UBC's Pride Collective to carry on with OUTweek despite Pride flag burning

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      LGBT students at UBC have been shaken by a Pride flag found burnt on campus but remain undeterred.

      In a conference call, members of the UBC Pride Collective told the Georgia Straight that UBC Equity and Inclusion discovered the burnt remains of the rainbow flag on flagpole today (February 9) and reported the incident to the RCMP. The flag was raised during the opening ceremony of UBC's OUTweek on February 5.

      According to a statement issued by the university, the flag, on a flagpole located between the old Student Union Building and Brock Hall, was burned sometime during the Family Day weekend. Campus security and UBC RCMP are conducting an investigation.

      The statement added that "UBC condemns this incident as an act of hate and in contravention of the values of equity, inclusion and respect deeply held by the university community." 

      The Pride Collective posted a statement on their Facebook page today expressing their concerns for the safety of students, and also cancelled the Fuck the Cis-tem March scheduled for February 10. The march was intended to raise awareness of the need for greater safety and accessibility on campus for LGBT students.

      "We're just worried about repeat incidences or if this is not a one-time occurrence," coordinator Rachel Garrett said by phone.

      Consequently, coordinator Yulanda Lui said on the line that they are implementing extra safety protocols for the remainder of OUTweek events. 

      Garrett added that although emotions have been running high, they are in talks to possibly re-raise the flag at some point later in the year.

      However, Lui explained that they're primarily focussing on supporting one another right now. "It's been a hard time for a lot of us."

      All other OUTweek events will carry on as planned, including an art and performance night, a dance, and a closing discussion on February 12.

      Coordinator Elliott Cordingley said that if any UBC students in need of support can access UBC Counselling Services, peer support through the Pride Collective, or even contact Qmunity, B.C.'s queer resource centre, which also offers counselling. The AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre has also offered to help students feeling unsafe or affected.

      Cordingley said that they have been encouraged by a show of solidarity from other community and UBC groups.

      Lui added that the act serves to reinforce their mission.

      "This is a really difficult time for a lot of us but we see this as a big reason why we do the work that we do and the importance of creating safer spaces for LGBTQ students on campus, and this is just part of the motivation we have."

      Garrett said that if anyone has any details about the flag burning, they should contact AMS Security, the RCMP, or the Pride Collective at UBC.

      Update (February 10): Mayor Gregor Robertson has requested the Pride flag be flown at Vancouver City Hall in a show of solidarity.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at twitter.com/cinecraig. You can also follow the Straight's LGBT coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/StraightLGBT or on Facebook.