Written by: Henry Tran, Coordinating News Editor
SFU diplomas to now list undergraduate students and alumni’s major
Previously, when SFU undergraduate students convocated, their degree parchments only listed the credential (bachelor, masters, etc.) and their graduating faculty. However, on November 6, 2017, the SFU Senate announced that starting in June 2018, all SFU undergraduate students’ diplomas will include their majors.
Many undergraduate students had felt that their old degree parchment was “purely decorative” as their employers requested additional documents from them specifying their major, according to a previous article written by The Peak. In a later hearing in January 2018, it was clarified that the new parchments would include major(s), minor(s), co-ops, distinctions, and degree-integral concentrations.
Initially, this amendment was not applicable to undergraduate students whom have already graduated prior to June 2018. However, at the January hearing, the SFU Senate decided that this new policy will also be applied to SFU undergraduate students who have graduated prior to the implementation of this new policy.
Certain independent student groups denied space in the new Student Union Building (SUB)
In September 2017, the campus radio station CJSF and the Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG) spoke to The Peak about the possibility that they would need to relocate away from Burnaby campus. With the nearing completion of the Student Union Building (SUB), the SFSS intended to return the Rotunda space to SFU, including the spaces being rented by SFPIRG and CJSF. As a result, both independent student societies were at risk of losing their space on campus.
In November 2017, the SFSS put out a call for student organizations and unions to express interest in acquiring space in the new building. In early December 2017, CJSF, SFPIRG, and Embark Sustainability Society alleged to The Peak that they were denied space in the new SUB.
Hangue Kim, the 2017–18 SFSS president, said that the decision was made due to interest from numerous student clubs and unions for space in the SUB. Kim emphasized that “space was never promised to [CJSF and SFPIRG] and no agreements were signed [ . . . ],” in a previous article written by The Peak.
In late January 2018, CJSF shared with The Peak that they might be offered space in the Forum Chambers, located in Maggie Benston Centre (MBC), by the SFSS as a compromise. Embark Sustainability Society was no longer interested in pursuing space in the SUB following the previous decision made by the SFSS. SFPIRG was also given the option to relocate to MBC; however, due to the conditions stipulated by SFPIRG at the time, the SFSS revoked this offer, according to a previous Peak article.
Following months of discussion between SFPIRG and the SFSS, in April 2018, SFPIRG signed a new lease with the student society that would allow them to continue their occupancy in the Rotunda until December 14, 2018. SFPIRG alleged that they signed the agreement with the SFSS under duress, according to a previous Peak article.
Initially, the SFSS offered SFPIRG a lease extension offer on April 5, with a deadline for acceptance on April 20. The student society also asked SFPRIG to pay a $10,000 security deposit fee to extend its sublease. However, SFPIRG drafted a letter to the SFSS explaining why they could not make the payment.
Upon reviewing this letter, the SFSS decided to revoke the security deposit fee on April 19, but on the condition that SFPIRG accept the terms of the new contract within 24 hours, in line with the originally-given April 20 deadline. After complying, SFPIRG received an email from the SFSS stating that after the December 14 date, they will have to leave the Rotunda.
Jas Randhawa, then the 2018–19 SFSS president, stated that SFPIRG was “more interested in taking an adversarial stance than they are in working with us to find a solution” in a previous Peak news story. “SFPIRG has consistently rejected our offers and placed unreasonable conditions on accepting them.”
SFPIRG emphasized that they would not move out by December 14 because they believe that their services are integral to the student community.
In addition, SFU Students of African and Caribbean Ancestry (SOCA) criticized the SFSS for alleged “institutionalized racism.” Like CJSF and SFPIRG, SOCA did not receive space in the SUB. According to SOCA, the SFSS were not punctual in their scheduled meetings with the student group and failed to communicate clearly in their negotiations.
However, current acting president of the SFSS, Samer Rihani, said that “the SFSS board of directors was willing to continue talks with SOCA about extending their sublease in the rotunda beyond December 14, 2018 [as a compromise],” in a previous Peak article.
SFSS presidency ends in impeachment
In March 2018, Jas Randhawa was elected as SFSS president. However, in August, The Peak received an email from Randhawa stating that “he was under pressure from his [co-workers] to resign from his position.” Randhawa also provided a recording of a private meeting between Randhawa and five SFSS vice-presidents.
In this leaked recording, various SFSS directors were allegedly unsatisfied with Randhawa’s performance as a leader. Randhawa was accused of failing to present information factually and transparently to the board, adhere to the student society’s code of conduct and bylaws, or accept constructive feedback. He was also accused of physically assaulting a faculty representative and mishandling sexual misconduct allegations made against someone within the board office.
On August 14, the SFSS Board of Directors unanimously agreed to add the motion to impeach Randhawa onto the agenda of its upcoming annual general meeting (AGM).
“I was provided an offer to resign and publicly state that it was for personal or family issues [instead of going through the process of impeachment] . . . I believe I would not be upholding to being president of the student body at SFU by giving into threats and frivolous accusations [sic],” stated Randhawa, according to a previous article by The Peak.
On September 25, the student society’s AGM took place at the Leslie and Gordon Diamond Family Auditorium. Prior to the meeting, a smoke bomb was set off on the premises. Campus security and firefighters were called to clear the scene, delaying the meeting by three hours.
After the smoke was cleared out, the student society presented its yearly report to its membership as well as casting votes on the special resolution to impeach Randhawa. Two-thirds of the membership voted to remove Randhawa as president.
