Students, teacher stabbed in gender studies class

A man has been charged over the stabbing of a professor and two students during a gender issues class at a Canadian university in what’s been described as a hate crime.

Jun 30, 2023, updated Jun 30, 2023
Photo: Nick Iwanyshyn/The Canadian Press via AP

Photo: Nick Iwanyshyn/The Canadian Press via AP

Waterloo Regional Police say Geovanny Villalba-Aleman, an international student who had been studying at the University of Waterloo, faces three counts of aggravated assault, four counts of assault with a weapon and two counts of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

Waterloo Police Chief Mark Crowell said the suspect, who had been interviewed by police, wanted to make a “statement” about gender identity, and that he had asked the professor to verify that the class was about gender studies before attacking on Wednesday.

A 38-year-old female professor, a 20-year-old female student and 19-year-old male student were sent to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. About 40 students were in the class at the time.

Several students tried to stop the attack, including by throwing chairs at the suspect, while others fled the room. The suspect initially posed as a victim before police identified him and arrested him, Crowell said.

Crowell said that authorities have seen an uptick in hate-motivated incidents toward the LGBTQ+ community.

“This is a troubling trend that we’ve seen, especially during Pride month,” Crowell said.

“I think we all know there is a polarisation in society right now.”

The suspect, who does not have a criminal record, appeared in court for a bail hearing on Thursday.

Nick Manning, associate vice president of communications for the University of Waterloo, said the suspect graduated from the university at the end of the fall term in 2022.

Manning said that the stabbing occurred in Philosophy 202, which, according to the university website, focuses on “gender issues”.

A website description of the course said it: “will examine the construction of gender in the history of philosophy through contemporary discussions. What is gender? How do we ‘do” gender? How can we ‘undo’ gender – and do we want to?”

“Our entire community is really concerned that this would happen here. It’s a big shock,” Manning said.

InDaily in your inbox. The best local news every workday at lunch time.
By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement andPrivacy Policy & Cookie Statement. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Yusuf Kaymak, a student at the university, told CTV News that he was in the class at the time and that about 40 students were there.

“The guy basically walked in and asked the teacher if he was the professor, he said ‘yeah,’ then he pulled out a knife and after that, everybody just ran out,” Kaymak said.

Some students questioned why it took hours for them to receive an emergency alert on what had happened.

Mara Crassweller, a graduate student, said it took about three hours for her to receive an emergency alert from the university after the stabbings. Brianna Egan, a 23-year-old accounting student, said her class in the same building as the gender studies lecture let out minutes before Wednesday’s stabbing.

“(It) was a bit terrifying to be honest, especially with how long it took the university to respond,” she said.

James Rush, a university vice president, acknowledged the alert system “did not activate as quickly as we would have normally expected,” despite being tested earlier on Wednesday.

“It was a very unfortunate delay,” Rush said.

Rush vowed to be transparent about what happened.

Students were expected to gather for a moment of silence in the university’s arts quad later on Thursday afternoon.

In a written statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the stabbings “horrifying and unacceptable.”

“This type of violence must always be condemned. Our thoughts are with the professor and two students who were injured,” he said.

-with AAP

Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InDaily.
All rights reserved.