Update on Ongoing Dialogue with Students Supporting Encampment

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Dear Western community, 

I am writing to share an update on our ongoing dialogue with students involved with the encampment on campus.

I understand that this is a difficult time for many in our campus community, and I take our student demonstrators’ calls to action very seriously. 

Again, it is important to recognize the significance of the issues driving the encampment. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is tragic and demands urgent attention. We support the calls from leaders from across the globe for an immediate ceasefire, working towards lasting peace in the region, the release of hostages taken by Hamas on October 7, and a significant increase in humanitarian aid for Palestinians and all the people of Gaza. 

As I shared in my message to campus earlier this week, Dr. Jacqueline Hughes, our Chief Diversity Officer, and I have been meeting with student representatives from several WWU student clubs over the past few weeks, including students from the WWU Arab Student Association and the WWU chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, two of the student groups that have indicated support for the encampment on campus and support for the demands cited by the encampment organizers. 

Dr. Hughes and I met with these students on May 3rd and 10th. On May 14th, I sent an email to the student representatives outlining the University’s response to their calls. I am sharing this response with you in the hope of establishing an understanding of the university’s position on items in the student call, as well as our willingness to continue effective engagement in the process. I remain committed to a sincere and open dialogue and hope that we can schedule another meeting soon with representatives from ASA and JVP to continue our conversation.   

I remain a firm advocate for free speech and peaceful demonstration. At the same time, it is also my responsibility to ensure that we have a safe campus for the entire community, continue to effectively deliver on our educational mission to students, and that all members of our community can learn, work, and live in an environment that is free from fear and harassment.

My deep appreciation to the many members of our campus community, our faculty, students, and staff who continue to engage in thoughtful dialogue and contribute to a greater understanding both inside and outside the classroom and to the staff who have been engaged around the clock to ensure the health and safety of the students in the encampment. 

Again, I remain committed to a meaningful dialogue on the demands and will keep you informed. 

Kind regards, 

Sabah Randhawa