To: Graduate students at the University of Waterloo

From: Provost Office-General

Date: Thursday, June 29, 2023

Subject: Acknowledging the trauma of Hagey Hall incident

Acknowledging the trauma of Hagey Hall incident

June 29, 2023

Yesterday our community was confronted by violence.  

In a shocking attack at approximately 3:40 p.m., a member of our campus community stabbed a professor and two students with a knife in Hagey Hall. All three people were taken to hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.  

Out of respect for their privacy we are not sharing more information about their identities. I acknowledge that many of you are aware of who is involved. If you know the individuals, be conscious of their need for care and support, as well as the trauma they are experiencing. 

The suspect was arrested on campus shortly after the attack through swift collaboration between Waterloo Regional Police Service and the campus Special Constable Service. We are grateful to these first responders for their quick action and for the immediate help from the IMPACT mental health crisis team who were on hand to support the students in the class very soon after the incident. 

Hagey Hall will be open today and all classes and other activities scheduled will proceed as planned.  

We recognize that this event may require you to step away from your work or your studies temporarily. Please check in with your supervisor or professor, as appropriate, if you need some time to do this. 

Addressing causes, and harms 

The attack happened in a classroom during a lecture for Philosophy 202 – Gender Studies. Many news outlets and social media sources will share information on the events of Wednesday. I acknowledge that many people will speculate about the motivation for this attack; we must be patient and have confidence in the judicial process. I urge you to focus your energy on supporting one another during this very traumatic time.  

In the coming days many of you will have questions about why this happened and about the University’s response. My commitment to you is that senior leaders will be as transparent as possible with the information we have. 

I am aware that the emergency alert system, despite being tested earlier in the day, did not activate as quickly as we would all have expected. One of our priorities in assessing how we can better support you in future will be to look again at WatSAFE and our emergency notification systems to ensure we have processes that work as expected when we need them. 

There is help available 

We have all just experienced something traumatic. Please know that support is available. You can contact any of the following resources: 

These community supports are available as well: 

  • Here 24/7 - 1-844-437-3247 (available for immediate support) 
  • Grand River Hospital - 519-749-4300 
  • St. Mary's Hospital - 519-744-3311 
  • Good2Talk - 1-866-925-5454 
  • Crisis Services Canada - 1-833-456-4566 or by text 45645 
  • Empower Me (1-844-741-6389)  
  • MATES is a one-to-one peer support program that provides services to students who are experiencing personal or academic concerns or low-level mental health and wellness difficulties  
  • 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 pm to 12 am Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 

Please use these services if you need them, they are there for you. 

Opportunity to gather 

I plan to share details in the coming hours about an opportunity for the campus community to gather to start a process that will allow us to acknowledge the many harms that our community is experiencing right now. Please watch out for this information on the university’s social media channels and via email. 

Thank you for the care and compassion you have already shown to each other. Don’t stop reaching out and connecting, we all need one another right now.

UW Logo

James W.E. Rush
Vice-President, Academic & Provost
Office of the Provost

2023 communications to graduate students