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SFU student organizations call on school to reinstate varsity football

It's been a month since the Burnaby post-secondary announced the immediate termination its football program.
SFU's Burnaby campus. | Simon Fraser University.

A coalition of Simon Fraser University (SFU) student organizations have joined calling on the Burnaby post-secondary's administration to reinstate its football program.

More than a month ago, SFU president Joy Johnson announced the school was immediately terminating the football program.

In an open letter, coalition representatives believe the school's decision is not in line with the values of the university.

This includes Eshana Baran, Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) spokesperson; Mason Glover, student-athlete advisory committee representative and former player; Tiara Cash, student-athlete retirement researcher; Marie Haddad with the SFU students of African and Caribbean Ancestry; and Chanetelle Spicer of the Simon Fraser Public Interest Group.

The group highlights the decision to terminate the program goes against the university’s commitment to the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion policy while also noting the alleged lack of major stakeholder consultation and harm caused, among other issues.

The letter demands that SFU administration publicly meet with stakeholders and address questions the public might have, find a way to reverse the cancellation and a written apology be sent out to student-athletes for invasion of privacy, stemming from the school allegedly removing personal belongings from the locker room with no prior notice.

"This decision has had a significant negative impact on the mental health of the student-athletes, their performance in exams, and their ability to find a suitable opportunity to apply to universities and join a team elsewhere," the letter reads.

"It is the university's duty to consider the well-being of our students when making decisions that affect their academic and personal lives."

Meanwhile, a B.C. Supreme Court decision has yet to be made on a civil claim filed on April 13 on behalf of five SFU football players, claiming the school had breached its contract with players.

In an earlier interview with the NOW, SFU athletic director Theresa Hanson said the school explored "all avenues" to keep the program going.

On April 20, SFU announced Johnson had directed the school to appoint a special advisor to review and make recommendations regarding potential sustainable opportunities for football.

The Red Leafs had competed in NCAA Div. II football since 2010.