Western University protest camp entering Day 20 after sit-down ends quickly

Monday marks Day 20 of the pro-Palestine encampment at Western University, with protesters pushing to meet again with school officials following a session they say ended abruptly over a retired professor's involvement.

With some Canadian schools taking a harder stance on their own encampments, protesters remained dug in outside Western's University Community Centre this weekend following a failed meeting with school officials that protesters say lasted mere minutes.

University officials did not respond to Free Press requests for comment this weekend.

Calling themselves the "Western Divestment Coalition," in a statement protesters said they want to meet again with school officials on Monday and wanted "the presence of our faculty advisor" along with school financial officials.

It was last Thursday when protesters say their meeting with university officials ended within minutes over the presence of Michael Lynk, a retired Western law professor and former U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Palestine. Lynk said he was asked by students to serve as an advisor.

Protesters said in their statement said they refused to continue talks without Lynk present, citing a "significant power imbalance."

Although most Western students have left for summer break, the campus is busy with summer classes, school tours and upcoming convocations. The encampment began May 8, echoing similar protests at universities across North America amid the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Other Canadian schools have taken varying approaches to ending their own protests.

The pro-Palestine protesters at Queen's University in Kingston announced last week an end to their 12-day encampment after reaching a deal with school officials. Meanwhile, the University of Toronto set a deadline of 8 a.m. Monday for its protesters to clear out or the school will take “all legal steps necessary including seeking an order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice."

The university protests are in response to Israel’s months-long military offensive into the Hamas-controlled territory that’s killed nearly 35,000 Palestinians, Palestinian health authorities say. Israel’s attacks were triggered by the Oct. 7, 2023, terrorist attack by Hamas militants in which 1,200 people were killed and more than 240 taken hostage.


Brian Williams, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter and Noah Brennan, The London Free Press, London Free Press