2018 Fall Kickoff concert is cancelled . . . a replacement barbeque is held instead at UBC
The SFSS wanted to book the Convocation Mall on September 21, 2018, to hold the Fall 2018 Kickoff concert. However, the university had already leased a place adjacent to Convocation Mall where an independent Meeting, Events, and Conference Services (MECS) event was taking place, according to a previous Peak article. MECS and SFU’s Safety and Risk Services deemed that it was not possible to host the two events simultaneously.
The university offered the SFSS alternative dates to book the event, but the SFSS board of directors believed that these dates would lead to lower student turnout, making the event a large enough net deficit for the society’s budget that they would be unable to hold other student-life events throughout the year. Therefore, the student society decided to cancel the 2018 Fall Kickoff concert.
Nancy Johnston, vice-provost students and international stated that in order to avoid encountering the same situation in the future, the SFSS should start meeting with the university’s “event planning folks [in April] and not June or early July.”
Following the cancellation of the Fall Kickoff concert, the SFSS shared with its membership that the student society would partner with the Alma Mater Society (AMS) of UBC to host AMS’s Welcome Back BBQ. The student society expressed that this “partnership was the best alternative for our members given the circumstances.”
SFU’s safety, security, and mental health policies and protocols questioned following incidents on campus
On October 3, 2018, a violent event broke out in a classroom in the Robert C. Brown Hall. Ashley Lee, who was one of the students at the scene, stated that there was an upset student from another class entering her classroom. This upset student began to throw chairs and tables at Lee’s classmates, injuring a student.
In a public Facebook post that Lee created, she shared: “I have since discovered that there aren’t locks on any of the classroom doors at SFU (at least none that I have seen) [sic].” According to a previous article written by The Peak, many of the doors at SFU cannot be locked or unlocked without a key.
After the incident, according to Lee’s Facebook post, a security officer and a psychologist from SFU Health and Counselling visited the class and told the class that “the situation wasn’t that bad and [the students] were all overreacting.”
Tim Rahilly, SFU vice-provost and associate vice-president, students and international, said in an interview with The Peak that based on the students’ feedback and social media posts, the university reached out to the affected students individually to provide support.
On October 12, 2018, the university released a public statement addressing the incident. Lee said that: “I’m glad [SFU is] finally reaching out but it’s upsetting it took this long and required a bit of a fight [. . .],” according to a previous Peak article.
Two weeks after the campus violence incident, a medical emergency took place at Burnaby campus. The student was in his late 50s, and upon noticing his discomfort, Campus Public Safety was called.
Rahilly confirmed in an interview with The Peak that despite the medical treatment provided, the student passed away at the scene on October 17, 2018.
In light of the event, Rahilly sent out an email to SFU students on behalf of the university, advising students to contact Campus Public Safety first prior to calling 911 in cases of emergencies. Students, however, expressed their concerns regarding this policy. Some students have posted on the r/simonfraser subreddit, alleging that campus security is slow to respond, and that they are not properly trained in dealing with medical emergencies.
Rahilly explained that because Campus Public Safety personnel knows the layout of SFU better than external emergency services, it is faster if SFU students contact Campus Public Safety first so they can direct the emergency services personnel to the exact location. Rahilly also noted that the institution did not have a policy in place for a medical emergency during an exam. “This is to my knowledge the first time that this has happened in an exam at SFU,” he shared.
Following this incident, SFU held an internal debrief of the situation in terms of the university’s practices and responses. In addition, in light of both this event and the violent incident in October, the institution is putting together a larger review regarding campus safety and security.
A new pub is coming to SFU Burnaby
The Study Public House is the new pub that will take over the Highland Pub’s old space in the Maggie Benston Centre. It was originally scheduled to open in late 2018; however, this was delayed as the space is still undergoing extensive renovations.
The new pub is managed by Joseph Richard Group (JRG), a hospitality organization that operates in both B.C. and Alberta. JRG will also be providing SFU with another catering service option, called Blank Canvas Catering, under MECS, according to a previous Peak article. Currently, Sodexo is the only catering service available at SFU under MECS.
According to Mark McLaughlin, chief commercial services officer at SFU, the new pub will have a bar as well as an arcade space for its clients, including vintage pinball machines, ping-pong tables, and shuffleboard games.
The new pub will be able to accomodate 330 individuals indoor and 82 on the patio — a much higher capacity than what Highland Pub previously had. Once the SUB opens, the capacity of the patio is expected to increase even more because there will be a new fire exit added to it. There will also be a designated area on the patio where smoking is permitted, with the exclusion of cannabis smoking.
The pub is tentatively scheduled to open Monday – Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., but this is dependent on how much business the pub gets, according to a previous article written by The Peak. Entry to the pub will be restricted to students who are at least 19 years old due to its liquor license. Student organizations will also be able to book pub nights in The Study Public House.
SFSS introduces new services to membership
Starting January 2, 2019, Fraser International College (FIC) students will have access to services such as Out on Campus, the Women’s Centre, food bank services, free legal clinics, and other SFSS-provided services. This is based on the new partnership between the SFSS and FIC that was agreed on back in April 2018.
The exact cost of the services for FIC students is still being determined, but a small amount of their tuition fees will be used towards the services provided by the SFSS, according to a previous Peak article.
On August 1, 2018, another new service was introduced to SFU students. SFU and the SFSS launched a multi-platform mental health and support service, titled keep.meSAFE Student Support Program (SSP). This is a two-year pilot project between the university and the student society to provide additional support and service for students regarding mental health.
SSP is offered online and is integrated with the Health and Counselling Services of SFU.