After nearly four years of advocacy for more study spots and after-hours space options at the Surrey campus, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) Board of Directors and Simon Fraser University administrators have come to a consensus regarding this matter. Beginning this semester and onwards, the university will make it their priority to expand and improve space options for students at the Surrey campus, as well as installing new dedicated rooms for students to do group projects.

     Since summer 2017, the SFSS Board of Directors has been negotiating with SFU administrators to expand space options for students at the Surrey campus. SFU Surrey’s space options are becoming more unsustainable by the year as its student enrolments are exceeding its seating capacity. The majority of the Surrey campus’ classrooms are locked after-hours — as a result of this, a spacing crisis is happening at SFU Surrey.

     “Back in summer, the SFSS indicated a strong need for additional space options at the Surrey campus . . . We began exploring new study and social options for undergraduate students at SFU’s Surrey campus,” said SFSS president Hangue Kim in a press release. “With a petition and survey, we were able to identify the importance of expanding study, multi-purpose, and project work space [sic].”

     In light of the lack of space options for students at the Surrey campus, the SFSS submitted a report to SFU administrators that outlines the scope of the issue and how it affects students’ academic and social life. After reviewing the report extensively, the university has agreed to make some changes to its seating plan at the Surrey campus to better accommodate the students’ needs.

     As part of its agreement with the SFSS, the university will open nine new locations forstudents to study after hours, including new overhead lighting, additional chairs, as well as power outlets in these designated areas, according to the SFSS’s website. This process will take approximately one year to complete and the locations that are included in this renovation are Lounge 332, 312, 432, 412, and many others at the Surrey campus.

     In addition, students will be able to access classrooms after hours as study spaces for the remainder of the spring 2018 semester and onwards. Students will have access to all of the classrooms on Galleria 3 until midnight and all classrooms on Galleria 5 will be available upon request from SFU Surrey Security, according to the student society’s website.

     Moreover, two Galleria classrooms will be reserved for students to work on their group projects. The schedule for this semester’s dedicated Project Rooms can be found on the student society’s website. It is important to note that these reserved rooms will change every semester, therefore students should keep themselves informed of the changes in schedule at the beginning of every semester. SFU Recreational Services will also build new banks of lockers for students to store their projects, and the service will be free of charge, as part of the study space expansion.

     “With the feedback of the SFSS, we’re hoping to make even more improvements,” said Stephen Dooley, executive director of the SFU Surrey campus in a statement. “A few examples of this include working with the North Surrey Recreation Centre (directly across campus) to use their space for club activities and securing a strong student voice at the table for future SFU development projects.”

     SFU and the SFSS hope that this space expansion project will improve the students’ learning and social experience at SFU Surrey. Kim also noted that the university will be covering the costs of the renovation of the study space.

     The Peak also asked Kim if a similar space expansion will be seen at the Vancouver campus, to which Kim replied, “Vancouver is important to us. We will make decisions based on data and continuous feedback from our students.”

     Kim emphasized that this space expansion project was a collective effort between the SFSS Board of Directors as well as the support of student groups. “We made this project one of our top priorities this year based on the results of previous surveys, petitions, and consultations, which indicated a strong need for more student space at the Surrey Campus,” said Kim. “While we are excited for this new development, this is just the beginning and we believe that student involvement should be an important consideration in the decisions for space-related expansions for SFU. We look forward to ensuring that the needs of students are well-considered for future developments,” he concluded.