It can be daunting coming to a new school. Making new friends, getting good grades, and finding a balance between work and personal life are just some of the struggles faced by students. Whether you’re new to SFU or just hoping to learn something new about the campus, I’m here to walk you through SFU Burnaby.
Maggie Benston Centre (MBC)
MBC is home to most of our student services. Registrar and Information Services can be found on the 3000 level (located in the mezzanine at the Surrey campus and in the main lobby at Harbour Centre). Here students can make appointments with advisors (both academic and financial).
The next floor down is the bookstore, the Peak office, and the offices for the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS). The SFSS is our student government here on campus. They advocate on our behalf for things like more space for students on campus, the U-Pass, and the health and dental plan. Speaking of the health and dental plan, their office is also on this floor. The health and dental plan is flexible, so students who have extended health benefits can opt out of services they don’t need. You can also choose different levels of coverage depending on your needs and budget. Head to their office if you have any questions about how to change your plan.
The 1000 level of MBC is home to the Centre for Students with Disabilities. This office can help students with either temporary or permanent accessibility issues find solutions so that they can still attend classes. This can include providing note-takers or alternative spaces for students to write exams.
Down the hall from that is International Services for Students. For international students, this is a great resource for you to ask questions and for help or support in adjusting to living so far from home. For all students, this is the office to go to if you want to travel while getting your degree. They have information on both exchanges and field schools.
Next door to that is the Work Integrated Learning office, home of the co-operative education program. Co-op is a great way to gain experience in your field before you graduate. It’s also a good way to make some cash. Students pay a small fee to join the co-op program and gain access to a list of different opportunities locally, nationally, and sometimes internationally.
On the bottom floor, or 0000 level, you’ll find Career, Health and Counselling, and Parking Services.
Career Services can help you with your resume, interview skills, and networking skills. They can also lead you through career exploration in which, through asking questions about your values and skills, they will help you brainstorm career possibilities that not only you would like but you’d be really good at.
Health and Counselling is a fully working medical clinic right here on campus. They can act as your family doctor during your degree and even have flu shots during flu season. They also provide a wide range of counselling services. The Vancouver campus offers all these features while SFU Surrey only offers counselling.
Finally, Parking Services is where you would go to buy a semesterly parking pass or pay a parking ticket.
If you ever have any questions about where a service is, or which one you should go to, you can head to Student Central (on the top floor, right beside the main entrance). The student information assistants behind the front desk know everything about this campus and are always happy to help.
Convocation Mall (Convo Mall)
The big open space between MBC and the library is called Convo Mall. Twice a year convocation happens in the space, but during the rest of the year it hosts some pretty great events.
An important one coming up soon is Clubs Days. Almost every club on campus will come and set up a table at least once during the four-day event. You can walk around, talk to people, and try and find a group to join. If you want to make friends at SFU, joining a club is the easiest way to make that happen. And, if you don’t see a club you want to join, you only need 10 signatures to start a new one.
The Rotunda is a great group study space. The big tables, heated floors, and proximity to Starbucks makes it the perfect winter study spot. It’s also home to several social justice groups on campus.
If you’re interested in environmental justice (as well as other social justice initiatives), the Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (known as SFPIRG) is the place for you. They conduct research on different services and programs run by the university and make recommendations on how they can be improved as well as many other great projects.
The Women’s Centre provides a great study space for all genders as well as a 24-hour safe space lounge for self-identified women only. The centre also offers lots of resources such as snacks, books, tampons and pads, supplies for safe sex, and crisis support.
Out on Campus, our LGBATQ+ group, also provides a safe space for all as well as resources like educational material and safe-sex supplies. They also host workshops, provide guides for trans and gender diverse SFU community members, and are currently working on a project to preserve queer history.
One floor down is the campus radio station CJSF. If you’re interested in radio or music, I highly recommend volunteering. You might even be able to start your own radio show!
Lorne Davies Complex (the Gym)
The gym is a great place to get in shape. Both the pool and the fitness centre are included in your tuition and your student ID card acts as your membership card. SFU Clan games are free for students and make a great night out!
SFU Recreation offers a wide range of teams, clubs, intramural, and classes. Some of the classes have fees but there’s a free trial week every semester so you can try the class before you pay. Check out the full schedule for classes and other programs on their website.
W.A.C. Bennett Library
The library has seven floors and over two million different resources both online and in print. To help students navigate all those sources, the library has a research help desk on the main floor as well as librarian help available in person, by phone, and online. There are even librarians for specific departments to help with really in-depth research.
Speaking of research papers, the library is also home to the Student Learning Commons. Here, students can get help with every stage of writing papers. They have workshops, consultations (both in person and online), and helpful handouts. They can also help you with study skills and time management.
The library also features lots of study space at different volumes (loud to silent), the largest computer lab on campus, and equipment rentals like laptops and phone chargers. All these services are available at the other campus libraries as well (the Surrey campus library has a games room!).
It can be hard finding your way around campus at first. If you haven’t done it already, do yourself a favour and download the SFU app. It has a room finder feature that will help you find the classroom you’re looking for on all three campuses.
Be familiar with important deadlines:
- Last day to add, swap, or change classes is September 11.
- Last day to drop classes and get a full refund is also September 11.
- Tuition is due September 18.
- The change of coverage period (the time you can make changes to or opt of the health and dental plan) is from September 1–18.
If you miss these deadlines, bad things can happen. Check for other important deadlines online.
Use things like ratemyprofessors.com and course descriptions or outlines to help plan your classes, but take them with a grain of salt. If you like a course, take it. Some of the best classes I’ve taken had terrible ratings, but I loved them.
Most importantly, if all else fails, do what’s best for you. It’s your degree, it’s your life, so make sure you enjoy it.