May 10, 2024

Removal of encampment at University of Calgary

Message to the campus community from President and Vice-Chancellor Ed McCauley

Dear Campus Community,

At 6:30 a.m. yesterday morning, an encampment was set up on the University of Calgary campus.

All members of the community have the right to free speech and the right to protest.

But because, for safety and operational reasons, temporary structures as part of protests and overnight protests are not permitted, the individuals who set up the encampment were provided a written summary of the university’s policies and procedures and asked to remove their camp. They were issued a trespass notice when they refused to take the structures down.

At 8 p.m. yesterday, Calgary Police Service began enforcing the university’s trespass order. Their decision to enforce a trespass order — and how — is based on assessment of the risk to public safety as determined through things such as protester actions, communications (including social media monitoring) and analysis.

Over the next three hours, police directed those in the encampment to remove themselves from the premises. Consistent with university policy and procedure, protesters were assured they were permitted back to the university to protest — as long as there were no temporary structures (including barricades and tents) and protests did not occur between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Subsequently, the vast majority of those present complied with police direction and decamped from university property.

By 11 p.m. only a few people remained. Unfortunately, counter-protesters showed up — also putting themselves in violation of our policies and in trespass situation — and the situation very quickly devolved into shoving, projectiles being thrown at officers, and — ultimately — flash bangs and arrests.

We do not yet know who, how many, or if those arrested were members of our community.

The police report no injuries.

The risk of serious violence is one of the primary reasons overnight protests are not permitted. It is certainly possible counter-protesters only became aware of the encampment because of reporting on the large police presence.

It is also possible that they would have shown up regardless — yesterday, this evening, some evening in the future — and in the middle of the night a camp would have found itself in immediate and dangerous conflict with counter-protesters.

I want to underline that as community members, you have the right to protest. Protests occur regularly and with the operational support of the university.

But as outlined in our campus statement on free expression, that right is subject to limitations imposed by law as well as policies and procedures related to the university’s functioning.

There is no satisfaction in a situation like yesterday’s. This is not an email I wanted to write.

My commitment, and the commitment of this administration, is to apply the rules evenly and with consideration to the safety and operation of this university. I want to underline that you are free to use your voice on campus. And I am happy to receive all feedback you have on this matter.


Ed McCauley
President and Vice-Chancellor

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