SFU gives me hope

Yes, yes, yes, it’s fun to make fun of our school — but here are some highlights

Image courtesy of the REMI Network

By: Alex Bloom, K.A.U., Gabrielle McLaren, and Nathaniel Tok 

Editor’s note: If you were lurking around on the internet a long, long time ago, you might have come across a site called “Gives me hope,” filled with cute little reader-submitted stories about the uplifting things human beings do for one another. The site is long gone, but here’s a compilation of warm and fuzzy moments from SFU to help you through finals.


The singing professor

If you think Canadian history is boring, then you clearly haven’t taken any courses taught by professor Mark Leier. Not only does he incorporate creative writing assignments into his history classes, but he sings! Leier brings songs from the eras he teaches about to life with the help of his trusty banjo, ensuring that each lecture is a lively time.

The reason why his teaching style makes me so happy is that so many people complain that history isn’t interesting to them; Leier makes history fun. By hearing songs from the times you are learning about, and writing stories or letters set in those periods, you get to immerse yourself in history in a way that you seldom get to do at university.

It is experiences like these that remind us that history isn’t just about words on a page. It is about studying the ways that people have lived, and how the world came to be the way it is today.

– AB


The turtle

I had already pulled myself through two exams that week before finishing a history paper due at 8:30 a.m. on a Thursday. Yikes. At the very end of that class, our teacher announced that our very sweet and reserved TA had an announcement to make. She takes to the stage and announces that to celebrate our papers being handed in, she brought her turtle to work.

I promise this is real. SFU History tweeted about it! I have class during her office hours, but I managed to sneak by her office a little later and was not disappointed. The turtle, whose name is Jumoka, napped in a traveling case on her way in from Surrey but was now thriving and walking up and down the history department’s halls, periodically trying to make a run for it and bust through the doors.

My TA was more than happy to let us hold her, show us how Jumoka can flip over from her shell to her tummy, and tell us anything we could possibly need to know about red-eared sliders. TAs who care give me hope.

– GM


The first-time FASS student

There’s three weeks of classes left. I’m struggling to write three 10-page essays, I’ve slept seven of the last 72 hours. I feel like I’m going insane. I overslept the last lecture of BOT120 – and had failed the course I wasn’t allowed to fail. I was officially condemned.

Mark Deggan and Ken Seigneurie were my literature professors that semester. They gave me hope. They each allowed me to show them three drafts of my final essays and helped me revise each with extraordinarily detailed commentaries. Dr. Ken spent at least two hours at his standing desk helping me go through one. He gave me sample essays and invaluable techniques to criticize texts. Dr. Degg’s help was so great that I can’t put it into words; he’s an ideal humanist in the flesh.

Due to Dr. Ken and Dr. Degg, I decided to pursue literature in class. In fact, as I took more courses in the department, all of its profs have been exemplary in their own ways: Dr. Azadeh, Dr. B, and Dr. O. SFU World Literature gives me hope.

– K.A.U.


The tour guide

So I awkwardly started at SFU in January, when a whole week of “welcome back!” was crammed into an afternoon info session, and professors no longer had patience for first years getting lost. I also missed the boat on making friends, and was living off-campus to boot.

I did know that there was a pride center on campus, also known as Out on Campus. While I was looking around the book collection, a bubbly girl came in to say hello to the OOC Coordinator and realized that she didn’t know me.

She introduced herself, asked for my pronouns, and upon realizing that I was new, brought me on a full-blown tour of the Rotunda. I’ve seen her a few times since, and she has always been just as kind and lovely. Students who take the time to help give me hope.

– GM


The extra mile

SFU has many good instructors, but even after years here, it’s hard to understate how caring this specific BISC instructor is. Lower-division science students, you’ll know who I’m talking about.

This instructor goes around his lecture/lab asking students for their names so that he’ll know everyone’s name by the second class. He doesn’t have office hours — he has a constant open-door policy. He responds to emails within two hours, even if you are desperate for help at 2 a.m. He gets students free textbooks from the publisher, and creates his own YouTube videos to help us learn better. If the class is small enough, he even prints out lecture notes.

During a lab class with him, he came in on a day he wasn’t working so that he could help my group finish our project. He even bought the entire class pizza on the last day to help us celebrate the end of the semester. His commitment to student welfare gives me hope.