On Wednesday, June 28, towards the end of Pride Month, one professor and two students in the University of Waterloo’s Philosophy 202 lecture were brutally stabbed by a former student in Hagey Hall. Philosophy 202 is a Gender Studies class offered at the University of Waterloo. The three victims were promptly transported to the hospital, getting treated for non-life threatening yet serious injuries.
The attack is considered a hate-motivated crime by local authorities. A media conference held by Waterloo Region Police revealed certain details of the incident. Waterloo Region Police Chief Mark Crowell said, “Investigators have a reason to believe this was a planned and targeted attack motivated by hate related to gender expression and gender identity.” He added, “It is both sad and disturbing that this incident has occurred during Pride Month, a time where we celebrate and recognise members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.”
University of Waterloo’s Provost and Vice-President, James W.E. Rush released a message acknowledging the incident, urging the community to keep the victims’ identities confidential and to consider the trauma they are facing. Rush’s message read, “We want to emphasize that we stand united against gender-based violence and all other forms of hatred and bigotry, and we are committed to fostering an inclusive, safe, and welcoming environment for all members of our community.” The University’s President Vivek Goel echoed the sentiment of pain due to the attack taking place during Pride Month.
Acknowledging the incident and the background of Pride Month is important. However, the nature of the incident calls into question all Ontario universities’ emergency preparedness and protection of their student body.
Additionally, University of Waterloo students also reported hearing about the incident much later than appropriate. In a CTV News article, Brianna Egen, an accounting student who had finished a class in Hagey Hall minutes before the stabbings took place, said: “It was a bit terrifying to be honest, especially with how long it took the university to respond.” Some students received a campus security alert three hours after the incident took place.
The University’s senior administrator admitted that the alert system was not activated “as quickly as we would have normally expected.” Rush emphasized the violent incident has made it the University’s priority to ensure coordination between the community and the emergency technology system. However, the emergency alert system had been tested earlier on Wednesday.
This unfortunate incident serves as precedent for all Ontario universities to ensure their community members’ safety, especially those belonging to vulnerable groups. It also forces people to evaluate their biases and understand that the rise in anti-2SLGBTQIA+ rhetoric has real-world consequences.