March 13, 2023

Dear SFU350,

We recognize on March 1, 2023, members of SFU350, in collaboration with Banking on a Better Future, attempted to host a peaceful protest in the Student Union Building (SUB) on Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Burnaby Campus. We also understand that the purpose of the sit-in was to encourage the SFSS to divest from fossil fuels through ending our banking relationship with Scotiabank. 

A staff member of the SFSS asked members of SFU350 to remove their posters and resources about the campaign and prevented the protest from happening, even threatening to call security to forcibly remove SFU350 members from the SUB. This does not comply with our Emergency Response Plan for Threat of Harm, nor does it align with section IP-9 of our Issues Policies on Police and Militarization

We want to acknowledge that many of the members of SFU350 belong to racialized groups and thus experienced further harm due to racial disparities in policing and security. We take concerns about discrimination very seriously and are taking internal action to discuss this factor further with our staff. In section IP-8 of our Issues Policies on Anti-Racism, the SFSS states that it is in support of “advocating for clear SFU Campus Safety and security policies, practices, and procedures”. This includes our own building protocols. 

The SFSS Council would like to reaffirm that we are in support of protests and the freedom of students to protest on social, political, and economic issues that impact them in the Society, even when it is aimed towards the SFSS. As stated in IP-6 of our Issues Policies on Climate Justice and Sustainability, the SFSS supports “protests and boycotts against corporations and companies that support the fossil fuel industry such as banks and insurers of fossil fuel projects”. 

We will make it clear to SFSS staff members that they don’t need to intervene when political, social or economic peaceful protest and demonstration are taken against the Society, in line with our IP and the Emergency Response Plan for the SUB, and the appropriateness of escalating to student leadership and immediate SFSS management on matters that require a political response and where there is no immediate physical threat. The SFSS Council is in support of students’ right to protest as is protected by Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

We acknowledge that it is our duty as a Society to ensure that emergency protocols are followed. We apologize for the our lapse in judgment in this situation and will work together amongst the SFSS to ensure our protocol on responding to incidents such as calling security for removal of personnel in the SUB is followed and done in a transformative justice, equity centered mechanism, where persons or groups causing no immediate harm are dealt with through dialogue and de-escalation to address root issues. 

As a society with deep history of student activism, we are in support of labour, environment and student action including inside of the SUB as a space for student and worker organizing to educate others, agitate, and make change for the betterment of material conditions for students and workers and society at large.

In solidarity, 

Executive Committee 2022/2023