Threats against women at University of Toronto not credible: police
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, September 11, 2015 9:38AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 11, 2015 5:42PM EDT
TORONTO -- The online comments that spurred increased security at all three University of Toronto campuses on Friday are not considered a credible threat, police said.
The comments targeting the school were posted by a user named "Kill Feminists" under an article that appeared on a Toronto blog, Const. Victor Kwong said.
The disturbing comments called for gun violence against Women's Studies faculty and students.
Kwong said police are trying to identify the person who posted the comments, and security remained high at the Mississauga, St. George and Scarborough campuses Friday as the city's Cyber-Crimes unit investigated.
The university's provost issued a warning to more than 80,000 university community members Thursday, including students, faculty and staff. The email cited threats made on a public blog, but didn't go into any more detail.
University spokesman David Estok said the school's administration chose not to detail the threats after consulting with experts, including police.
He added that the school has taken a number of measures to ensure students are safe, including making security more visible and calling for students to report anything suspicious or threatening to police.
But Celia Wandio, the fourth-year student who started the popular Facebook page "U of T Students against sexual violence", said she thinks the school was trying to protect its reputation when the administration decided not to specify that the threats were targeted at feminists like her.
She said she only found out the nature of the threats when the union that represents the school's contract workers sent out a notice about them.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees local 3902 urged its members -- particularly women or those working in the Women's Studies and Sociology departments -- to be "aware and careful" and said they don't have to work if they feel unsafe.
Wandio was on campus Friday, working back-to-back shifts at her two campus jobs, she said.
"It's been a pretty hard day," she said.
"I just feel kind of on edge. You can't help but look at the people who walk by and wonder what they post online when they think no one will find out."
She said she's not sure what she and her peers will do about the threats, adding that she feels like the goal of these sorts of comments is to silence feminists.
Wandio said she is used to seeing similar vitriol online, but what really got to her this time was the specific nature of the comments.
"You want to be vocal and hold an event to show that you can't scare us," she said. "But we are scared and we don't want to put anyone at unnecessary risk."