VANCOUVER – Varsity sports teams at Simon Fraser University will soon have a new name after the school’s president announced it is retiring the ‘Clan’ moniker following a community engagement process.
In a letter, Andrew Petter says student views were the most important factor influencing the decision to change the Clan name, which is a nod to the Scottish heritage of the school’s namesake.
A report from the athletics department says a survey of community members showed the name’s association with the American white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan was harmful to students.
Petter says students shared stories of unsafe situations and upsetting conversations stemming from misinterpretation or misuse of the name derived from a Gaelic term for a close-knit group of relatives.
Simon Fraser is the only Canadian university affiliated with the U.S.-Based National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, and the report says the old team name was inappropriate in that context, while it was also at odds with the school’s efforts to promote reconciliation.
The process to choose a new team is expected to will wrap up by the end of the year, with athletes competing under the names Simon Fraser or SFU in the meantime.