘Okay, fair enough. You have good demands. Let’s discuss this inside in the halls of power … Let’s actually make you part of the decision making of the university,’” says S.B.

On the Dalhousie University campus, a painted sign reads: FREE FREE PALESTINE. (Jacob Moore/Acadia Broadcasting)

He also wants to remain anonymous because he doesn’t want to lose his job.

S.B. says he’s been doing his own research, following the news, and he’s been waiting for an encampment to show up at Dalhousie.

He wanted to see how peaceful this protest was and how peaceful it could continue to be.

“I’m here to support an end to this violence and an amicable, peaceful solution for everybody,” he says.

University committed to debate

In an emailed statement from Monday evening, Dalhousie University says they understand students share “similar frustrations and concerns” as students camping on other university campuses around the country and the world.

The university says they’re committed to keeping the entire university safe and to have “respectful, non-violent dialogue and debate” with the the organizers of the peaceful protest.

“Many people are struggling with the state of the world right now and, as a university, it is essential that we remain a place of informed debate and critical discourse where conflicting views can co-exist, while we strive to see each other’s humanity across difference,” the university writes in the statement.