CUPE 3902 Womens’ Caucus rallies against threats
Photo Credit/Zach Morgenstern
On Monday afternoon, as U of T’s 2015-2016 school year opened, a rally was held to oppose threats made on a blogTO article’s comment section against feminists in U of T’s Women and Gender Studies and Sociology departments. The rally was co-organized by Pamela Arencibia and Ellie Adekur of CUPE 3902, and was presented as both a feminist- and union-based event. Chants of “we are U of T, we stand against misogyny” resonated at the event, recalling a line from the February-March CUPE 3902 strike.
The rally brought a block-filling crowd of purple-clad students, faculty and other local feminists, which Toronto Sun writer Terry Davidson says numbered in the thousands, to Bloor and Spadina. The rally was kicked off with short presentations by a variety of speakers from the U of T community. University-Rosedale NDP candidate Jennifer Hollett and Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam were included in the speakers list, with Hollett taking the opportunity to emphasize her platform points of guaranteeing shelter space for all women in need and launching a national investigation on missing and murdered women.
Other speakers took the opportunity to emphasize the struggles the feminist movement has and continues to face at U of T. Former U of T General Assembly and Graduate Student Union activist Ashleigh Ingle denounced Men’s Rights Activists for their rhetoric about “witch hunts against rapists.” Another speaker, Kevin Edmonds, bemoaned that “unfortunately [for many people, gender equality] is not common sense.”
Many at the rally were also unsatisfied with U of T’s response to the threats. Adekur explained, “reading the initial statements from U of T, we wouldn’t have known that [the blogTO] threats were specifically targeting people in my department[, Sociology,] and people in Womens’ Studies.” U of T has come under attack for failing to alert undergraduates of the threats in this way, as well as failing to inform a professor that her name had been used to post some of the threats. The university also failed to report anti-women/feminist threats that appeared online in June.
Following the speeches, the protesters marched east on Bloor and south on St. George, calling students passing by on the street to join them.