Complacency led to threats against U of T feminists: Jude

George Brown should learn from the mistakes of other post-secondary institutions

Image of group of University of Toronto students marching on streets with banner printed as "U of T Feminists Strong"

U of T Students with banner of Feminists Strong | Credit: Craig Saunders

The vitriol of the threats made against feminists at the University of Toronto (U of T) on Sept. 5 has reminded many of the Montreal Massacre at l’Ecole Polytechnique. In 1989, Marc Lepine murdered 14 women because he claimed they were feminists and that feminism was ruining his life.

Similarly, the most recent threats at U of T targeted women and feminists on campus, specifically those studying women’s studies and sociology.

In response to these anonymous online death threats, U of T students and community allies held a protest at the university on Sept. 14.  An underlying theme of keeping U of T feminist seemed prevalent at the event, even though the University of Toronto has received much criticism for its official response to the threats, which made no mention that women and feminists were being specifically targeted.

There is no doubt that feminists on campus are dedicated to keeping the campus feminist. But does the university administration consider itself an ally to its feminist students? If the actions of the administration up until this point are any indication, they appear more interested in being fence sitters than supporters.

For over three years, U of T has had a chapter of the Canadian Association for Equality on campus—a group that has been condemned by concerned students for being a men’s rights group that disguises itself as an equity group while promoting an unsafe environment for women and feminists on campus. In the past, U of T has denounced protests against the group on campus, calling them a disruption of free speech.

There is a difference between free speech and hate speech. These recent threats are not random; complacency in patriarchy and misogyny by both the university and larger societal institutions results in violence against women.

What everyone at George Brown College can learn from U of T is that silence breeds violence.

We must make it known on campus that misogyny is never tolerated. We must make it known that we support feminist education on campus and actively encourage people of all genders to incorporate these classes into their studies. We must make it publicly known that we will not support groups on campus that promote misogyny. We must be proactive in order to prevent violence from happening on our campuses.

 

Eddie Jude is the woman and trans-identified student support staff at the Community Action Centre at George Brown College.

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Complacency led to threats against U of T feminists: Jude