CCJ, ACAM, GRSJ release statements in support of Palestinian solidarity encampment

UBC-affiliated groups have released statements in support of the Palestinian solidarity encampment on MacInnes Field which started on April 29.

The groups include UBC’s Centre for Climate Justice (CCJ), the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies (ACAM) program and the Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice (GRSJ) program.

In an Instagram post, encampment organizers People’s University UBC listed their demands for UBC. These include divesting from companies complicit in Palestinian human rights abuses, boycotting Israeli universities and institutions and publicly condemning what organizers and human rights experts call a genocide in Gaza.

According to a report issued by a United Nations-appointed expert, there are “reasonable grounds” to believe Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.

CCJ wrote that it supports “the encampment’s right to expression and assembly because the CCJ itself exists, in large part, because of this kind of mobilization.”

“In 2018 and 2019, UBC’s campuses surged with student-led climate protests and civil disobedience, which included building occupations and hunger strikes,” read the CCJ statement.

The statement said these actions led UBC to pass the 2019 Climate Emergency Declaration as part of UBC’s commitments under the declaration and the “CCJ was born.”

ACAM wrote, “As Asian Canadian studies scholars and teachers, we recognize that our own field owes its existence to this history, and we continue — in our research, teaching, and community engagement work — to commit to the principles of decolonization, anti-racism, and anti-imperialism that have been foundational to it.”

GRSJ called on UBC faculty to join the encampment “in standing for the causes of justice and equality worldwide,” and on UBC to “protect student rights to protest and peaceful assembly, and to accept the students’ demands in joining the movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions.”

On May 7, UBC President Bacon said in a UBC broadcast message that UBC’s endowment fund “does not directly own any stocks in the companies identified by the movement.” Instead, “capital is held in pooled funds and managed by external investment managers.”

The “identified companies,” according to Bacon, account for about 0.28 per cent of the endowment fund — around $7.8 million of UBC’s $2.8 billion endowment.

GRSJ also demanded that the UBC Faculty Association “break its complicit silence to do its duty of protecting the rights of free speech and assembly and to support the student encampment and their demands for divestment and academic boycott.”

On June 1, the UBC Vancouver Senate failed to pass a motion to cut or suspend academic ties with Israeli universities.

Both the CCJ and ACAM said they oppose discrimination or harassment toward the encampment. The CCJ wrote it “reject[s] unequivocally any move to punish students and their supporters, whether academically, professionally or criminally.”

“Universities have a profound duty of care towards their students that must shape UBC’s response,” wrote the CCJ.

The CCJ and ACAM both wrote that police involvement is unnecessary and could target people from marginalized communities.

ACAM called on UBC administration to “recognize and respect the rights of encampment participants to free speech and assembly, and to refrain from exercising carceral and punitive measures that will disproportionately harm vulnerable members of our community, including racialized, Muslim, 2SLGBTQ+, and international students.”

The CCJ, ACAM and GRSJ each said their statements do not represent the official views of UBC or all affiliated faculty members.