Written by Maxwell Gawlick, Peak Associate
I took me over three months to book a room through the SFSS. When I finally managed it, it was only barely worth it.
If you want to book a room for a study group one week, it’s easy enough. You have to head to the SFU Library’s “Book a study room” page, choose your campus, select a time slot, and enter a name for the group. Done!
However, there are plenty of drawbacks. Each time slot is limited to a two-hour maximum. You can’t book more than two weeks in advance. The rooms themselves close once the library or campus closes, so if your group runs late or campuses close unexpectedly — for example, with the snow we had a few weeks ago — your group is also cancelled.
I found that, for an evening gaming group, these drawbacks make the rooms impractical. I’m sure we’re not the only kind of student group that faces that impracticality.
After digging, I learned I could book a room through a club. I was told of Alternate Reality Club (ARC) and figured their gaming focus would be the best fit for my group. I had to wait until January for the SFSS to re-open and assess the request. Then, I didn’t hear back for about two weeks. Even then, it was only because I reached out to the ARC executives, who said they apparently were having trouble discussing things with the SFSS.
I later learned there was some miscommunication and telephone-tag between the SFSS and the ARC executives. Though I can’t blame this entirely on the SFSS, they were certainly partially responsible. The lack of proper communication from their corner, regarding a service that they offer students, was disappointing.
As January and February passed by, I still hadn’t received a definitive answer. I gave up and decided to try and book the room myself. I went to the Student Services Centre in Maggie Benston Centre (MBC) and was thoroughly disappointed. The rooms they offered me were the conference rooms in MBC behind Student Services. When I booked one of those, the SFSS forgot to send me email confirmation and I wasn’t sure if the room was even mine to use. Once again: miscommunication.
I’m happy to finally have a room, but it is not without its problems. There are only four of them, and the divider between the third and fourth is damaged, so there are really only three. The rooms are big and echoey, and there is no soundproofing, so noise from outside or from groups next door has proven to be too loud for my group to be able to speak at a reasonable volume. I can’t book more than three weeks in advance, and so I’m often forced to relocate our group’s activities anyway. Each time I do renew my booking, I have to re-submit all my paperwork.
I also had to drop a $60 security deposit which the SFSS won’t return until I no longer need the room. They also threaten to keep it if I forget to push the tables and chairs back into alignment or open the blinds. Otherwise, I could book rooms as if I weren’t a student or a club or a member of SFU, at exorbitant rates. The cheapest room I could find on Vancouver campus was a seminar room that went for $125 per hour, or $165 per day. As a poor student, these sorts of costs don’t work for me.
After pressing a little bit, I discovered there were dozens of unused rooms in the AQ and other buildings, as well as on other campuses, that can only be reserved by executives of clubs — hence why I was advised to go through them in the first place.
I was tempted to start my own club just to get a decent room. . . but there were holes in that plan. The group must have a minimum of ten members to start, which mine simply does not. I need to name a minimum of two executives to manage the group. I also can’t overlap with another club, as my request is reviewed by the SFSS — in my case, I figured I’d look too similar to ARC or other groups.
Plus, there seemed to be no end to the paperwork required; the SFU Clubs page says I need to submit a “new club proposal” and “include information such as Club Name, Club Mandate, Semester Vision, Proposed Activities, and indicate if there are any connections to third parties.” I’ll then have to book a “club intake meeting” if my request isn’t denied outright, where I have to successfully pitch my club, and then perhaps sit through an information session where I learn how to run my club. If I’m successful, the members have to individually confirm all the above info. So even if I met the initial requirements, it seems like an awful amount of work just to book a room.
I’m not the only person with these problems. For the two months we played in the Rotunda, we did so across from another group who were also unable to get a room.
SFU makes it unreasonably difficult to book a room as a student. You can’t get decent rooms, or book a room on a regular basis, unless you are a club executive. You’re constantly at risk of losing your room to another group, or not being able to hear yourself think when that group instead takes the room next to you.
Not only should SFU streamline the process to make it easier and more accessible to students, they should also work on their communication. Information about rooms needs to be readily available and students don’t have to go back and forth for a simple answer or confirmation.