Written by: Kim Regala, Staff Writer
As we say goodbye to the previous decade and welcome a new one, let’s take a look back at some of the crucial events that have taken place at SFU over the last ten years.
2010: Andrew Petter is elected as SFU President and Vice-Chancellor
The name Andrew Petter may be familiar to any SFU student who’s been attending the school in the past decade. Currently in his tenth year as President and Vice-Chancellor at SFU, Petter took the leadership in 2010, following the footsteps of Michael Stevenson who likewise held his position for ten years. Formerly the NDP cabinet minister, Petter expressed large plans for the university’s future when he got the job, including the expansion of the Surrey campus, the incorporation of new faculties — such as the faculty of environment and faculty of communication, art, and technology — as well as the development of the Woodward’s campus in Downtown Vancouver.
2011: Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) holds a 94-day lockout
In the summer of 2011, the SFSS’ Board of Directors locked out their unionized workers for 94 days, halting the bargaining process to reach a collective agreement with the Local 3888 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Barry O’Neill, president of CUPE BC at the time, explained that “The SFSS politicians want to lay staff off, cut wages by up to 40 per cent, and replace experienced staff members with untrained volunteers.” The move to lock these groups out of employment was led by former SFSS president Jeff McCann whose decision left many services unavailable to students, including the Women’s Centre and Out on Campus.
2012: CUPE and TSSU join forces in job action
After two long years of demanding increased wages, yet still having no collective agreement with SFU, members of the CUPE Local 3888 joined together with the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) to put immense pressure onto the university. A unanimous vote was reached in May to pass a motion to conduct a strike vote. The strike vote resulted in 90% of members voting in favour of taking job action. The two unions formed picket lines in front of SFU buildings, preventing any paid employees from entering their workplace.
2013: Physical altercation creates conflict within SFSS Board members
Internal issues within the SFSS arose when environment representative Monique Ataei reported a case of physical assault by member services officer Moe Kopahi, urging for Kopahi’s resignation from the SFSS. The October incident was recounted in a Peak article, where Ataei recalled borrowing Kopahi’s phone to make a call. After changing his mind due to privacy reasons, Kopahi allegedly snatched his phone back from Ataei, striking her face. In the midst of the conflict, Ataei brought up concerns regarding safe working environments, indicating that she has personally felt scared in the office before. The incident was opened up a year later, reported in a later Peak article that it was “accidental in nature and did not involve any violation of SFSS policies.”
2014: Students vote “YES” for Student Union Building (SUB) plans to proceed
The SUB project was finally approved at the 2014 SFSS Annual General Meeting (AGM), where over 400 students showed up to vote. This had been an ongoing plan by the Build SFU project since 2012, with its construction estimated at a total cost of $65 million. There were 328 votes in favour of this special resolution and only 26 oppositional votes, signaling strong student support for the SUB.
2015: . . . Or not? Students reject pursuit of loan for SUB and Stadium projects
Another round of voting was held at a Special General Meeting (SGM) in 2015, as students expressed their concerns regarding the lack of accommodation for all SFU students in the previous meeting. This time, over 630 students came to the SGM, in which the final decision was to deny the pursuit of a loan for the SUB, as well as the Stadium projects planned by Build SFU.
2016: Deepak Sharma resigns as SFSS president
It came as a huge shock to the SFSS when elected president Deepak Sharma was forced to resign from his role, only a month after the Board of Directors took office in May. The SFSS revealed that since they had confirmed Sharma’s failure to meet membership eligibility status, his position has since been left empty. This left former VP of student services Larissa Chen to take over the role of SFSS president until an official re-election was to be held in October.
2017: SFU begins its journey to reconciliation
A traditional witnessing ceremony was held in Convocation Mall, led by Coast Salish First Nations members, to commemorate the beginning of SFU’s long journey towards reconciliation. This event took place after receiving a final report from the SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Council (ARC), outlining how SFU may direct its $9 million reconciliation fund for the years to come. The report emphasized the expansion of Indigenous spaces on campus, providing more support for Indigenous students, as well as developing a curriculum that offers Indigenous-related course material.
2018: Jas Randhawa is impeached
More trouble regarding the SFSS presidency came up in 2018, when former president Jas Randhawa was impeached from his position. At the time, Randhawa leaked a recording to The Peak of a meeting he had with the executive members of the SFSS Board of Directors. The recording revealed various accusations made against him, including allegations of physical assault, and failure to acknowledge and address complaints of sexual misconduct from other Board members. It also revealed immense pressure from within the SFSS for Randhawa to resign from his role, with certain directors even drafting him a resignation letter. His final fate was met, however, at the AGM where a two-thirds majority was reached in favour of his impeachment.
2019: SFSS Board rejects motion to house Rotunda groups in new Student Union Building
A motion was brought forward regarding the inclusion of permanent spaces for SFPIRG, CJSF, SOCA, and Embark — independent student societies and a student club currently housed in the Rotunda — in the new SUB. Unfortunately, the motion was then denied. The motion, which was initially proposed to the SFSS Board of Directors by SFSS president Giovanni HoSang, would have housed the Rotunda groups in the SUB. The SFSS Council has condemned this decision and threatened to put forth a referendum question for the upcoming SFSS election asking students if they would like to grant permanent space to Rotunda groups.