It was a dreary, drizzling day, but ground has been broken for the construction of the new Student Union Building, and the next chapter of Build SFU begins.
With almost the entirety of the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) present, as well as SFU President Andrew Petter, the groundbreaking was attended by only a handful of those who brought it forward, with a much larger celebration being planned for the fall.
After speeches from Elder Margaret George, Petter, and VP University Relations for the SFSS Arr Farah, the “groundbreaking” took place. It was more of a ceremonial event, as Farah and Petter donned hard hats and moved a shovelful of dirt each from a pile to underneath a bulldozer.
The event took place where the new building will exist by its projected fall 2018 opening, just outside the Maggie Benston Centre.
Despite the dreary weather — which reflected a “typical SFU day,” according to master of ceremonies Larissa Chen — there was a buzz of excitement in the air from those in attendance.
“It’s very exciting,” said Petter. “I know how hard the Student Society has worked over a number of years to get us to this point. But I also know it wouldn’t have happened without the support of the general student body over a number of years.
“I think it speaks volumes to the kind of students we have at SFU, how they’re really committed to not only their own education but to the future of students who will be here in years ahead.”
While this project has been in motion since 2012 with many SFSS members involved, it was Farah — only one month into his term as VP University Relations — representing the SFSS and by extension all students, as he shovelled the dirt.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “It feels great. I remember being part of [student unions] running around campus and there being no space for us, so this solves this problem so I’m just really proud to be here.”
He admitted, though, that this isn’t exactly how he pictured the moment.
“I thought it was going to be sunny and beautiful, but this is BC. It rains a lot,” he laughed. “I’m happy that it happened anyway.”
With the groundbreaking underway, there was no time for all involved parties to stop and congratulate themselves. It’s one thing to hold a ceremony for starting the project, but it’s another to get the building finished.
“I think it’s a different kind of push,” acknowledged Petter. “Now it’s a matter of getting the building built and making sure it meets all the requirement[s] and that’s going to require some effort.
“It won’t be easy, but I think it’s going to go as smoothly as a project of this kind can.”