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Campaign to drop ‘The Clan’ as SFU athletics nickname builds steam

Click to play video: 'Students, athletes call for SFU to rename athletic teams' Students, athletes call for SFU to rename athletic teams
Students, athletes call for SFU to rename athletic teams – Jul 2, 2020

A movement to change Simon Fraser University’s sports team nickname is building steam, amid a new petition and social media campaign.

SFU’s sports teams are known as “The Clan,” a reference to explorer Simon Fraser’s Scottish heritage.

But it is often misinterpreted as a reference to the white supremicist group the Ku Klux Klan, particularly in the U.S.

Read more: Anti-racism protests reignite debate over changing SFU’s athletic team name

That’s an issue for SFU athletes, who are the only Canadian college athletes to play in the U.S.-based NCAA.

“Not a lot of people understand it in (the Scottish) sense, that’s not their first thought,” said former SFU basketball player Othneil Spence.

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“It’s hard to go on road trips and continually be asked about the name, about The Clan. ‘Why is your school named The Clan?'”

Click to play video: 'SFU review Clan athletics team nickname' SFU review Clan athletics team nickname
SFU review Clan athletics team nickname – Jun 10, 2020

Spencer has created a petition calling for a name change that has attracted more than 7,500 signatures in the last three weeks.

He’s also among SFU athletes that have taken to social media with the “I am not your Clansman” campaign.

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“I think the I am not your Clansman movement is to show that athletes are fed up at this point, and there is change that is needed to be made, and people in the upper levels need to take action,” SFU football player Mason Glover told Global News.

READ MORE: SFU prof says ‘Clan’ team name should change, puts student athletes at risk

Debate over the team name is not new.

An SFU professor led a petition calling for a new name several years ago, and a survey of of SFU athletes last year found 77 per cent wanted the name changed.

Former SFU football player Matthew Edwards told Global News the school’s administration had promised it was listening to students about the issue, but never took any concrete steps.

Click to play video: 'What makes the SFU Clan so special on and off the basketball court?' What makes the SFU Clan so special on and off the basketball court?
What makes the SFU Clan so special on and off the basketball court? – Feb 22, 2017

“We decided that enough is enough. We wanted to be heard. We are going to be heard. And now is the time, we’re seeing it all throughout the world,” he said.

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Read more: Alberta climbing community seeks change for ‘racist, sexist’ mountain, trail names

“Frankly this should have happened a long time ago.”

The university is expected to make a decision on the team name before classes resume in the fall.

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