Petition circulates to change SFU’s team name
By Jillian McMullen, Staff Writer
There has been an online petition circulating recently among staff and students across the SFU campus. The petition started with Holly Andersen, a philosophy professor at the school, who is aiming to change the school’s sports team name from the “SFU Clan” to something less “offensive.”
In the Change.org petition, Andersen states “clan” sounds the same whether spelled with a “c” or a “k”, and she claims this phonetic similarity cites, albeit unintentionally, a dark moment in history. “This is not a history we can just wish away by saying, ‘but that’s not what WE mean by it!’ We don’t get to decide all by ourselves what words mean,” the petition reads.
“SFU Clan” is meant to honour the man for whom the school is named after and his Scottish heritage. A “clan” is a group of people who unite together under actual, and sometimes symbolic, lineage. However, the petition argues that because SFU is the only Canadian school in the NCAA and often competes in the US, the school must recognize that the word connotes the country’s history with the KKK, especially in light of the recent protests and counter-protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“We disrespect our competitors, especially, but not only Black student athletes, by forcing them to play against a team named the ‘Clan,’” Andersen writes in the petition.
As of the writing of this article, the petition has over 400 signatures.
So, what does this kind of logic mean for Douglas athletes and the Royals? According to New West’s tourism website, the city received its nickname—the Royal City—from being named after Queen Victoria’s favourite place in London, Westminster. And this is supposed to have inspired the name for our sports team.
While the Douglas College team name is the “Royals,” any member of the Royals is said to be part of the “Pride.” Similar to the meaning behind “SFU Clan,” this is meant to create a feeling of family between athletes.
The Royals namesake is obviously less problematic than SFU’s but definitely alludes to a colonial past. Canada has its own political debates taking place, so the question remains: Whether Canadian athletics should be subject to the American political climate, or not. While this is a difficult question to definitively answer, it is evident from the more figurative meanings behind the team names, sports in post-secondary are not meant to be divisive but are rather meant to create a sense of community between students.