U of T reveals similar online threats surfaced in June

The University of Toronto went public this week about violent online threats against women on campus, but CBC News has learned similar threats were made last June and kept under wraps.

Campus administration did not share details widely with students or staff

University of Toronto campus administrators held an emergency meeting Friday with some faculty members and students to discuss violent online threats made last Saturday. It was revealed that similar threats were first made in June but not disclosed at the time. (CBC)

The University of Toronto went public this week about violent online threats against women in two of its departments, and have now informed staff and students that similar threats were made last June, with critics questioning why it wasn't revealed at the time. 

At an emergency meeting Friday, faculty members and students were told that the June threats were brought to the university's attention by a faculty member and reported to police.

A representative from CUPE 3902, which represents University of Toronto teaching assistants, sessional instructors and other staff, said Friday's meeting was the first time they had heard about threats made in June.

The threats were posted on the same website as this week's threats — BlogTO. The violent comments mention using guns, bullets and machetes on women. The posts also refer to Toronto Mayor John Tory and Marc Lépine, the shooter responsible for the 1989 ÉcolePolytechnique massacre in Montreal. 

Several students and staff representatives are expressing concern.

"This is serious, like how they were threatening, like the ways they were threatening," said U of T student Arin Torus. "So if they knew something beforehand, they should have said something."

Ryan Culpepper, chair for CUPE 3902, said failing to share these details earlier is "inexcusable" and "there's no question" people's lives were put at risk.

"I think that they were derelict in their duties to inform and protect their employees and to provide a safe workplace," Culpepper said. 

The news comes after police on Thursday warned students about the latest online threats, which included rants calling for violence against women.

"Start firing bullets into feminists," read one of the posts. 

Toronto police said the latest threats were alerted to them last Saturday but U of T administrators only made the details public Thursday. Police said they do not believe the threats to be credible.

"We worked with police to first try and understand the seriousness of the threat, and as soon as we came to an agreement with them, we released the statements," U of T vice-president David Estok said. 

It remains unclear why it took so long for last June's threats to become public.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.