We Were Here First

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

CRAIG ASMUNDSONCraig 1965

SFU Kinesiology professor

Why did you choose to go to SFU?

It was a much easier commute for me coming up here. I couldn’t afford to go live at UBC on campus. And it was just an exciting place to be because it was a new and different university.

What is one of your earliest memories of SFU?

When I came here, I’d never even heard the word ‘marijuana.’ But by late ’66, ‘67, it was everywhere. When Louis Riel house opened, I lived there for a few years in ‘70, ’71. You could walk down the hall and almost get stoned from the smoke coming out of all the rooms.

What extracurricular activities were you involved in?

I was on the track team for about a year. I started a kinesiology students’ association. I was in the SFU Outdoor Club in the ‘60s, and in the ‘70s it was a big club. It had 400 members. So I was involved in that and became President for a couple of years. That was a great experience.

How did you feel about UBC back then?

I was irritated that so many people thought that SFU wasn’t a real university, that we were a fluff university, a pretend university. There was definitely an elitist feeling from a lot of people at UBC. The academic standards at SFU have been high from the very beginning.

How did your experience at SFU shift your path in life?

I changed majors three times in my first few years at SFU. A buddy of mine was in kinesiology and he said, try Kinesiology 142.  I took the course and thought that it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. (Asmundson currently teaches Kin 142 at SFU.)

What does SFU’s future hold?

I expect to see SFU continue to grow as the population of Metro Vancouver continues to grow. I expect there to be, hopefully, a lot more growth in SFU student numbers at the Surrey campus. I would like to see more programs get going out in Surrey, because that’s where the population growth is. Young people can’t afford to live on this side of the Fraser River.

 

TONY BUZANSFU_Student Annual_1965-66_Volume 1_Charter Edition.pdf

Inaugural Student Society president

Why did you choose to go to SFU?

I heard about Simon Fraser and what it was going to be: a new version of Athens. That was the dream of the architects and the academics. I very quickly came to the conclusion this was an ideal place for me to be next in my life.

What is one of your earliest memories of SFU?

When I came up the hill, it was as if I was the pilgrim discovering Shangri-La. It was magical. I was enchanted and immediately fell in love with it. Its architecture and its structure blended perfectly congruent with the purposes of the university.

What extracurricular activities were you involved in?

When I was there, I was beginning to study martial arts. I also became very involved in Mensa, the high IQ society, and that is where I began to investigate the meaning of intelligence. I also began to write poetry.

How did you feel about UBC back then?

The UBC engineers were like marauding gangs — samurais. Obviously, there were wonderful games to play with the newly beginning students and all the heckling [. . .] it was a wonderful opportunity.

How did your experience at SFU shift your path in life?

Simon Fraser affected my life a lot and it gave me more energy to reach my goals. [It] was the birthplace for the invention of mind maps, which is a pretty good birthplace. Mind maps are now spreading all over the world, [and are used by] 350 million people. A lot of that energy came from Simon Fraser.

What does SFU’s future hold?

I see it in the same vision I had when I first went up the mountain. It has a history. It has its DNA, and if that is constantly revisited and then encouraged, it can be wonderful. It can be a university based on its original dream of being a top university in the world, as a new Athens. A new Athens!

 

TRUDY DESJARDINE

Education student turned principal

Why did you choose to go to SFU?

I was raised in Burnaby. My dad was on the council at the time, and there was lots of hype around this fabulous, new university going up on top of the mountain, and there was all this hype in the papers. I thought it would be a great adventure.

What is one of your earliest memories of SFU?

The first semester up there, they offered ‘T’ for your final grades. ‘T’ meant, we’ll pass you, but please don’t take any more courses in this faculty. So that first semester I [got] three ‘T’s because I was just having too much fun!

What extracurricular activities were you involved in?

I ran for the student council the first year and didn’t win. But then I started the student guide service and worked as a guide. I was also secretary of the chess club for a time. But, the fellow I went with at the time was on the football and the basketball team, so I went to all the home or UBC games. Even though I didn’t play anything, I was involved in the sports.

