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UVic protesters say administrators reviewing demands as talks continue


Meetings are underway between University of Victoria officials and protesters at the Palestinian solidarity encampment on campus.

Students met with administrators for two hours late Wednesday afternoon, bringing forward potential changes to UVic’s investment policy.

“We want to make UVic’s investments genocide-free,” an encampment representative told CTV News on Thursday.

Protesters are not showing their faces or sharing their names due to fears of academic repercussions.

Students are proposing the university add exclusion clauses to its responsible investing policy.

“These are well-accepted clauses that are in many different investment policies that would essentially say, ‘We would not have any investments that are profiteering off of war crimes,’” the protester said.

“They agreed to review our clauses and our language on making their investments genocide-free and they also agreed to come back to us with a timeline for potential review of the investment policy.”

Five students met with UVic provost and academic vice-president Elizabeth Croft, and Kristi Simpson, vice-president of finance and operations.

In a statement posted on UVic’s website, Croft and Simpson said they’re open to more conversations and are meeting with protesters again on Friday.

“These issues are complex and deserve deep discussion — we hope that this is the beginning of a series of meetings between the students and university leaders,” the statement reads.

The statement did not address what happened in the meeting and whether any progress was made.

“They certainly have yet to commit to anything concrete that would meet our demands,” the protester said.

‘You have to build trust’

Friday marks one month since the encampment was established on UVic’s quad.

Evan Hoffman, a Vancouver Island University professor and conflict resolution expert, said he doesn’t envy the university administration.

“There’s just absolutely no stance the university could take which would please everybody,” Hoffman told CTV News.

UVic has previously called for a ceasefire in Gaza.

“Members of our community have called on us to address the crisis from a wide variety of often conflicting viewpoints,” a statement from May 23 reads.

“If the university assumes it can speak for everyone on global conflicts or other topics beyond our operations, we undermine the right of our students, staff and faculty who hold different views to be welcomed in our community, to express themselves and to participate in debate.”

Heavy-handed police crackdowns, as seen at the University of Alberta, can damage relationships, fail to address the root concern and create new grievances, Hoffman said. Negotiation is a wise approach, he said.

“It shifts into a problem-solving model,” Hoffman said.

“Dialogue sounds very appealing and attractive, but when you get down into the mechanics of it and the process, it takes time, it takes effort. You have to go slowly, you have to build trust, you have to be open with communications.”

That approach worked for McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., which saw an end to its encampment after demonstrators and the school reached a deal last week.

“It’s important for negotiation to work that both sides say, ‘We’re entering into this process in good faith and that we’re doing so because we’re looking for a mutual agreement that we’re both happy with,’” Hoffman said. Top Stories

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