By: Jess Dela Cruz, News Writer
It took 523 signatures but the student’s collective voice has been heard — SFU’s campus shuttle lives on. Due to a petition on the website change.org started by student Robyn Jacques in June (which The Peak previously reported on), the Campus Community Shuttle service has now been extended for one more year and will run until August 2020.
SFU’s Parking & Sustainable Mobility released a statement saying, “As a response to your overwhelmingly positive feedback and thanks to a collaboration with [Fraser International College], we will be extending the current Campus Community Shuttle Pilot Project.”
Jacques started the petition as a way to prioritize student safety on campus. Her incentive for starting the petition was because she “realiz[ed] how unsafe the campus has become in recent months.”
“There are so many vulnerable populations on campus that are at a higher risk of getting assaulted or robbed, and I strongly believe that the shuttle has helped keep those same populations safe,” Jacques said in an email interview with The Peak.
The safety and well-being of students is one of Jacque’s priorities after dealing with her own experiences of sexual harassment and walking home at night on campus. Jacques said, “Before the shuttle, I was terrified about walking home late at night, and I felt that I was completely restricted to my dorm once it was dark out. Once the shuttle was implemented, I knew that I no longer had to fear going up to Cornerstone at night, because I knew I had a safe ride home.”
There were a plethora of comments on the online petition from students in support of keeping the shuttle due to having work, classes or social activities until late in the night on campus. Recent reports of sexual assaults on campus may have increased the desire for safety measures such as this. One signatory, Tanzina Islam, wrote, “It is very convenient for the residence community and especially for FIC students . . . I remember the struggles of walking alone to FIC scared especially at night and not to forget [the] days of winter. Talking to my FIC friends, this bus shuttle has been the best thing for them in the past months [ . . . ]”
The petition was started in June and was largely directed by Jacques. “I am not a member of the SFSS, I do not have close ties with board members or deans, so I did not know what power I would have over the shuttle staying or not.” She reflected on her efforts and added, “For over a month, I had put all of my energy into this campaign . . . it finally felt like I had made a difference, and knowing that I did it on my own made it even better.”
Jacques still feels that there is more to be done, however — including additional security and better lighting around campus in the night time. She notes that “the walkway by the observatory [is] pitch black” and “the areas surrounding Shell House Residence and McTaggart-Cowan Hall are relatively dark.” Jacques also mentions that “SFU needs to put more money into light fixtures around campus, and at no point during the night [should] they be turned off.”
The free shuttle will run until August 2020, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. every thirty minutes. It will be stopping at Discovery 1, High Street in UniverCity, and the Dining Hall by student residency.
Several students have raised issues about accessibility related to the shuttle. The Peak will be reporting on this in a follow-up story in the near future.