« [S]the students shared stories of dangerous situations, overwhelming conversations and the harms they suffer due to misinterpretation and / or misuse of the team’s name, ”he said in a statement. “As a university that is committed to fostering a supportive environment for our students, we have an obligation to take their voices and concerns into account.”
RELATED: Student Athletes To Weigh In On SFU’s Name Change From ‘Clan’
Although he noted that there were several reasons behind this decision, it was the opinions of student athletes that were most important.
At a meeting with student athletes in July, 97% of attendees voted to change the name.
SFU is withdrawing its varsity track and field team name, effective today. For more information and updates on the name change process, visit https://t.co/RtEiXTlVy3.#RepTheLeaf pic.twitter.com/9qwEUPaa6C
– SFU Athletics (@sfu_athletics) 12 août 2020
Until a new name is chosen, teams will compete against each other as “Simon Fraser” or “SFU”.
The process of choosing a new name will begin in September and should be completed by the end of the year.
As petitions urged the university to change the name of its team long before this year, anti-racist protests and support for the Black Lives Matter movement have renewed discussion about the name change.
SFU began the review in January and acknowledged there were associations with the Scottish nickname and the Ku Klux Klan.
Student athletes have spoken out against the embarrassment and shame the name brings, especially when traveling and playing in the United States.
RELATED: “Extreme Embarrassment When Name Appears”: SFU Athlete Advocates Changing Team Name To “Clan”
Othniel Spence, a student athlete at SFU, argued that the name “the clan” should not be used in North America. It was one of the students who spoke out about the name change, starting a petition to do so. He also wrote an essay describing his gambling experiences under this name.
“There’s a lot of criticism that we get from random people, whether it’s at the airport or his fans on the other team. This is a whole other burden that SFU student athletes must shoulder. It is very difficult for us and it can be very traumatic for people of color. I am extremely proud to play for Simon Fraser, I am extremely embarrassed when the name appears, ”he told NEWS 1130 in July.
The name has been said to be a nod to Scottish heritage, but this has been debated by a professor who has been pushing for change for several years.
-With files from Lisa Steacy