Around 2 p.m. on Sept. 10, around 80,000 students, faculty and staff at the University of Toronto were sent emails from Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr informing them about certain threats made towards feminists in a blog’s comment section. While the internet is no stranger to anti-feminism, the comments made on the blogTO article specifically target the faculty as well as students of Sociology and Women’s Gender Studies at U of T. The commenter, “Kill Feminists,” instructs individuals to “Go to the nearest Sociology or Women’s Studies classroom next week, and fire bullets into the Professor’s head and spray bullets all over the room until all the feminists are dead.”

 

While the posts have now been deleted from blogTO, there are various screenshots floating around on Reddit that show the user’s comments attached to various articles that are unrelated to the University of Toronto or feminism itself. This in turn has sparked skepticism, as some say the same threats were made in June with references to Dawson College and John Tory. Around that time, the same information was shared with the police but there was no follow up to the concern.


Despite the police’s lack of interest when the June comments were reported, the comments’ return has caused Regehr to state, “[the University] takes these threats very seriously and want[s] to ensure that we have a safe campus community.” Whether or not the comments in June are linked to the more recent posts, this threat shows the importance of campus safety and being vigilant against threats, whether benign or not. A good example of such vigilance is when American Airlines pursued an investigation last year against a 14-year-old Dutch girl who jokingly tweeted a terrorist threat to the company, which lead to her arrest.

 

CUPE 3902 later released a statement reminding staff and faculty that they have the right to refuse work during such an unsafe time for women and feminists alike. The message from CUPE 3902 focuses on solidarity and ensuring safety for all who feel threatened. Despite this, many users on Reddit and Facebook have called the university out on all the “lip service” they are receiving and how Professor Regehr’s email did not entail that women and feminists were specifically targeted.

 

Soon, a Facebook event called “CUPE 3902 Women’s Caucus Demonstration Against Gendered Violence” emerged. The host for the event, Pamela Arancibia, is encouraging attendees to wear purple and encourage the prioritization of women’s voices in the event. If anyone wishes to attend but worries for their safety, Arancibia suggests that they can RSVP anonymously via private message on Facebook. The event will be held on Sept. 15 at 12:30 p.m.

 

An anonymous poster, speaking on behalf of CUPE 3902, referenced the 25th anniversary of the anti-woman shootings at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, stating, “These particular threats may be empty, but Marc Lépine’s threats weren’t.” The university encourages all to report any suspicious activity to campus police.

       

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