By: Aaron Richardson
It has recently been discovered that the location of SFU’s Burnaby campus is not, as most believe, on top of Burnaby Mountain. What’s more, recent reports tell us that Burnaby Mountain doesn’t even exist! It turns out that Burnaby Mountain isn’t a mountain at all — instead, it is a tiny hill no more than 20 metres high.
The belief that Burnaby Hill is a mountain all results from a long ongoing social experiment started by the founders of SFU. Back in 1965 when SFU was created, the administration began spreading rumours that Burnaby Hill was not a hill, but rather, a mountain. The purpose of this experiment was to test whether social expectation could shift one’s perception of reality. The experiment was a rousing success, shifting the perceived realities of SFU students and Vancouverites for generations. Similar campaigns have been performed by many other notable companies. Perceived reality experiments are why Tim Hortons coffee is considered “good” rather than the garbage bitter water that it really is.
The motivations behind such an experiment on social expectations remain unknown. The most educated guess is that SFU founders hoped being on a mountain would be a novelty that no other university had. Students would gladly pay greater fees for a university that is in a semi-perpetual state of flood, with massive puddles forming in most major walkways. The next best guess is that SFU founders believed that being on top of a mountain would create both a feeling of isolation — which would inhibit students from forming long-term friendships — as well as a feeling of superiority coming from the fact that you literally look down on the peasants below you. They believed these factors, when combined, would result in SFU graduates being prepared for the long and depressing life that awaited them on the other side of graduation.
However, there are those among us who have broken through the perception created for us by the SFU founders. The first group is the stoners that wander Burnaby Mountain Park late at night. In their smoke-filled fugue, they open the doors of perception, and many have caught but the faintest glimpse of the true reality hidden from us. Unfortunately, these realizations come most often in the form of stereotypical stoner epiphanies. As these epiphanies often come a dime a dozen, they are rarely taken seriously. Although we all tend to laugh at and dismiss such stoners as Kyle (aged 24 and living in his mom’s basement), he glimpsed a truth many of us will never experience in all our lives when he looked out over the city lights with eyes red and mouth dry, and exclaimed, “Man . . . we’re all mountains.”
The other small group who has seen through this rift in reality are those who come from the far away lands of the prairies. As the illusion created by SFU founders comes from social expectation, those who are free from such social expectations and ignorant of Vancouverite propaganda remain unaffected. However, our prairie-born peers often don’t realize that SFU rests on merely a hill instead of a mountain. The bump that rises no more than 20 metres in the air is one of the highest points that any of them have ever seen, let alone been atop. When they hear the glory of the mountains in the far-off land of BC, this tiny bump is even greater than what they could have ever imagined.