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Pro-Palestinian protestor laments UWindsor president's absence from recent meeting amid ongoing campus encampment

A Liberation Zone in support of Palestine is seen at the University of Windsor on May 13, 2024. (Bob Bellacicco/CTV News Windsor) A Liberation Zone in support of Palestine is seen at the University of Windsor on May 13, 2024. (Bob Bellacicco/CTV News Windsor)
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Protestors who have set up an encampment on the University of Windsor campus say the school's president was absent from a recent meeting with school administration.

The pro-Palestinian encampment began May 10 after students erected tents on the lawn across from Dillon Hall and began sleeping there overnight.

In line with similar protests in Canada and the U.S., the lawn has been designated by students as a "Liberation Zone" and is meant to draw attention to protestors' demands of the university.

Co-organizer Jana Jandal Alrifai said a 30-minute meeting between protestors and university administration took place Friday.

"We don't believe that the university came to the talk with the same good faith that they've been showing to the media," said Jandal Alrifai in an interview with AM800 News shortly after the meeting.

University of Windsor President Robert Gordon was not part of the meeting, she added.

"He was not there, even after multiple requests prior to that meeting for him to be there," said Jandal Alrifai.

According to Jandal Alrifai, protestors talked about their demands and discussed they would like to see them addressed.

The protestors are demanding the university disclose all institutional expenditures, divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation, and declare its opposition to the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian people.

"There were no clear responses," Jandal Alrifai said of Friday's meeting. "It is clear that they do not want us out here for much longer. We made it very clear that next time we sit down, it must be with senior administration and it must be about our demands."

If a future "good faith meeting" with "actual discussions to be had" is not scheduled with Gordon, Jandal Alrifai said they will act with some form of "escalation."

When asked what exactly she means by that, Jandal Alrifai said, "at this point, we're not able to tell."

Protestors are expecting to keep the encampment up through the holiday weekend.

In an emailed statement to AM800 News, the University of Windsor said it scheduled a meeting with student representatives from the "Liberation Zone" after receiving their demands via email on May 15.

"Attendees from the University included two associate vice-presidents and the University Secretary, with the aim of gathering insights to inform future discussions with university leadership," the statement reads.

"The University is committed to upholding freedom of expression and peaceful assembly while fostering an inclusive, safe, and respectful learning environment. Ensuring student safety and well-being, along with minimizing disruptions to teaching and learning, remain our top priorities."

Saturday marks day eight of the encampment at the University of Windsor.

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