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U of T issues warning to students, faculty after online threats made

TORONTO – A police investigation is underway after online threats were made targeting female students and faculty at the University of Toronto.

A statement released by CUPE 3902, the union representing staff at the university, said gendered threats were made “specifically toward women and feminists.”

“We can also add that the threats specifically encourage violence and target our members in their workplaces,” said CUPE chair Ryan Culpepper.

“Specifically mentioned are those working in Sociology and Women’s Studies classrooms.”

Subsequently, U of T sent out an alert on Thursday warning students, faculty and staff of the anonymous threats made on a public blog and asked the school population to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity.

“The University is currently working with Toronto Police Service and Peel Regional Police Services to support an investigation into anonymous threats made on a public blog against the University of Toronto,” said Vice-President and Provost, Professor Cheryl Regehr.

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“We take these threats very seriously and want to ensure that we have a safe campus community.”

The threats allegedly appeared in the comment section of a BlogTO article which have since been deleted.

The U of T Students’ Union released a statement Friday criticizing the wording of the university’s alert for not being clear enough on the intended targets of the threats.

“This statement managed to completely neglect the mention of the explicit target of these threats as being women and feminists within the UofT
community,” the Students’ Union said.

“As a result of removing the gendered context of these threats, women and trans students are not being kept accurately informed and cannot otherwise take the necessary steps in maintaining their safety and security.”

The union representing staff at U of T called the threats “beyond abhorrent” and urged its members to stay alert and to “look out for one another”.

“As your Union, it is our job to remind you that you have the legal right to refuse unsafe work,” said Culpepper. “You do not have to enter a work situation in which you have reason to believe your safety or the safety of others may be at risk.”

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Meanwhile, the U of T statement said it has increased campus security on three of its campuses and are monitoring the situation closely.

The Toronto Police Service and Peel Regional Police are both looking into the threats, the university said.

Toronto police said in a statement Friday afternoon that “no credible threat has been identified” but that the investigation will continue and the university will provide information to faculty, students and visitors as needed with the help of the police.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-5200, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at http://www.222tips.com, or by texting TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637).

With files from Adam Miller

 

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