Members of the University of Alberta community,
You may have heard about the recent attempts by the Occupy Edmonton organization to establish a camp on the University of Alberta North campus. Here’s what we can tell you:
First of all, the University of Alberta welcomes debate and dialogue and encourages diversity of thought and opinion. At no time does the university want to limit such healthy intellectual discussion, on any subject—and indeed, the Occupy movement itself is a subject of interest within the university community. For example, there are two different events focusing on the Occupy movement involved with I-Week currently underway this week on campus.
After learning from Occupy Edmonton’s intention to occupy campus, the university made several attempts to begin a dialogue with Occupy Edmonton organizers, but those organizers were resistant to communicating with the university. Representatives of the university did speak directly and in person with Occupy Edmonton organizers earlier today as they gathered prior to their planned march. It was made clear to Occupy organizers why the university cannot permit such an occupation and that any attempts to do so will result in their removal from university property. Our hope was that in speaking with organizers in advance we might avoid the potential for any confrontation.
The university has a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of its students, staff and faculty, and to put first the protection of an environment conducive to research and learning. As a result, policies and procedures are in place at the U of A precisely designed to accomplish these goals. In any circumstances, unauthorized camping is not permitted on campus. Simply, any attempt to establish an Occupy camp on University of Alberta property—which is private property—will put the U of A community at risk, and, further, it will interfere with the university’s clear responsibility to effectively deliver its programs and services to students, staff and faculty.
There are ample measures and mechanisms for members of the University community broadly defined to engage in healthy, peaceful and respectful debate on campus.