In response to an anonymous blog post threatening violence against women in the Departments of Sociology and Women's Studies at UofT, a mass and march reclaimed campus as a safe space. Organized by the women's caucus of CUPE 3902, there was also support from CFS students and campus Steelworkers.
While Harper has defunded women's organizations, he has designated as "charitable organization" the Canadian Association for Equality, a so-called "men's rights" organization that has been establishing a presence at UofT. In 2012 campus protests exposed the reactionary backlash of "men's rights" groups, which use the rhetoric of equality to attack feminism and scapegoat women. It's no coincidence that the emergence of these sexist groups on campus would pave the way for threats of violence against women. But the mass rally and march today showed the determination to drive misogyny off campus.
After acknowledging the Indigenous territories the campus occupies, and denouncing the disporportionate levels of violence directed as Indigenous women, the rally heard from grad students from the Department of Sociology. They read an open letter in response to the attacks, vowing not to be silenced and to uphold their right--and the rights of all those who identify as female and all those who experience oppression--to attend school and work without fear.
The rally also challenged the administration's approach of simply increasing the numbers of police--who have already stated there's "no credible threat" despite the online threats calling for "killing feminists" and specifying which departments. Rally speakers like city councilor Kristen Wong-Tam recalled the 1989 Montreal massacre, while NDP candidate Jennifer Hollett promised an NDP government would launch an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and increase the number of shelter beds for women.
As the rally MC explained, "the solution is not increased security but coming together and eliminating misogyny." So the rally spilled out into the street and marched through campus, chanting "We are UofT, we fight against misogyny! We are UofT, show your solidarity!" and reassuring students on campus that "UofT, we got your back."
Last year saw students and workers on campus unite against austerity, and the new school year has started with a mass action against the oppression on which capitalism and austerity depend.
If you like this report, register for the conference Rage Against the System, September 26 at UofT