SFU becomes wildlife reserve

Among the new services offered are safaris where tourists can come glimpse students in the wild

Linda Shu / The Peak

By: Alex Bloom

In a recent bid to increase revenue, SFU has decided to transition into a wildlife reserve. Now called Simon Fraser Shelter for Endangered Students (SFSES), this new status allows the institution to save money on taxes due to its classification as a non-profit organization dedicated to “preserving the millennial population.” We spoke with sitting SFSS VP of student life Hunter MacTavish, an early proponent of the changes, about the realities of the new campus.

     “I’ll be honest, this was partly a cost-saving measure, but it has greatly increased the student population,” says MacTavish. “Not only did it allow us to do away with frivolous expenditures like classrooms and lecturers, it opened up new opportunities for profit.” What MacTavish is referring to is the second phase of the SFSES project, which offers safaris where tourists can come see the students in their natural habitat — from the safety of a Jeep, of course — and explore the wonders of beautiful British Columbia.

     “The safaris have been a fantastic addition to our revenue stream, and I can happily say we’re in the black! Naturally, the students still pay tuition, but in exchange they get a home for life in the park,” explains MacTavish. According to SFSES records, the student population has been skyrocketing since it became an officially recognized wildlife reserve. This new surge in enrolment numbers is likely due, in part, to the fact that students are not allowed to leave the grounds.

     “We had to make some budget cuts to fund the demolition of the student residences, the building of their new habitats, and the purchasing of Jeeps for visitors to tour the park — as well as the electrified fence that surrounds it. There have been some assets — er, students, who have escaped over the fences, but my parents didn’t name me Hunter for nothing . . .”

     The greatest attractions the park has to offer, however, are the safari packages. Starting at $2,400 per person, the “freshman” package grants visitors one night of lodgings in the Maggie Benston camp, and a day’s Jeep tour of the AQ. The “double major” package comes in at $5,500, and includes a three-night stay in the sixth floor AQ VIP tower, Jeep tours, an authentic meal in the Dining Hall, and access to all the campus walking trails (listed below). It is possible to come into contact with students on the trails. The park advises that you exercise caution, and that you do not feed the students as they will not be able to survive in the wild if they become accustomed to human contact. And remember, never stray from the path.

A safari jeep tours the Caffeine Circuit.
(Cora Fu / The Peak)









     Beercan lookout: Created as a result of the students’ appetite for beer, this trail leads you up the winding path to the summit of the Empty Mountain — which the engineering students constructed using a combination of beer cans, ping-pong balls, and red plastic cups cemented with their dung. Offering majestic views of the entire wildlife reserve, this trail is a crowd favourite.

     Graffiti Walk: A guided tour through the student bathrooms, where dozens of pieces of graffiti art can be seen. Some experts have posited that this is a sign of intelligence in the students, but the theory has been dismissed as wishful thinking. Favourite examples include the drunk octopus, the wall of phalluses, and the flame war.

     The Caffeine Circuit: Following the the main driveable route in the AQ through to the West Mall Centre, this is a leisurely walk for beginner hikers. The trail passes all the coffee shops on campus, which are watering holes for students. It is best to walk this trail in the later part of morning so you can observe the change in student behaviour as they have their first coffee of the day. It is best not to go any earlier, to avoid encountering too many students before they have had any caffeine, as they can become aggressive.

     Raccoons’ Refuge: More of a spelunking expedition than a hike, this trail takes you through the racoon warrens in the ceiling of the West Mall Centre. This trail is not recommended for beginners as it can be physically challenging at times, and the racoons have been known to become quite aggressive when guests enter their lair. This hike is perfect for thrill seekers, and explorers alike. (Tetanus shot sold separately.) Rumour has it that some particularly feral students have been accepted into the raccoon nest.