York University, one of Canada’s largest post-secondary institutions, has recently been vandalized with hate graffiti targeting Jewish, Muslim, and black students.
An email from the administration was sent to York alumni last week, expressing concern after drawn swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans were found in a school classroom earlier this month, following other incidents of Islamophobic graffiti and anti-black messaging.
“The safety of our students, faculty, staff and alumni is our highest priority, and we are committed to fostering an environment where everyone can learn, work and live safely,” wrote Mamdouh Shoukri, York president and vice-chancellor, together with Rhonda L. Lenton, York vice-president.
“This kind of hate does not represent who we are, and is in complete disaccord with our values of respect and inclusion. We condemn all acts of hate, and we embrace diversity as the very foundation of our institution,” they stated.
“I definitely do not feel comfortable walking around school grounds anymore,” said Chaim Baker, a fourth year Communications major at York. “I used to walk around with a kippah (skull cap) with pride. I shouldn’t be ashamed of my Judaism. But I am starting to re-think that now.”
With over 60,000 students, the university is a community of facility and students from over 157 countries and seeks to promote the values of equity, inclusion, academic freedom and freedom of religion.
“We live in the 21st century,” said Kristine Agousty, a fourth year student of the Schulich School of Business. “I should not have to fear walking around my university campus because of my skin color. Just seems ridiculous.”
Shoukri and Lenton wrote that they are working on an ongoing basis with Toronto police to identify who has been responsible for these hate acts and that York’s security staff is always on-call and responds immediately to these incidents.