How did you feel about UBC back then?

I only really thought about them when we were playing basketball or football against them. But other than that, there wasn’t a great rivalry for me.

How did your experience at SFU shift your path in life?

Well, [at the time] I could see myself [becoming] a translator at the United Nations, that’s why I started in languages. But my career in education was incredibly fulfilling and I have lots of happy memories from it and a real sense of satisfaction. I kind of knew that this would be profound for me. And it was.

What does SFU’s future hold?

I think it’s got a great future and it’s got a really great reputation. There are so many people there and that UniverCity. . . I think it would be exciting to live there because there is such an energy about the place.

 

BETSY GIBBONSBetsy Gibbons1964

Original ‘Madge Hogarth House’ girl

Why did you choose to go to SFU?

I went to Steveston High School, and although I had a big group of friends there, everybody was talking about sitting at the same library table at UBC, and I thought I’d like to meet some new people and do some new things.

What is one of your earliest memories of SFU?

[Living] in Madge Hogarth house [. . .] it was the only residence. [. . .] The rooms were concrete and the colour theme was bright orange and the most awful green. If you were out drinking and came home, this green was absolutely revolting.

What extracurricular activities were you involved in?

I was in the arts club. I think I was secretary/treasurer or vice president or whatever the title was. We put on a dance and [the band who played], I think, was Jefferson Airplane.

How did you feel about UBC back then?

Well, arch enemies of course. UBC Engineers held a couple of raids up at SFU. [Also] we had quite remarkable sports teams for a very young university. So we stood up well to UBC, an old established university.

How did your experience at SFU shift your path in life?

I think the professors were exceptionally good. They weren’t entitled or remote. They were active participants in university life and education. I think that was demonstrated in how they taught and how they inspired. So, later on in life, it has kept me open to innovation, to not go with the status quo.

What does SFU’s future hold?

It’s going to find itself more difficult, the bigger it gets, [to keep] that sense of community. Not that I want it to stay small, but keeping the sense of community is going to be harder the bigger you get, just like any large organizations. I think the challenge for SFU will be keeping its culture as it gets bigger and more and more successful.

 

RICK MCGRATHrick1a copy copy

Founding member of The Peak

Why did you choose to go to SFU?

I think SFU chose me. During 1965 the “instant university” on Burnaby Mountain was in the news quite frequently. It looked modern and sexy. And there was the attitude, too. UBC really didn’t care if you enrolled or not, and SFU was hungry for anyone with a pulse. But it was the architecture that attracted me.

What is one of your earliest memories of SFU?

I remember writing a poem about [SFU] and posting it on a bulletin board outside the library. Someone gave me 9/10 as I spelled ‘Fraser’ incorrectly.

What extracurricular activities were you involved in?

I was a founder of The Peak, and wrote for it for six or seven trimesters in a variety of roles. As for politics, I was a bit player in the SDU (Students for a Democratic University) and then an undergraduate and graduate student representative from 1969 to 1972.

How did you feel about UBC back then?

Distant. On our few comparative grounds — sports and student politics — we whooped their butts. Otherwise, it was like Canada vs. the USA.

How did your experience at SFU shift your path in life?

It didn’t shift it; it formed it. In many ways, I’m still typing away in the original Peak offices. I had no thoughts of any career when I entered SFU [and] the day I left I was hired as a newspaper reporter. Six years later I opened up an advertising agency. Twelve years later I was Vice President of Creative Services for RBC Dominion Securities in Toronto. Thanks, SFU!

What does SFU’s future hold?

Bigger and probably better. As for students, well, for me an obsession with grades over the social aspects of campus life seems to place higher education in the “near­-death experience” category. Arts degrees are easy to ace once you recognize how the structure of how SFU teaches can work to your advantage, resulting in high marks and lots of more important yak time.

 

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