Simon Fraser University students say they are “ashamed” of their school after it threatened disciplinary action over a mural that questions the school’s role in the climate crisis.
The mural (shown above) was painted recently in SFU’s convocation mall, with the goal of being up temporarily until Sept. 28. It urges SFU to “act now” in regards to the climate crisis.
In response, SFU sent a letter to student environmental group SFU350 saying the mural was painted “without necessary approvals” and that “this constitutes misconduct under SFU policy.”
The school said in the letter that it would be removing the mural and investigating the matter with “potential corrective and/or disciplinary action” that could include students being charged for the cost of removing the mural.
“We are disappointed that student members of SFU350 took this action and defaced our premises,” reads the letter.
The SFU letter sparked criticism of the school on social media, with Burnaby Coun. Alison Gu tweeting that it was “disappointing to see. Peaceful protest — with no harm to people or property — is a fundamental tenet of democracy. I hope this decision will be reversed, and while we’re at it, that SFU divests too.”
SFU350 issued a statement on Friday condemning the response from the school, saying the group has clearly stated the mural would only be up until Sept. 28, the day of an SFU board of governors meeting in which a climate emergency declaration is to be voted on. SFU350 wants the school to fully divest its portfolio from fossil fuel companies.
Am embarrassed to be an @SFU grad - harassing students for a mural in a sad attempt to deflect from a need to be divesting from #FossilFuel?— Maureen Curran - aka J Mo (she/her) (@jmocurran) September 26, 2021
Wonder who needs to be schooled here? @SethDKlein maybe you can send them some copies of your book?
It’s a good day for A Good War https://t.co/CYY9jqSIYR
The group also said in its statement that the mural is non-toxic, temporary and washable, adding that the school was welcome to test a patch of the mural to ensure it is removable. The group also says that asking for permission from the institution it is protesting “undermines the people’s ability to protest.”
“We are ashamed the university has taken this stance regarding a community lead climate action,” reads the statement. “We are ashamed the university has chosen to try and silence students’ voices. We are ashamed that the university is trying to protect its image instead of hearing students’ concerns and acting on the climate crisis.”