Open Letter to the York University Community

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June 28, 2018

You may be aware that on March 20, 2018 a group of students began a sit-in in the University Senate Chamber which has continued through to today. For a number of weeks, the University permitted the group to remain in the Chamber recognizing that sit-ins can be a peaceful form of political expression.

However, with mounting reports of health and safety concerns and adverse impact on others, we asked the participants to vacate the Chamber. They have repeatedly refused to do so. As a result, earlier this morning, our Community Safety Team respectfully requested that the four occupants leave the Chamber and they complied without incident. They were given time to get their belongings.

The Senate Chamber, unfortunately, has been vandalized and damaged and the surrounding space and community members have been impacted, including the displacement of employees who work in the area. Health and safety violations, including non-compliance with the Fire Code have also been ongoing; concerns that the University could no longer overlook. 

York values and encourages diversity of thought, divergent opinions and respectful disagreement as an important part of learning; however, the Senate sit-in has evolved to become a disruption to University operations, disrespectful of fellow community members and demonstrated blatant disregard for the values outlined in the Student Code of Rights & Responsibilities which include accountability among students toward other members of the York community.

The list of concerns and complaints now includes: 

  • creating risks to campus health and safety including staying overnight, bringing flammable material such as mattresses and sleeping bags in the space, and blocking exits;
  • twice refusing to let university fire safety officers inspect the Chamber to ensure Fire Code compliance;
  • defaced the Chamber;
  • forcibly entering the Chamber and adjacent office space, refusing to leave, and preventing authorized university personnel from entering; and
  • displacing and impacting staff who normally work and have access to space adjacent to the Chamber.

Sanctions under the Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities that can be imposed include fines, restitution and suspension from the University. 

Items left in the Senate Chambers have been collected and boxed up by Campus Services and Business Operations and will be available for pick up at the Lost & Found Office.

Previous communications delivered to the members in the Senate Chamber can be viewed here: VP Students Correspondence.

Sincerely,

Lucy Fromowitz
Vice-Provost Students

Additional communications delivered to members in the Senate Chamber: