Joint letter to President Flanagan on the events of May 11

In response to the university's decision to use force to remove peaceful protestors from campus on May 11, 2024, the presidents of the Non-Academic Staff Association (NASA), the Association of Academic Staff University of Alberta (AASUA), the University of Alberta Students’ Union (UASU), and the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) have sent a joint letter to President Bill Flanagan requesting an emergency meeting to discuss their concerns about Saturday's events.

Dr. Bill Flanagan
President, University of Alberta
2-24 South Academic Building
11328-89 Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB T6G 2G7


May 13, 2024

Dear President Flanagan,

We write to you with deep concern and disappointment regarding the recent events that transpired on our campus. In the aftermath of Saturday’s events, many of the members of our respective organizations have reached out expressing shock at the use of force to remove peaceful protesters.

While we have received the communication that you sent to all members of the campus community, we must note that we have also received numerous reports from members of our respective organizations that directly contradict many claims in your letter. These reports and videos detail injuries and the use of force during the dismantling of the encampment.

The visual evidence of the forceful removal of protestors has sent a chilling message to students, faculty, and staff, suggesting that dissent will be met with aggression rather than dialogue. This approach not only undermines the core value of freedom of expression but also poses significant risk to the reputation and perceived safety of our university, which should be a place of learning, not fear and intimidation.

As you have noted, “as a university,” the UofA holds “freedom of expression [as] a core value” (Flanagan, May 12, 10:02 AM). Any action in violation of our core values risks stifling the free exchange of ideas and undermines the principles of open discussion and intellectual exploration central to our academic mission.

The use of force to remove peaceful protestors appears to be a severe abuse of power on our campus. These actions appear to have created the very breach of safety university administration claimed to be working to avoid.

Together as campus union and association representatives we are requesting an emergency meeting with yourself, the Dean of Students, Ravina Sanghera, and the head of University of Alberta Safety and Security Committee (UASSC), James Allen, to discuss the forceful removal of protestors the morning of Saturday, May 11.


The Undersigned University of Alberta Union and Association Presidents

Gordon Swaters
President of the Association of Academic Staff University of Alberta

Quinn Benders
President of the Non-Academic Staff Association

Lisa Glock
President of the University of Alberta Students’ Union

Haseeb Arshad
President of the Graduate Students’ Association