A Pride flag was discovered burned on a flagpole outside the University of BC’s Student Union Building Tuesday, Feb 9, 2016.
The rainbow flag had been raised the previous Friday as part of the opening ceremony for UBC’s OUTweek 2016. Local RCMP and campus security are investigating the burning.
“This is a suspected hate crime of intentional destruction to a very publicly important symbol for the LGBTQ+ community,” the UBC Pride Collective said in a statement.
The collective said the burning “has not made us feel safe on campus and affirms the continual need for more to be done in regards to support.”
Due to safety concerns, the collective cancelled its Feb 10 Fuck the Cis-tem march.
“We are incredibly disappointed and upset that this is what needs to happen to protect the safety of all of our members and supporters because of the external visibility of this event,” the statement said. “All other events will be going forward as planned.”
It goes on to say that the eight-day OUTweek event is about creating safer spaces, given the history of terrorization of LGBT spaces on campuses.
“As it stands currently we do not know who did this violent act, or why they did it,” the collective said.
Sara-Jane Finlay, UBC’s associate vice-president of equity and inclusion, tells Daily Xtra the burning is a violation of the university’s values of respect and inclusion.
“We condemn this incident as an act of hate,” she says.
She says the flag was raised Feb 5 for the start of OUTWeek.
The Alma Mater Society (AMS), UBC’s student government, also denounced the burning as an act of hate.
“The AMS wishes to extend support and solidarity to any member of the UBC community who is victimized or negatively affected by this hurtful act of violence,” AMS president Aaron Bailey said in a statement of support. “Acts such as these reaffirm the importance of events like OUTweek and the need to continue to engage critically with the university community on issues of inclusiveness and acceptance.”