Glendon Campus at York University has been targeted with anti-Semitic and anti-black graffiti, including bomb threats that have prompted evacuation of a building at the Bayview Avenue campus on three occasions this week.
The most recent scribbled bomb threat, in or near a washroom stall, coupled with anti-Semitic graffiti, marks the seventh or eighth such incident since March 8, said Toronto Police spokersperson David Hopkinson. He described the graffiti as “racially and religiously-motivated – what appears to be hate speech.”
One Glendon student contacted by The CJN said she had received email notifications from the school administration throughout the week indicating anti-Semitic graffiti and bomb threats had been found at York Hall, the main building on campus. The student, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “It’s hard to know how to react to a bomb threat. A bomb threat is an act of violence in itself. It feels scary.”
The student said she also received a text from a friend indicating police were questioning someone about the incident. The friend, Ingrid, a mature student, said she was in class at around 1:30 on March 22 when a security guard informed the professor to be prepared to evacuate the room.
When she was leaving the class, she saw a campus security guard and two police officers with a man who appeared to be around 20. “The female police officer was holding him and led him to a different hallway. As I passed the male police officer, the security guard said he didn’t put up a fight, there was no resisting or complaint and that she [the female officer] was going to take him and search his bag,” Ingrid said.
On March 22, Hopkinson said he was unaware of the incident and cautioned that it might be unrelated to the bomb threats. One day later, police spokesperson Mark Pugash said “no arrests have been made. The investigation is ongoing.”
According to the first student, campus administration has been playing down the incidents. “They haven’t told the students anything,” leaving many “feeling anxious,” she said.
“It’s hard to know how they’re addressing this,” she said, adding “why aren’t they openly condemning this?”
Ingrid said “it’s definitely disarming to me. You’d like to think there’s nothing to it, but you never know.”
Ingrid said she is studying to improve her employment prospects and she has a family. “At this point in life, it’s not funny to me. The stakes are higher for me.”
Glendon principal Donald Ipperciel responded to the series of incidents with a message to students: “There have been six instances in the last two weeks where graffiti with anti-Semitic, anti-black, and bomb threats messages have been found in a bathroom stall located on the main floor in the Centre of Excellence.
“The messages were all similar in tone and form. As expressed earlier, we are deeply concerned and saddened by these acts which we condemn unequivocally. Anti-Semitism, racism and other forms of hate or attack on members of our community have no place on our campus. While we can’t always comment publicly on the actions taken by our staff to address these incidents, we have been meeting with students groups and are working closely with York’s community safety personnel. Based on the information we possess at the moment, we do not believe that there is an increased threat to the community.”
“This is merely the latest in a pattern of outrageous attacks against Jewish students on Canadian campuses,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “Just two weeks ago, York and other universities played host to an annual series of events aimed at demonizing the world’s only Jewish state. So how can we be surprised when threats against the Jewish community follow so shortly afterward?”
On Feb. 27, swastikas were also found scrawled in a classroom at York’s Keele Campus, Mostyn noted.
According to the anonymous student, the first bomb threat at Glendon came around the same time as the threat phoned into the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre on Tuesday, March 7, which also turned out to be a false alarm.
That occurrence coincided with other bomb threats to Jewish community centres in London, Vancouver and Winnipeg that week, along with others targeting Jewish institutions in the United States.
On March 23, Israeli police had arrested a 19-year-old Israeli-American dual citizen in Ashkelon on charges of making bomb threats to Jewish communities in Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand, some dating back six months. However, neither a Jerusalem Post story, nor another in Ha’aretz, mentioned threats to Canadian JCCs. n