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Jon Driver’s insensitive pipeline joke demonstrates the problem with populating administrative positions with white-only perspectives
August 3, 2020
During SFU’s July 6 Senate meeting, Vice-President, Academic and Provost pro tem Jonathan Driver made an inappropriate remark as part of the apparent “roasting” tradition for President Andrew Petter’s last term at SFU. Driver joked that now would be the time for some “light-heartedness,” and read a series of fake questions that would be asked at the next senate meeting — one of which questioned if SFU would build a pipeline through Convocation Mall. The obvious sarcasm was meant as a joke, but left discomfort and disappointment with concerned students.
Student groups like the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) and Graduate Student Society (GSS) have organised against the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) project due to safety concerns, environmental hazards, and the threat to Indigenous sovereignty. The SFSS has also recently reaffirmed its opposition to the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion. In the past, President Petter has publicly stated that the risks to students’ safety posed by the expansion are “unacceptable,” “significant and deeply concerning.” The university later sent a letter to the federal government expressing its objection to the project. So why are decision-makers such as Driver, who seem to understand the risks posed by the pipeline, making jokes that effectively minimize the severity of the problem?