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McGill makes new offer to pro-Palestinian protesters occupying its downtown campus

McGill University is proposing to review its investment in weapons manufacturers and grant amnesty to protesting students as part of a new offer to members of a pro-Palestinian encampment on its Montreal campus. A man reads a sign of demands posted outside a pro-Palestinian encampment set up on McGill University's campus in Montreal, Tuesday, April 30, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

MONTREAL — Montreal's McGill University is proposing to review its investments in weapons manufacturers and grant amnesty to protesting students as part of a new offer to members of a pro-Palestinian encampment on its downtown campus.

McGill said the offer it extended Monday includes a review of direct equity investments in entities that earn most of their revenues from the production of military weapons.

Pro-Palestinian protesters have been occupying McGill's lower field since late April, demanding the university pull investments from companies complicit in what they describe as the genocide of Palestinians and sever relationships with Israeli academic institutions.

"Yesterday, the university extended an updated offer to members of its community in the encampment, going beyond previous proposals," the school said Tuesday in a news release.

"This continued effort to reach a peaceful resolution to the encampment, which has been in place on the lower field for over six weeks, comes in addition to the university’s renewed suggestion to appoint a neutral third-party mediator to facilitate discussions."

The university said it also offered to disclose more investments to include holdings below $500,000, to support Palestinian students displaced by the war in the Gaza Strip, and to grant disciplinary amnesty to any McGill student or employee participating in the encampment prior to June 15.

Spokespeople for the encampment could not immediately be reached for comment, and as of Tuesday afternoon had not indicated on social media whether they would accept the offer.

McGill says its offer of amnesty doesn't extend to those involved in the occupation last Thursday of a McGill University administration building, or to anyone who commits acts such as destruction of property, vandalism, or harassment. Police said they arrested 15 people during that protest.

The offer is the school's latest attempt to convince protesters to dismantle the dozens of tents they've erected on the lower field of the campus. Quebec's Superior Court denied McGill's injunction request to clear out the protesters in May, ruling that the university's lawyers didn't convince the court that the situation was urgent or that it presented a health or safety risk.

Since then, McGill filed a request for a different injunction to remove the protesters, which has yet to be heard.

Montreal police have said they have no plans to move in on the encampment as long as no crimes are being committed, despite the school's past requests for officers to clear the field.

In its news release, McGill said it urged protesters, who have rejected prior proposals from the university, to discuss the latest offer through a skilled and impartial mediator, adding that it hoped for "a peaceful and satisfactory resolution for all."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2024.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

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