On March 18, 2019, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) copy centre officially closed its doors after operating in the Maggie Benston Centre for more than three decades. Student unions and student clubs will have to find an alternative service to print their banners and flyers for recruitment and fundraising purposes.
The motion to suspend the SFSS copy centre was passed at an executive meeting amongst the SFSS board of directors in late January 2019. Samer Rihani, acting president of the SFSS, explained in an email interview with The Peak that the board members wanted to pass the motion as soon as possible to begin planning for the service termination and to give students and staff ample notice to prepare. Therefore, they held this internal meeting where they unanimously agreed to terminate the print service.
“The reason for holding this internal meeting was because the board of directors did not want to wait until the next board meeting where the motion would not be able to officially pass until then [ . . . ] We wanted to pass it as soon as possible so that we could begin discussion with the union and get staff notified right away,” said Rihani.
He also explained that the SFSS staff as well as the copy centre coordinator, Nancy Mah, were well informed of the process as soon as the decision was made.
According to a statement provided by the student society, the copy centre is not as heavily used by its membership anymore, with an average of 11.4 customers accessing its service in fall 2018 — and in some cases, some of these clients were not even affiliated with the SFSS. The Peak was unable to confirm how big these print orders were on average.
The statement further adds that from 2009–18, the SFSS has subsidized approximately $466,771 towards the operational costs of the copy centre, which equates to an average of $46,677 in subsidies per year. For the 2018–19 fiscal year alone, the student society budgeted $29,446 for the copy centre, according to the statement provided.
In addition, the student society had to subsidize approximately $12.50 for every print order that was made at the copy centre, regardless of whether the print request was large or small, i.e printing a banner for $600 versus printing documents for $5. The subsidies were used to cover any financial losses incurred by the copy centre in case its revenues were not enough to sustain its operation, according to Rihani.
“The continual loss of the copy center each year has had numerous board[s] discussing the status of the copy center for years,” said Rihani. “What we realized was that it was a continual loss where most of the usage was not coming from undergraduate students.
“About half came from grad students and SFU administration which showed us that with the continual loss, as well as the $12.50 subsidy for EACH [sic] order, we knew there were better services available to consider in place of the copy center.”
The SFSS document also noted that there are multiple other printing services at the three SFU campuses, such as Cornerstone Printing (Burnaby), SFU Document Solutions (Burnaby and Surrey campus locations), Staples Copy & Print, as well as Vistaprint and Linxprint.
Rihani noted that as long as student groups and student unions keep their original receipt, they can be reimbursed by the student society for their print orders.
When asked if the student society had consulted with student groups and student unions prior to approving this motion, Rihani replied: “The news came out to student groups in a shorter period of time due to the fact that the continual loss was becoming an issue for us. We did not want to leave this to be a problem for the next board.”
The student society also included in their statement that the copy centre was developed at a time when “e-books did not exist,” the internet and social media were less popular, “home-based printing options were very limited,” and cell phones were not as advanced as they are today.
Rihani concluded the interview by stating that the SFSS board of directors currently have no plans for the space of the now-retired copy center, which is located in MBC 2260, for other initiatives as the new Student Union Building is nearing completion. In addition, Rihani stated that Mah will continue to work for the SFSS in a new capacity as a member services coordinator.