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Some University of Waterloo students still feel uneasy since stabbing attack

"I didn't expect Waterloo to have that kind of violence. It's a pretty safe campus," says Shub Mano, among University of Waterloo students who say they're still feeling shaken after the June 28 stabbing incident in a gender studies classroom.

Student petition demands security upgrades after teacher, 2 students stabbed June 28 in class

closeups of four people

Some University of Waterloo students say they're still feeling shaken after the June 28 stabbings of three people at the southern Ontario school.

Soon after the attack inside a gender studies classroom that sent a teacher and two students to hospital, Waterloo Regional Police said they believe it was hate motivated. A 24-year-old recent graduate faces 10 charges, including aggravated assault.

The incident still has some, like engineering student Shub Mano, feeling shocked.

"It's been kind of surreal that the whole thing even happened on Waterloo [campus]," he said. "I didn't expect Waterloo to have that kind of violence. It's a pretty safe campus."

Psychology student Ria Gupta said the incident has given her nightmares.

"[The university] should tell us what they've done, what steps they've taken to further secure the campus," she said. "Like, what have you done after the incident that makes me feel like I want to go to university again. I don't feel like stepping foot into the campus."

She said she now tries to avoid walking around campus alone because she feels vulnerable as a woman.

Gupta said she also feels nervous going into the Hagey Hall building to attend class in a room located right next to where the stabbings happened.

Caleb Williams is a physics and engineering exchange student from Chicago.

Williams went to a high school equipped with a metal detector at all entrances. He said it's not the right solution for the University of Waterloo.

"In one sense, it prevents people who want to do something bad from doing it. But at the same time, is that really solving the root cause? That might be putting a Band-Aid over a gaping wound."

Students asking university to do more

A group of students have started an online petition demanding a variety of security upgrades, including an emergency alert system that can send out text messages and robocalls to students on campus.

The petition, which had 167 signatures by Monday, also suggested installing a campus siren to alert students during emergencies.

A day after the attack, university officials said the in-house emergency alert system — called WatSAFE — didn't work as expected after the stabbings.

Rebecca Elming, a university spokesperson, confirmed the app sent an alert to students 90 minutes after the incident.

In response to the petition, the University of Waterloo sent CBC News a statement saying it has "taken steps to address the delay in the use of the WatSAFE app and is exploring other options for our emergency response system in the long term".

Community forums to hear concerns

Mano said he hopes the university learns from its mistakes.

"Information wasn't provided till like hours after the incident," he said, thinking about the confusion many students may have felt hours after the incident first happened.

"Now I understand that they don't want to fear monger … [but] it'd be nice if there were more clear instructions … A lot of people learned [about the emergency] through their professors or through class announcements, which shouldn't be the way that information like that should be distributed."

Engineering student Maya Wei hopes the university will find ways to support students who are still feeling uneasy.

"We got a lot of announcements saying that they were going to be like rallies and gatherings. I feel like that doesn't really do anything for me," she said. "It's not really like a solid action."

The university will host two community forums on July 17 to hear from staff and students about their concerns and look for ways to "make campus safer and more inclusive, promote well-being and move forward together."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aastha Shetty

CBC journalist

Aastha Shetty can be reached via email aastha.shetty@cbc.ca or by tweeting her at @aastha_shetty

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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