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Student protest update

Additional information on Arts and Administration building access

Campus and Community

By Memorial University

On the evening of July 5, 2024, buildings on the St. John’s campus were closed at the usual time.  

This included the Arts and Administration building, where a group of student protestors had set up an occupation. Since June 7, a small group of students have been occupying the lobby of the building to the exclusion of others and sleeping there each night.    

A July 4 inspection by the St. John’s Regional Fire Department resulted in a Fire Prevention Inspection Report that outlined a number of orders around health, life and safety associated with the protesters’ encampment and occupation. On the same day, student protesters were notified, via their legal counsel, that they cannot continue to live in a building or camp on grounds meant for work and study.  

This action aligns with the reasons for the decision released on Tuesday, July 2, by the Ontario Superior Court in U of T v. Doe et al.  While an Ontario case, the legal principles around property ownership and control of property are equally applicable here. In the ruling, Justice Markus Koehnen found that the protestors had appropriated space and taken away the university’s ability to control what occurs on its own property. The University of Toronto protestors respected the finding and ended their occupation. Precedents set by other courts in Canada are relevant and commonly used in other jurisdictions when the issues of law are the same. 

On July 5, when the Arts and Administration building was set to close, Campus Enforcement and Patrol (CEP) officers reminded student protesters of the university’s position and the expectation that they vacate the building at closing time. 

A number of protesters chose to leave the building. Three protestors did not, and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) responded to assist. Over the course of approximately 90 minutes, students were informed, by both CEP and RNC officers, of their options and the students were given every opportunity to leave. Those three students were escorted from the building by CEP without force or incident. They are each facing a single charge of petty trespassing. 

The Arts and Administration building will remain closed for the weekend for cleaning. 

Our focus is on maintaining a safe environment for all.  The university will follow its policies, guidelines and procedures to ensure our community remains a place where diverse perspectives can be discussed and where students, faculty and staff are able to use shared facilities unimpeded.  

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