UBC professor criticized for questioning why frat boys were allowed to lay wreaths at ceremony
VANCOUVER - A tweet by a UBC instructor about the school's Remembrance Day ceremony triggered a large amount of backlash online.
Economics instructor Marina Adshade took to Twitter to ask UBC president Santa Ono why fraternity members were allowed to lay wreaths at the school's Remembrance Day ceremony.
"@ubcprez wondering why frat boys are laying wreaths at the Remberance [sic] Day Ceremony at UBC. Surely there are other more representative groups on campus to play this role?" Adshade asked.
Online reaction to her statement came in almost immediately, with many pointing out her tweet was posted at 11:22 a.m., which would have been during the school's ceremony.
"99 men of UBC's Beta Theta Pi Chapter served in World War II. Nine of those young men never returned," tweeted a user with the handle Aaron604. "Today, fraternity members lay wreaths at UBC's ceremony to remember their brothers and the many veterans that serve this country."
Twitter user davisbaynton wrote, "Three of my four grandparents served for Canada in WW2 but because I'm in a fraternity I am not a fair 'representative' of the spirit of Remembrance Day? Trying to isolate who is most worthy of paying their respects is bigotry, the focus should be on the remembrance and respect in general."
Adshade declined an interview with CTV News citing concerns for her safety, saying she's been sent threatening messages. In an emailed statement to CTV News, she defended her comments.
"I stand by what I said. UBC prides itself on being an inclusive and diverse campus. That was not reflected today by the student representation at the ceremony today. This is something that can, and should be addressed, in future years," she said.
When asked why fraternity members would be unrepresentative, Adshade said the wreaths laid by student organizations should be open and inclusive.
"The fraternities are antithetical to those ideals and should not be given a place of privileged at any UBC functions," she said. "I think that when wreaths laid by student organization they should be student organizations that are open and inclusive."
In an emailed statement to CTV News, the UBC Interfraternity Council said it was "disappointed" when Adshade's tweet was brought to their attention.
"While the IFC respects Adshade's right to her opinions, we feel that we must speak up for our community," the statement said. "The fraternity community has shared a long and storied history of service to our country. Countless fraternity members have served and many lost their lives while fighting for our freedom in both World Wars. Some members continue to serve our country today."
Fellow faculty member, Charles Menzies said he agrees with Adshade, and went further to say fraternities should not be part of UBC events.
"We have a specific history happening on campus with the fraternities' lack of paying attention to the sexual assault policies on campus," said Menzies.
"Given the way in which the organizations themselves are implicated in an ongoing systemic process, that's a problem."
He was not at the UBC Remembrance Day ceremony and could not say whether anyone else lay wreaths other than the fraternity members, but said he understood they "were presenting explicitly as fraternities."
Twitter user JChiasson posted that he laid a wreath at the ceremony and said, "I would like to highlight the diverse group of lovely people from other organizations laying down wreaths alongside me."
When asked whether Menzies would have the same opinion if it had been sorority members laying wreaths, he said yes.
"I think the sororities have a similar problem."
He added that "as faculty members we have academic freedom to express our opinions and perspectives."
CTV News has reached out to UBC media relations but has not received a response.