To: Graduate students at the University of Waterloo

From: Vivek Goel

Date: Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Subject: An update from President Goel

An update from President Goel

July 4, 2023

As we return to campus after the long weekend it is important that we reflect upon the tragic event of last week. We cannot go on as if nothing has changed following that horrific hate-filled attack. A professor and two students were brutally stabbed, and an entire class was terrorized, simply because of the subject that was being taught. The attack forever changed the lives of those directly assaulted. We wish each of them the best as they recover, and we support them in their healing. While their physical wounds may heal quickly, we know that the emotional impact will be with them for the rest of their lives. 
I appreciate the support that colleagues in the Faculty of Arts have provided for everyone involved. This week, Philosophy 202/Gender and Social Justice 222 will continue and colleagues will support students as they return to class. While not everyone may wish to, or choose to continue with the course, it is essential that the offering remain in place. I recognize that it will be difficult for Gender and Social Justice, Philosophy, and other instructors who teach about gender issues to return to the classroom. We will continue to consider appropriate security on our campuses and in our classrooms. Our values of openness and inclusion enable an environment of free expression and dialogue.

There are many issues that we must grapple with as a community as we move forward. 

  1. We are engaging in a comprehensive review of our emergency response and communications systems, including the protocols around the use of the WatSAFE app.
  2. We will consult with the community on how to best ensure physical safety in an environment that remains collegial and non-discriminatory. Specifically, many of the tools that would enhance safety such as controlled access to buildings, closed-circuit cameras, ID badges and additional security can also have unintended or unwanted impacts on some or all members of the community. 
  3. We know that members of our community will need time and support as they process the events of last week. In addition to the supports which have already been shared, Campus Wellness is facilitating three virtual healing spaces this week for students, followed by in-person options. Details about the virtual spaces will be shared today via the University’s social media accounts. We know that faculty members and staff need additional supports too. In consultation with Faculties, Human Resources and the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-racism, we will examine ways in which we can provide such supports. I appreciate that many in the Waterloo community have taken on tasks well outside the scope of their usual duties since Wednesday, giving support to those directly affected, being an ear for colleagues and students who need someone to listen and reaching out when and where they can to ensure that there is always connection.
  4. We need to consider how we best support students to ensure they are able to thrive and succeed. In recent years, considerable work has been done through the Committee on Student Mental Health, the Student Experience Review, and the development of the Waterloo Student Engagement and Experience (WatSEE) Framework. However, much more needs to be done in order to ensure that every student has access to, and benefits from, the resources that are available and is able to take part in our educational and community activities in a manner that supports their personal well-being. 
  5. We should also consider how we can ensure that all students have an opportunity to learn and be engaged in activities that allow them to become citizens who respect humanity. It is that humanity which creates the richness of experience that our community offers. We must ensure that everyone understands that while they are free to express their views, it must be done in a way which respects the safety and well-being of everyone. There is no room on our campuses for hate or violence in any form. 

I know that in the days and weeks to come there will be other issues identified that we will need to work on together. We remain committed to engaging with the community and keeping you informed of the actions that are being taken.

Resources available for support

  • We have all just experienced something traumatic. Please know that support is available. If needed, please communicate with your supervisor or professor about temporary adjustments to work or studies. You can also contact any of the following resources:
    • Students: If you feel overwhelmed or anxious and need to talk to somebody, please contact Counselling Services at Campus Wellness: 519-888-4096. In-person and virtual supports are available.
    • Employees: Our Employee and Family Assistance Program is available 24/7 for counselling, coaching and support. Call 1-800-663-1142 or visit
  • These community supports are available as well:
  • IMPACT (Integrated Mobile Police and Crisis Team) is a partnership between the UW Special Constable Service, Counselling Services, and the Canadian Mental Health Association. IMPACT workers provide Mental Health care in after-hours settings when counselling is unavailable. IMPACT workers are available by contacting the UWSCS at 519-888-4911. IMPACT hours are 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Vivek Goel

Vivek Goel
President and Vice-Chancellor
Office of the President

2023 communications to graduate students