By: Elise Burgert, “Life” Sciences Experimenter


Throughout history, scientific consensus has been that the organisms occupying Simon Fraser University, a concrete behemoth sitting atop Burnaby Mountain, were homo sapiens. Recent evidence, however, has unveiled shocking findings. Not only are they incorrectly classified, but the students of SFU do not even meet the definition of living organisms. This story will discuss the illuminating rationale behind this extraordinary declassification: the journey through which scientists have proven that sometimes even our most fundamental assumptions are, in fact, flawed.

      One crucial feature of life is that an organism must be responsive to their environment when presented with stimuli. To determine whether SFU students were responsive to their environment, our researchers examined the ecosystem of the ‘145 bus’ on a Monday morning. This was an ideal place to study the behaviour of SFU students, as they congregate in extremely dense groups in the ‘145 bus’ ecosystem.

      Our researchers altered the ecosystem to attempt to elicit a response in the students, by announcing over the bus speaker that a zombie apocalypse had begun and the passengers would be converted to the undead faction upon their arrival at SFU Transportation Centre Bay 3. However, of the 150 students studied, the behaviour of not a single student changed. 90% of the SFU students continued to simultaneously sleep while vaguely scrolling through Instagram or Reddit. The other 10% continued frantically cramming an entire textbook in the 20-minute journey. This suggests that SFU students are completely unresponsive even to a massive threat to their alleged status as mortal beings.

     It is worth noting a possible error in this experiment, being that the students studied were either listening to music (38%) or pretending to listen to music to avoid social interaction of any sort (62%), perhaps distracting them from the zombie threat. However, the researchers say this is not an error, but a causal factor that further supports their hypothesis.

     A second feature of life is that an organism must be able to grow and change. Our researchers thought this requisite would be easily met by the SFU students, but they were wildly wrong. Given that SFU students are allegedly pursuing the enhancement of their cognitive abilities through education, it was hypothesized that over the course of one semester, the students would have increased their understanding of the subject studied.

     Our researchers followed the students enrolled in a microbiology class. Originally, the findings were hopeful: they measured the students’ knowledge four months into the semester by analyzing the marks that students received on their final exams, and determined that students knew considerably more about obscure terminology and vague biological processes on their final exams than they did before starting the course.

     However, this inference was devastatingly falsified when a sample of students were polled about the same subject the day after their final exam. Once the final exam was over, without exception these university microbiology students had forgotten literally every definition and biochemical reaction they had learned before the final exam. A shocking 84% could not even name the function of the mitochondria, suggesting that the course had not only failed to increase cognitive understanding, but had actually caused the destruction knowledge they had previously known since grade nine.

     It is clear SFU students cannot be classified as alive. What, then, are they? That is a question for the natural sciences to answer in the coming years. Perhaps the answer lies in the insightful new hypothesis that, just as fire does nothing but consume biomass and leave a trail of destruction, SFU students do nothing but consume coffee and leave a trail of tears.