The Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) announced that the Iron Ring Ceremony will no longer be run by Camp 5, due to “sexist” remarks from the camp in a recent briefing and in past years.
In an open letter published on Wednesday, February 26, EUS Interim President Katherine Westerlund wrote that the Corporation of the Seven Wardens has decided the ceremony will now be run by its Chief Warden Leonard Shara, who will “[explain] the situation for this year, [apologize] to all who have been hurt by disparaging comments, and [explain] the plans for changes within Camp 5.” The time and location and all other logistical details for the ceremony will remain the same.
The Camp 5 executives will not be speaking at the ceremony.
This change follows an Iron Ring Ceremony briefing on February 12, in which many students were upset over comments made by Camp 5 executives running the briefing. The commentary included a joke about women borrowing their boyfriends’ iron rings and women liking shiny rings.
“It has been a tumultuous few weeks behind the scenes, with many individuals working very hard to ascertain the events leading up to the article published in Ubyssey last week, to repair the damage done, and to ensure that this shall never recur,” wrote Shara in a February 25 letter that was included as an attachment in the EUS’s open letter.
The Corporation of the Seven Wardens has also created a new task force to establish “a Code of Conduct to ensure that the Camp maintains and leads the way with respectful and positive relations with all of the parties concerned.”
The task force will also work to “ensure an orderly succession of Camp 5 personnel.” Representatives of UBC, BCIT, SFU, EUS and Engineers and Geoscientists BC (EGBC) have been invited to participate.
Westerlund said that there should be deliverables from the task force in around June or July, with the possibility of change for next year’s ceremony.
“I’m not foolish enough to think that [these systemic problems are] going to be resolved over the next three months,” she said in an interview with The Ubyssey.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do and this is by no means the be-all and end-all solution for this … [but] it's definitely a very positive development.”
Juliana Lee, a graduating mechanical engineering student, said she feels “cautiously optimistic” about the new changes.
“We just want to feel like we belong,” Lee said. “Hopefully we can all have an Iron Ring Ceremony where nobody is insulted.”
Westerlund decided to take drastic action on this after seeing this happen year after year.
“I’ve seen the hurt that this has caused in our community and I just decided that this was enough and I was the person who was in this position, I was able to effect this change. That was something I was willing to stand up for,” Westerlund said, noting that she’s building on the work done by previous EUS executives to address this problem.
“It’s my iron ring this year,” Westerlund said. “It’s my ceremony that I’ll be going to. I didn't want to have to walk into that room with my friends and go through something like that.”
This article has been updated to reflect that the Corporation of the Seven Wardens removed the Camp 5 ceremony presenters, not the EUS.