TORONTO: A university in Ontario has become the first major Canadian educational institution to reach an agreement with on-campus pro-Palestine protesters, pledging not to invest in companies benefitting from the war in Gaza.

Administrators and protest organisers at the Ontario Tech University in Oshawa say they have reached an agreement, bringing campus encampments and demonstrations against investments connected to Israel’s military to an end.

A copy of the agreement circulated to students shows it was signed on Monday and includes a number of commitments from the university if the encampment was taken down within 24 hours.

Among the commitments listed in the agreement is the university’s affirmation that it is engaged in “responsible investment practices”, adding that it is not “aware of investments in any companies that are benefitting from the current Palestinian Humanitarian Crisis”.

Under the agreement, the university will establish ‘a responsible investment working group that will review best practices and make recommendations’ in its investments

Additionally, university administrations have said that they will publicly post a report this fall outlining all of the varsity’s investments and financial holdings.

Under the agreement, the university will establish “a responsible investment working group that will review best practices and make recommendations” as to how the varsity approaches environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in its investments, “with particular attention to companies involved in arms manufacturing and delivery and/or benefitting from military action in Palestine or elsewhere”.

Also under the agreement, the university has said it will implement “an admissions process from an inclusive lens to ensure Palestinian or other similarly displaced students can equally access education”.

The university has committed to fund three undergraduate scholarships for Palestinians displaced by the war, beginning in the fall semester.

Meanwhile, administrators have also promised that students and faculty who partook in the encampment will be protected from “academic and/or employment-based retaliation”.

The agreement between protesters and the Ontario Tech University comes weeks into the encampments that have sprung up on varsity campuses across Canada in response to the Israeli bombardment in Gaza.

Student protesters across the country are calling on their universities to divest from companies supplying weapons or benefitting from the war in Gaza. At the University of Toronto, dozens of students remain camped out, as several rounds of negotiations between protesters and the varsity have not yet led to an agreement.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2024

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