UBC student group falsely framed for 'dangerous stickers' still seeking answers: 'Vitriol,' 'malice'

Saga unfolding at B.C. university has put students at risk, with many facing threats and violence online

UBC student group falsely framed for 'dangerous stickers' still seeking answers: 'Vitriol,' 'malice'

The University of British Columbia (UBC) increased security measures to protect students and staff after “I (heart) Hamas” stickers spotted on campus reportedly led to students facing threats of deportation and violence online.

The stickers, found on posters advertising a student walkout for Palestine, indicated the UBC Social Justice Centre (SJC), which is dedicated to research, outreach and action on social justice issues, placed them around campus.

However, the centre’s name and logo were wrongfully used in proclaiming support for Hamas and were distributed by an independent contractor working part time for Jewish student organization Hillel BC, according to The Ubyssey.

The incident drew attention online with pictures of the stickers being widely shared on social media, leading many to accuse SJC of supporting Hamas, which is currently listed as a terrorist organization by the Canadian government.

UBC SJC always denied responsibility for 'dangerous stickers'

The UBC Social Justice Centre denied being responsible for the “dangerous stickers,” calling them defamatory and part of a smear campaign to undermine their advocacy efforts against the “Israeli state’s ongoing genocide in Gaza” while urging the Alma Mater Society (AMS) of UBC to investigate further.

AMS senior communications and marketing manager Eric Lowe told Yahoo News Canada the stickers created a stressful situation on campus, and it is their priority to ensure safety of all students, but they are "are not in a position to investigate."

"Hillel BC has not provided additional details regarding who the contractor is or the scope of their work. Hillel BC is not affiliated or funded by the AMS, so we are not in a position to investigate. If there is a desire for more to be done, UBC would be the right organization to contact," Lowe explained.

Meanwhile, Jewish student organization Hillel BC severed ties with the independent contractor who “participated in the distribution of offensive stickers around UBC campus.”

“The actions of this individual do not in any way reflect the values of Hillel,” the organization posted on Instagram.

Yahoo News Canada reached out to Hillel BC to learn more about the identity of the contractor held accountable for placing stickers around the UBC campus but Executive Director Rob Philipp said "this incident has nothing to do with Hillel BC."

"When Hillel found out about the activity it terminated its relationship with the independent contractor who was doing some unrelated part time work for us," Philipp added.

SJC wants Jewish student group to apologize for ‘harm’ caused

Following Hillel BC's post, SJC also issued a statement explaining how the erroneous use of the centre’s name resulted in unacceptable “malice” and “vitriol” against its members, especially Muslim, immigrant and racialized students who received deportation threats.

Despite Hillel BC’s clarification on the matter, students continue to receive threats on a daily basis calling them as “Jew-hating scumbags” and threatening to publish their addresses, representatives from SJC told City News and CBC.

In their statement, SJC said Hillel has not reached out to "apologize for the harm this incident has caused.”

SJC demands UBC to investigate ‘connection’ between Hillel BC and sticker culprit

SJC also called on the University of British Columbia to release an official statement addressing the “act of defamation” and urgently investigating the “connection between Hillel BC and this ‘independent contractor.’”

The University of British Columbia told Yahoo News Canada it is aware of the situation and working on keeping the community members safe.

“It has come to the university’s attention that an independent contractor that has worked with Hillel BC recently posted offensive stickers around our Vancouver campus. The stickers have exposed UBC Social Justice Centre members to vitriol and malice, which is unacceptable. The university has taken quick action to have the stickers removed,” a UBC spokesperson said.

“We will continue to monitor the situation here on campus with additional security patrols,” the spokesperson added.

When asked if the “additional security patrols” involved the local police, the spokesperson told Yahoo News Canada, “that these patrols [are] conducted by UBC’s Campus Security team – not outside folks.”