The UW Encampment

The UW Encampment
The University Of Waterloo is complicity in their partnerships with Israeli defense contractors and funds, so they have been taken over by the "Popular University for Gaza"

I've been watching with admiration and humility as students around the world have set up encampments demanding their schools disclose and divest from Israeli/defense industries. While the situation in Palestine has been gut-wrenching; it's been heartening to see the reactions of these brave students. Media coverage, however; has been less than favorable. Even fairly pro-Palestinian outlets such as The Guardian use incendiary language such as, "protest erupted" and the emphasis is generally on the concerns of the administrators, police, and potential safety issues. My reading of this coverage portrays these student activists, at best, as dangerous anarchists looking for a fight, at worst entitled white kids shirking summer internships.

The encampment is covered in art and slogans! Advertising for the people by the people.

When the encampment went up at the local university, The University of Waterloo, I rode up with my dad to take a look. He brought a few books to donate to the encampment's library (I found it charming that amid the tents and living space the students had already set up a thriving library). The atmosphere was calm and cordial we were offered snacks and there appeared to be a lecture circle going on next to the library.

I found the atmosphere so tranquil and invigorating (a mix of being back at school and a yoga retreat). It was so enticing I went back the next day with Viv and Ruby. The entire day was planned out (they communicate their donation needs and the daily program via Telegram), we went for kite making and poppy planting - kid friendly activities. Ruby got right to work painting her kite, as parents Viv and I relish any time Ruby spends on her own working on a project so we sat back and tried not to hover. The care and concern that was shown for our daughter was remarkable. Over the course of half an hour multiple people approached her offering her water (it was very hot), a woman came around with bite brownies and asked if Ruby wanted one and if she was allowed. As the sun moved I helped a volunteer move the tent to provide better shade for the kids. This was a scene from a community picnic not an anarchist commune sizzling to the point of boiling.

A few from in front of the Grad House.

As I watched the care and compassion shown towards my daughter as well as everyone else who had come to the encampment that day I couldn't help but wonder why this wasn't reported? Why is the media so hell-bent on making these students, out to be a volatile and potentially dangerous element? It's a tired trope. Of course there have been violent incidents, counter protesters, police forcibly removing students there are many echos of the 1970 Vietnam protests but from my experience an average day in the encampment is calm, communal, even jovial at times. Everyone is gathered for a higher purpose, and it is a grave one, but even in the face of this genocide a community is being built and it is thriving. My hope is that their time is shortened only by divestment and not batons.