A video posted on SFU’s YouTube page and distributed by SFU Facilities Services has been removed following negative reactions from faculty members and students.
The video, originally released in 2014, promotes National Sweater Day, a yearly observation meant to promote energy conservation. It depicts a casual exchange between a female instructor and a male student. Though the video is no longer available on YouTube, The Peak was able to retrieve a copy, which can be viewed below:
In an entry on her personal blog, Department of History faculty member Elise Chenier criticized the video at length: “When the very place you work promotes the kind of sexism that your intellectual work seeks to contest and ultimately, destroy, you feel like you are being eaten from the inside out. There was once a time when I would have seen the video is simply outdated, idiotic, and yes, offensive, but now I see it much differently.
“Now I feel the harm it does, and not just to Miss Pinkham, but also to her male student who is encouraged to relate to half the population on such a limited level, and who himself then is defined by his heterosexual desire for women.”
Chenier also claimed that “the collective outrage of female faculty resulted in the video being removed from the SFU website.”
“There was once a time when I would have seen the video is simply outdated, idiotic, and yes, offensive, but now I see it much differently.”
Many took to Twitter to express their outrage at the videos, including SFU faculty members Esther Verheyen, Jeremy Snyder, and Kevin Morse. Several of these tweets are included below:
— roxanne panchasi (@rpanchasi) February 3, 2016
— Esther Verheyen (@EstherVerheyen) February 3, 2016
— Gabriel Larivière (@gabrielariviere) February 3, 2016
— Jeremy Snyder (@jeremycsnyder) February 3, 2016
Really tasteful video SFU… I'm sure this is what all female faculty members aspire to. https://t.co/6TNImf6XBz
— Kevin Morse (@Kevin_J_Morse) February 3, 2016
SFU mass email this morn contains a vid for National Sweater day. Includes a female prof. putting on a pink sweater she is then 'noticed'…
— A.F. (@arifalbo) February 3, 2016
by a male student "Nice sweater Prof. X" prof. blushes: "thanks" Tag line reads "Saving natural gas can be sexy". Wtf SFU #soinappropriate
— A.F. (@arifalbo) February 3, 2016
When the video was first released in 2014, it did not receive the same negative feedback on Twitter, with one commenter referring to it as “clever.” However, The Peak was unable to find any positive comments towards the video from this year.
SFU has since sent several apologies via their public Twitter account and deleted the video from their website and YouTube account.
Joanne Curry, Vice President External Relations, sent an email via University Communications apologizing for the video.
“As the video was produced by an external vendor, I had not seen it. When I did watch it, I immediately agreed with the feedback we had received that the video is inappropriate, sexist, and not in keeping with our equity commitment,” Curry wrote. “We took steps to remove the video as quickly as possible and have followed up with the group who produced and distributed the video to ensure it will no longer be used.”
Curry detailed plans to review University Communications’ policy on reposting videos and other content, noting that “future requests to share information by email to the SFU community will be vetted by leaders within University Communication” and “staff of the department responsible for this video will be required to undergo appropriate training to ensure an equitable and safe work environment for everyone in the SFU community.”
An official statement posted on SFU’s website, also penned by Curry, echoed many of her statements from her email, adding, “we plan to investigate how this video was posted and plan to put into place additional procedures to ensure that this will not happen again in the future.
“We appreciate your patience in this matter.”