University of Ottawa students union calls for pause of in-person classes due to convoy protest

“One student reported that demonstrators entered their residence rooms last weekend. … Others have been yelled at or their masks ripped off.”

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The University of Ottawa Students’ Union is asking university administrators to suspend the return to in-person learning, saying students and faculty are being put at an “unnecessary risk” from the remaining convoy protesters.

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Students have been deeply impacted by the occupation, UOSU president Tim Gulliver said in an email interview.

“One student reported that demonstrators entered their residence rooms last weekend. … Others have been yelled at or their masks ripped off.”

Gulliver said marginalized students — BIPOC students, LGBTQ+ students, Muslim and Jewish students — are at greater risk due to elements of intolerance and hate speech among the convoy.

“Many of them are feeling very anxious or stressed out right now. Some even live in the tower block which is reported to have been the target of a suspected arson attack,” Gulliver said.

“We have heard from many students who live downtown and don’t want to leave their homes, or students who must commute through the downtown to get to campus who feel deeply unsafe.”

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The UOSU said the decision to require students to attend in-person classes, despite police advisories against non-essential travel, “is a reckless decision that is endangering students. … If the University continues to insist on holding in-person classes, they should also give these students who cannot attend in-person classes an online option and numerous academic accommodations.”

When reached for comment, U of O administrators said the safety and well-being of the university community is the top priority after students raised concerns about holding in-person classes during the truck convoy protests downtown.

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“We are monitoring the progress of the demonstration very closely and remain in close contact with local authorities. So far, campus has remained calm with no reported incidents that would have put the safety of our community members at risk,” university officials said in a statement.

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“We recognize that the hatred, racism and homophobia expressed downtown may be distressing to many, and urge everyone to exercise caution while traveling downtown.

“We have asked professors and managers to show flexibility to students in difficult situations. Preferring to err on the side of caution, we have enhanced security presence across campus and limited access to certain areas.”

Administrators asked students to check internal university communications for regular updates.


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