Editor’s Note: Hate rising on campuses

Umaymah Suhail / Editor-in-Chief
Brantford City Hall and the Canadian flag.

Finals are shuffling from the back of our minds to all we can think about, especially with the well-warranted break waiting at the finish line. However, this is still a difficult time for many to digest. Since Oct. 7, there’s been an alarming rise of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism on university campuses across Canada. This is especially worth addressing when the hate leads to violence and students fearing for their safety.  

Just weeks ago, an unidentified group distributed stickers around the University of British Columbia’s campus that said “I (heart) Hamas” with the UBC Social Justice Centre’s name and logo. Hillel BC, an organization for Jewish students, said in a statement posted on Instagram that a now former independent contractor distributed these stickers. The Social Justice Centre said in a statement posted to X that they had no involvement with the “dangerous” stickers, which do not reflect their values. In another statement posted to X, the centre said students who are Muslims, migrants and people of colour have been “subjected to threats of deportation and violence as a result of these stickers.” 

On Nov. 15, the Palestinian Culture Club at Toronto Metropolitan University posted a video on Instagram where several students shared their recent racist experiences. One student said they were at a pro-Palestinian demonstration on campus when their friend was told by another student wearing an “Israel Defense Forces” shirt that “he will go back and kill her entire family.” The student said her friend didn’t appear in the video to say this herself out of fear. The person who threatened her did not receive any consequences from the university or the police. Another student said she was told to go back to her country at the same demonstration. One student said he was walking to school while wearing a keffiyeh, a traditional clothing item in many Middle Eastern cultures, when four White men approached him. He said, “They told me that they hope my mom gets raped by the IDF. I’m not even Palestinian, I’m Iraqi.” 

Also at TMU, Students for Justice in Palestine said in a statement posted on Instagram that someone not affiliated with the group or any of its members brought a picture of a swastika to a pro-Palestinian protest on campus. They said they “reject” the use of this symbol due to the harm it causes to the Jewish community. 

In early November at Concordia University in Montreal, student organizers from the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights and Israeli student club StartUp Nation set up tables with their Student Union outside a campus building, unknowingly, at the same time. Students from one group sold keffiyehs and those from the other group put up posters of the hostages Hamas took on Oct. 7.  A “violent” confrontation occurred when people started to take down the posters, including “several altercations and physical clashes between campus security guards, students and non-students” according to The Link, Concordia’s student newspaper. Two security guards and one student were injured, then police were called. The university released a statement later that night reporting two more incidents of “violence or incitement to violence,” including the discovery of swastikas in a campus building. 

The threats, harassment and violence students are facing across the nation are horrific and cannot continue. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, the rise in anti-Semitism is “terrifying.” He told CBC, “The expression of hate against Muslims, against Palestinians, against anyone waving a Palestinian flag, is unacceptable.” From one student to another, if you witness any hate on our campus, I urge you to report it to Brantford’s Special Constable Service emergency line at (519) 770-3778. 

This article was originally published in print Volume 23, Issue 4 on Thursday, Dec. 7.

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