CJSF shows how integral independent societies are to the SFU experience

Losing our campus radio station would mean one less way for students to engage with their community

A lot of hard work and fond memories are tied up in CJSF. Photo: Chris Ho/The Peak

By: Leslie Wang, SFU Student

In the spring of my third year at SFU, I was living with a horrible case of lizard brain — I doubted all of my actions, words, and thoughts. It was an extremely difficult couple of months on my mental health. Tired, I decided to fight back and take a risk: I joined the on-campus radio station, CJSF. There, I found that I had little to worry about. I was welcomed warmly and offered a myriad of activities through which I could participate. 

At first, I just wanted a change of pace and wanted to tap more into my creative side. Slowly, I began to get acquainted with the station’s day-to-day activities. I met cool people, many of whom were fellow students. I realized that CJSF created an incredible community that is integral to the student experience at SFU. To lose CJSF would mean that students would be robbed of the potential for a fulfilling student experience.

However, the station is currently facing the threat of being displaced. Last semester, the SFSS Board of Directors voted to exclude several Rotunda student groups — the Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG), Students of Caribbean and African Ancestry (SOCA), Embark, and CJSF — from spacing plans in the upcoming Student Union Building. 

Obviously, this made me very upset. For CJSF, being displaced means that the station would be left without an adequate space from which to operate. Importantly, it means that students involved with CJSF would not have a space to create radio content, a space to hang out with other community members, or a space from which to organize.

CJSF provides opportunities for me to get involved at SFU and my community beyond SFU. It gives me a safe space to express my creativity. There, I feel like I belong, I make friends, and I find community. I vividly remember supporting the running of the station’s booth with other CJSF members during Pride in 2018. We were a popular booth. In the August heat, we stood under our muggy tent for hours, cranking out hundreds of handmade custom pins. Afterwards, sipping on margaritas, we toasted to our hard day of work in the community. 

I also remember a dreary, rainy springtime in the middle of the semester when studies and work felt too overwhelming. Stuck in what seemed to be an unending loop of cold, wet nights and grey, damp days, my work piled up and my lizard brain ramped up to maximum power. It was the friends I made at the station who cheered me on. Springtime was just as hard for them as it was for me, but we had each other to rely on. And we could look forward to unwinding and doing something fun when we hosted our radio program.

Students cannot lose CJSF. The radio station’s involvement at SFU is unspeakably bountiful. Not only do we endeavour to highlight students’ voices, movements, and issues, but students help run the operations of our station. Much of our programming and events are student-organized and lead. Every week, CJSF welcomes prospective SFU student volunteers to its office. They become curious about what we do at the station when they see us at Club Days events. They hope to get hired at the station as work-study students, interns, or summer assistants. Students are involved in every part of CJSF’s structure.

Recently, the SFSS Council condemned the SFSS Board on their decision to exclude CJSF, SFPIRG, SOCA, and Embark from their accessible, cost-effective, long-term space models, and I — along with many other CJSF volunteers — am immensely grateful for this. But knowing that these groups are still in a limbo state on spacing issues continues to be worrying and frustrating. It is the Board’s responsibility to offer accessible, cost-effective, long-term space for these student groups. And so far, they have failed to do so.

CJSF enriches the lives of SFU students, current and prospective. It has enriched my experience as an SFU student in so many ways — as it has done for countless others. Losing CJSF at SFU would hurt students more than the SFSS Board of Directors could possibly imagine. 

Currently in the middle of my final semester, I look back at the memories that I made at CJSF. No doubt I will continue to volunteer there even after I graduate — at least, I hope to be able to do so.