Simon Fraser University athletics commits to dropping ‘Clan’ team name

Click to play video: 'Students, athletes call for SFU to rename athletic teams'
Students, athletes call for SFU to rename athletic teams
WATCH: A petition is gathering widespread support to get SFU to rename it's varsity sports teams from "The Clan". Jordan Armstrong reports. – Jul 2, 2020

Simon Fraser University has expressed support for a movement to change the name of its athletic teams.

During a virtual meeting Thursday night, SFU’s sports administration committed to getting rid of “The Clan.”

The announcement came after a number of SFU student-athletes spoke out against the nickname through the “I am not your Clansman” social media campaign.

A committee will be formed to come up with a new name and a final proposal will go to the university president for approval.

Mason Glover, a running back on SFU’s football team, said a poll of the 130 student athletes who participated in Thursday’s meeting found more than 90 per cent in favour of dropping “the clan” and “clansmen” as their sports names.

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Glover told Global News he’s optimistic a change is going to come.

“I think we have strong community backing for this,” he said. “So I think we will see a change.”

The Clan nickname is a reference to explorer Simon Fraser’s Scottish heritage.

Click to play video: 'SFU review Clan athletics team nickname'
SFU review Clan athletics team nickname

But it is often misinterpreted as a reference to the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan, particularly in the U.S., where SFU teams compete as part of the NCAA.

“The Gaelic meaning of the word ‘clan’ actually has a deep and rich meaning: family and heritage,” Glover said.

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“It’s actually a beautiful thing and we acknowledge that. But the negative connotations that we’ve come across as far as being called the Clan kind of outweigh… any other possibility of trying to keep the name. I think it’s too far gone at this point.”

The news comes as other sports teams are facing pressure to change their names.

The NFL’s Washington Redskins are undergoing a “thorough review” of their team name following criticism from their sponsor FedEx.

In a statement issued Friday, the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos did not commit to a name change, saying the club will ramp up consultation with the Inuit community.

— With files from Simon Little, Kirby Bourne and The Canadian Press

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