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UBC students show the way: Escalate!

Free Palestine!
Bradley Hughes

May 4, 2024

When I visited the Palestine solidarity encampment at UBC I was immediately struck by how calm, peaceful, and well organized it is. The People’s University For Gaza is set up on a sports field in the middle of campus. Over a hundred tents are arranged in orderly rows along one side of the field. Along the middle and other side of the field there is a food tent, medical tent, library, people’s garden and a distribution centre for donations. Students that I talked to remarked that they have had three solid meals a day since they arrived - a rarity in modern student life.

Which shows how easy it is to get things done when you don’t have managers and bosses getting in the way.

Permanent fences line two sides of the field and barricades made of shipping palettes and furniture fill in the other two. The barricades and fences are decorated with colourful banners with expressions of solidarity, rage at the genocide, and demands on the managers at UBC.

Along with Palestinian flags, banners declare, “Israel destroyed every university in Gaza,” “Turtle Island to Palestine, Occupation is a crime,” ”Canada stop arming genocide,” “Long live the Student Intifada,” “This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal. Free Palestine.”

The demands of the students are:

1. UBC divest from all companies complicit in the Israeli apartheid regime and in the oppression and genocide of the Palestinians.
2. UBC participate in the global academic boycott of Israeli universities and institutions
3. UBC publicly condemn and demand an end to the genocide in Gaza and condemn the scholasticide in Gaza
4. Keep cops off the campus. The RCMP engages in in suppression and violence against BIPOC and other marginalized communities.
5. UBC reaffirm Palestinians' right to resist and their Right of Return

I spoke with one of the encampment’s media liaisons. Sam told me that there has been no communication from the UBC administrators. The students have no interest in negotiating with the university, “We’re here because of a lack of action by the university. And we’re here until our demands are met.”

She explained that students are “here to centre Gaza and Palestine. That is the heart and the core of what we’re doing. We are also in solidarity with the other campuses.” The encampment celebrates “Palestinian strength and resistance.”

The calm and order in the encampment is a big improvement over the usual campus experience. Students feed themselves better here than they usually are able to. Sam also pointed out that here she is safer than in many spaces on campus where she works, lives, and studies. Both of these things are because the community holds everyone accountable for themselves and for each other.

I asked Sam for advice for students on other campuses who want to join the movement and set up on their own campus. She told me that you have to, “ground yourself in what you are there to do. Ground yourself in the voices of Palestinians, of the the people of Gaza and Rafah.” She explained that the encampment works because the “students understand the importance of community and keeping each other safe.”

You can support the students’ demands by emailing:
Benoit-Antoine Bacon, President,
Cheryl Dumaresq, Vice President Academic,
UBC Board of Governors,
and cc

If you are in the lower mainland you can drop off donations at the encampment at MacInnes Field near the bus loop on UBC campus.

The best thing you can do to support the students and help end the genocide in Palestine is to escalate! It is time to take action: strikes, walk outs, sit-ins, encampments, and anything else we can do to disrupt business as usual. 







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