An Open Letter on the Hate-Motivated Attack at the University of Waterloo

From the Our Campus, Our Safety coalition and student union partners

Please share this letter with administrators on your campus, as well as elected officials at all levels of government.

The June 28th attack in a gender studies classroom at the University of Waterloo is an urgent reminder of the need for safer campus communities, free from violence and the threat of violence. Professors, staff, and students in gender, feminist and queer studies, social justice education, and equity and anti-racism courses have been raising the alarm about rising hate, threats, and violence like this in educational spaces for years.

Misogyny, patriarchy, and oppression underpin most mass violence in this country, from mass femicides like École Polytechnique to the recent attacks on 2SLGBTQIA+ communities across Canada. Calls to action to end gendered hate and violence must be met with more than an ad hoc response: these are systemic issues that require a holistic framework that addresses policy, procedures, and prevention.

These incidents have deep impacts and reverberations. We call on campus administrators to:

  1. Create a Responding to Critical Incidents (RCI) team so that every campus is ready to respond to incidents like this. This will reduce harm and risk for the whole campus community. Possibility Seeds’ Responding to Critical Incidents guide can support you through this process.

  2. Listen to and amplify the voices of students, faculty, and staff already working to address gender-based violence (GBV) and gender equity on campus. Start implementing the 10 comprehensive calls to action in 2022’s Our Campus Our Safety publication, written by student leaders from across the country.

  3. Commit to trauma-informed campuses by building and implementing a campus-wide action plan with steps for trauma-informed campus support services, education, and reporting.

  4. Work with broader movements to end GBV, including organizations focused on 2SLGBTQIA+ advocacy, gender equity, sexual health, and reproductive rights. Gendered hate and violence are growing – from book bans, to rollbacks on protections for trans and queer youth, to attacks on drag story times, to attempts to undermine sexual health education across the country. All of this is connected and must be addressed collectively.

  5. Develop and implement performance measurements, evaluation, and climate surveys to assess how GBV is manifesting on campus.

  6. Commit to sustainable funding for gender equity services and education, including campus sexual violence support offices.

We’re sending care and solidarity to the Waterloo community and campuses across Canada.  Our governments and post-secondary institutions cannot continue to leave students vulnerable: we need action now. We deserve safe learning and working environments. We have the right to be safe.


Alliance of BC Students

Bishop’s University Students’ Representative Council

Brock University Students’ Union

Canadian Federation of Students (CFS)

CFS Manitoba

Executive Body of the Students’ Society of McGill University

Huron University College Students’ Council

University of Alberta Students’ Union

University of Alberta Graduate Students’ Association

University of Lethbridge Students’ Union

University of Manitoba Students’ Union

University of Regina Students’ Union

Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union

University of Victoria Students’ Society 

University of Windsor Students’ Alliance

University of Windsor Society of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

University of Windsor Engineering Students’ Society 

University of Windsor Human Kinetics Society

University of Windsor Science Society

University of Windsor Dramatic Arts Society 

University of Windsor BIDE Institute

University of Winnipeg Students’ Association 

University of Prince Edward Island Student Union

Safe Campus Coalition of Ontario

StFX Students’ Union

SAIT Academic Faculty Association 

Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculties Association

Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance

Western University Students’ Council

Abrar Abdelmahmoud – CFS National Black Student Representative

Aimee Anctil – President, Trent Central Student Association

Carl Lubano – Vice President Student Affairs, Huron University College Students’ Council

Faith Lollar – Graduate Student, Queen’s University

Ghallia Hashem – President, University of Windsor Students’ Alliance

Kate Hadwin – Vice President Student Advocacy, University of Windsor Students’ Alliance

Jack Harding – Vice President Academic Affairs, St. Francis Xavier Students’ Union

Husam Morra – Vice President Finance & Operation, University of Windsor Students’ Alliance 

Samar Tariq – Vice President External, Central Student Association

Stephan Vasquez – Vice President Academic, Students’ Association of MacEwan University

Catherine Bibeau-Lorrain- President, Union étudiante du Québec (UEQ)

Tiffany Kung – Vice President Academic, University of Alberta Graduate Students’ Association

Veronica Beia – Vice President Student Life, University of Windsor Students’ Alliance

Sophia Stacey – Undergraduate Student, Bishop’s University

Related news