No one at SFU is prepared for an earthquake


How many of you remember fire drills in elementary and secondary school? I know I went through a couple per year. As kids, we used to think they were great — we had no class and became caught up in the excitement of that crazy loud bell. As  adults, people don’t appreciate fire drills and look for any opportunity to avoid them. My workplace, however, doesn’t avoid the fire drill and actively embraces them. Working at a major tourist attraction, you would hope that the staff know how to safely evacuate people in the case of a fire. 

Mid-October, my work introduced something new: an earthquake drill. We live in a city where the conversation around quakes has gone from ‘if’ to ‘when,’ and yet I will fully admit I didn’t really know what to do if one were to hit. Until that drill, I thought standing in a door frame was ‘what you were meant to do.’

Don’t do that, by the way, it’s apparently really stupid; one of the many things you think you know but actually don’t. Oh, common sense, you’re so fun.

My earthquake drill was facilitated by an event called Shake Out BC. It’s like Earth Day in the sense that you are encouraged to participate, yet it is essentially voluntary. I was at work downtown when the “shake out” occurred, and I could actually hear alarms ring out for a short time around the city.

Did you all know that SFU was part of the drill as well? Neither did I. That’s because no one I know on campus that day heard any alarms. I checked the SFU website, and there were only three places between all of the campuses where there was a drill: Burnaby campus’ Saywell Hall Atrium, the WAC Bennett Library, and the Vancouver Harbour Centre Concourse.

It got me thinking: what is going to happen when an earthquake does hit? How many of us know that it’s the safest to get under a table or bench and hold on? I understand that organising a drill across a huge university can be a royal pain, yet as Shake Out BC showed, a drill can be as simple as a one-minute demonstration at 10:15 a.m.

Everyone who is in class is either packing their bags and ignoring the prof’s final sentences, or getting ready for a break. Is it really that difficult to inform all the profs and TAs and to put a few posters up?

I’m not saying we should have all evacuated the school like we did in grade three. Simply that if I were in one of the C-9000 classrooms, I’d want to know what the heck we are meant to do in the case of a quake — especially since I’m too tall to properly fit under the seats. A simple drill that could very well save lives shouldn’t be something a school encourages you to volunteer to practice, but something that you are voluntold.


  1. hi, you are having continuous earth quakes due to the black object in front of the sun , seen on live webcams from central and south mexico. You can see it uploaded on you tube, sasa lucic is posting all uptodate stuff. It might be there upto 3 years disturbing earth.