University of Calgary Students’ Union Response To Violence Against Student Protestors

University of Calgary Students’ Union Response To Violence Against Student Protestors

University of Calgary Students’ Union Response To Violence Against Student Protestors 150 150 Nathan Ross

The University of Calgary Students’ Union (SU) unequivocally condemns the actions taken against students on May 9th, which saw students assaulted with flash-bang grenades, tear gas, and non-lethal munitions in alarmingly rapid escalation. This extreme response was requested by the University of Calgary President Ed McCauley and the University Administration.  These students, many of whom were arrested or injured, were exercising their freedom of peaceful assembly guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

The university’s utilization of Calgary Police Service (CPS) was an invitation for violence against students. It is our belief that without this, the protest would have remained peaceful. Unlike at other Canadian universities, the University of Calgary’s administration made no serious efforts to speak with the protestors before directing CPS to remove them from campus. This is a failure of leadership from President McCauley and the University of Calgary Administration. 

Student protesters sought dialogue with admin, only to be continuously rebuffed. The fact that the university’s president feels more comfortable calling the police than meaningfully engaging with students demonstrates where his priorities lie. 

Furthermore, we vehemently dispute the accuracy of the statement released by the Office of the President that the protest only ‘devolved’ with the arrival of counter-protestors. According to protestors as well as video footage posted from the event, no counter-protesters were present when the CPS escalated its tactics. Calgary Police had secured the area well before 10:00 pm with only a singular point of entry that was being used to escort individuals out, which either means that no one was able to enter or those that entered were permitted to do so.

We have reached out to President McCauley early this morning, but as of publication of this statement, our request to better understand why the protesters were not engaged has gone unanswered. The fact that we have yet to hear back from the administration after students were teargassed on our campus yesterday is deeply unsettling. Yesterday’s actions set back years of progress that was built towards strong relations between the administration and students, leaving students to ask how they are supposed to feel safe exercising their rights on campus if the first response is to call the police. 

An apology will not be sufficient from President McCauley, and we will wait for either the administration to resume dialogue with us or for them to take accountability for what happened. If that does not happen, we will be pushing for more serious action, as determined by student demand. 

The SU is above all else concerned with ensuring student safety and that student rights are upheld. We appreciate the continued response and the unified calls for accountability from the community. The SU continues to invite all students interested in speaking with us or requesting support to contact the SU or visit our offices during the week.