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Student union aims to uphold values while making Winter Games available to students

Photo by Mico Mazza

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) will be sure to protect its “safe space” for students while looking into the possibility of live-streaming the 22nd Winter Olympics next semester.

The Olympics will take place Feb. 7–23 in Sochi, Russia, but due to Russia’s anti-gay law, several countries have boycotted the games. Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned what he calls “non-traditional sexual relationships,” and this has caused international outrage.

“We want to make sure that the way in which we engage in the Olympics isn’t breaking or contradictory to the values of the student federation,” said Nicole Desnoyers, vp equity for the SFUO. “Our values state creating a safer space for students, including our queer and LGBTQ+ students.”

Pat Marquis, vp social for the SFUO, said there is a strong demand from students to watch the games on campus.

“There’s this giant demand to watch the Olympics and there also is the boycotting, which is also very valid,” Marquis said. “It was a tough decision on my end to find a balance between that. I think the best way would be to please both sides, to show the Olympics and have tabling and campaigning.”

Marquis said plans to stream the Olympics are in the early stages and nothing is finalized, but did recognize that the SFUO will not continue if there is backlash from the student community. However, he said a lot of students who want to watch the games either do not have access to cable or do not have a television set, and showing the sporting event on campus would help solve the issue.

Desnoyers said the SFUO is waiting to see what the LGBTQ+ community in Russia is asking for in terms of support and what other student unions will do about the issue.

“Is it a boycott?” she asked. “Is it doing more promotion on safer spaces or having an analysis that goes hand in hand with the Olympics? Or what does that look like?”

Desnoyers said the plans for live-streaming should be finalized in the coming weeks.