What Grinds Our Gears: The gondola getting more attention than the pipeline expansion

SFU really only helps people when it’s convenient for them, huh?

Supporting the gondola is great, but it isn’t the most pressing issue on Burnaby Mountain. Photo courtesy of Translink

by Madeleine Chan, Opinions Editor

Ever since a Burnaby Mountain gondola seemed like a very real possibility, broadcast news, web, and social media have been non-stop. Their focus is valid, not having ignored Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP) issues for four years like SFU. Albeit mainstream news always has its issues around newsworthiness, but SFU? Literally no excuse. Their lack of action on the TMEP and their enormous effort into promoting the gondola is so indicative of their true priorities.

SFU helped organize an open letter to Burnaby’s mayor and council, getting the support of a shit ton of on-campus businesses — creating a decked-out gondola support website to match. They constantly post about it on their social media pages. Even president Joy Johnson tweeted how “thrilled” she is over gondola feedback. But when the SFSS rallied 13 student unions nationwide after actively fighting against the pipeline expansion for years? Nothing. Where’s this kind of action from the school on the TMEP when they are literally preparing to drill through Burnaby Mountain right now?

Of course, the gondola would be a great addition to campus. But I cannot fathom the sheer amount of effort SFU is putting into its promotion when the TMEP — which would invalidate Indigenous sovereignty, bring catastrophic environmental consequences, and put students in harm’s way — isn’t also part of this action. Maybe it’s that building the gondola seems closer to reality, but that doesn’t mean the same effort and support shouldn’t go towards stopping the TMEP.

SFU finally broke their four year silence in December 2020 with a short statement that essentially said “we won’t try to stop the TMEP, but we can try to keep you safe from it’s hazardous fallout.” And they had the audacity to call professor Dr. Tim Takaro’s 10-day tree pipeline protest “fearless” only a few months prior? Amplifying his bravery doesn’t cover SFU’s own cowardice around public action.

It’s not hard to speak your mind, SFU. But I know you have trouble with that considering you only make statements on campus incidents when they could look bad for your image.