Written by: Gabrielle McLaren, Features Editor
Last week, The Peak reported that the Redeemed Christian Fellowship (RCF), a club recognised by the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS), had used the society’s logo without permission to advertise an event that raised concerns with the LGBTQ+ community. The event used the acronym LGBT to reflect its theme: ‘Get-a-Grip 2018: Let God Be True’. It was slated to feature Kari Simpson, an activist who has spoken up against the queer community, as a facilitator.
Reacting to concerns and outrage online, SFSS vice-president external relations Jasdeep Gill released a statement online, reading: “Typically, clubs submit their requests for printed materials (banners, posters, flyers, etc.) in advance, which provides us with an opportunity to review these requests and approve or reject them for publishing.”
According to the SFSS, this protocol was not followed in this case. In an email interview with The Peak, Gill said that: “In the past, when issues surrounding the SFSS logo and resources have come up, the society has handled them on a case-by-case basis. While we have staff who are in charge of making sure that logos and resources are used appropriately for events, sometimes club executives decide to not use the provided process.”
According to the SFSS Printing Guidelines for Departmental Student Unions and Clubs: “All promotional material MUST include an SFSS logo, regardless of funds used to print the documents, to remain an active club.” The SFSS communications coordinator is responsible for reviewing all material and ensuring that it corresponds with SFSS values. The SFSS Brand Guide instructs DSUs and clubs on how to use the logo aesthetically, but not on how and when to seek permission to use it. Facebook users questioned the guide’s clarity in response to the SFSS’ original statement, questioning if the misuse could be an innocent mistake.
As far as the SFSS is aware, posters were only placed near the event’s venue (the Anvil Centre in New Westminster, which has just announced that they have canceled Get-a-Grip’s booking). According to Gill, “The RCF club has assured us that they have removed all of the printed posters with the SFSS logo on them.” Nevertheless, Gill stated that this incident has caused the SFSS to reflect on the way that it monitors its clubs’ activities. “There is surely room for us to improve as a student society, and we intend to do so moving forward.”
In the meantime, other services around campus have offered their support to the LGBTQ+ community and to students who may have been hurt by the unsanctioned logo usage.
The Interfaith Centre’s director and head chaplain, Victor Thomas told The Peak when we reached out that, though their centre is not associated with the SFSS, “Our chaplains and myself are always available to meet with anyone who would like to chat about these events or any other issue. Our chaplains are here to provide any person a space to reflect, discuss, or to speak about one’s spiritual journey.”
Thomas mentioned that the centre’s space and services are open to all people and used by over 1400 visitors a week. “These people come from a wide variety of backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, religions, identities, orientations, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, both domestic and international.” He also encouraged students who feel that they are in a crisis to reach out to SFU Health and Counselling if needed.
Meanwhile, Out on Campus (OOC), a service offered by the SFSS, published a statement on their Facebook page reading, “We want all of our students to know that we stand with them, now and always. We will continue to work tirelessly to make our spaces, and our campus, safe for students of minority communities most at risk for stigma, violence, and isolation.”
In response to The Peak’s email inquiry, OOC coordinator Dani McNeil-Willmott said that: “. . . our space is always open to those that are seeking refuge in a time of crisis. No matter how big or small. OOC as a space exists as a safe haven for those that feel displaced elsewhere. We offer support here but also are able to help students seek out additional support resources whether they be on campus or off.”
As students, groups, and campus services assert themselves, the fate of the RCF remains unclear.
“At this moment we are unable to provide more details in regards to the RCF club and their current standing with the SFSS.” – Jasdeep Gill, SFSS vice-president external relations
“At this moment we are unable to provide more details in regards to the RCF club and their current standing with the SFSS,” Gill said in an email to The Peak.
Other organisations listed as sponsors on the Get-a-Grip event poster were youth4Christ, the Redeemed Campus Fellowship, and Grace Chapel. Ronald Brown, a representative of Grace Chapel, commented to The Vancouver Star, “Our teaching is based on the word of God, and whatever the word of God says, that’s what we’re going to be expounding. We see ourselves, the church, as a hospital, right? That’s where people who are sick and in need of help come.”
The Peak reached out to the RCF through their official club email and Facebook page, but received no response.