What Grinds Our Gears: Campus maps are aesthetically pleasing but useless for navigation

New students can be excused for not understanding how to get around campus with these maps

How do I get between the purple block and the green one?! Illustration: Marissa Ouyang/The Peak

By: Tiffany Chang, Peak Associate

I think most people — if not everyone — has noticed how the maps of the SFU campuses all lack sufficient detail. It’s no secret that sparsely-labelled geometric shapes don’t actually help people navigate the many mazes making up our academic institutions. Instead of leading us to our appropriate classrooms, they only lead us to even more confusion. 

As someone who already isn’t great with directions, if it weren’t for additional resources like signs and the SFU Snap’s “room finder” function, I would’ve constantly been getting lost during my freshman year. The first time I saw a map of the Burnaby campus, I was absolutely appalled. I had never seen a modern map look so primitive. 

I don’t understand how anyone could think people would be able to get around if they used these maps that have only a very basic outline of buildings, or only name larger areas like the Maggie Benston Centre and Academic Quadrangle. Not to mention the fact that class schedules use acronyms, which SFU automatically expects students to be able to match to the patchwork of buildings on these maps. This is on top of assuming students know how the hell to get into the oddly shaped blocks by squinting at tiny print-maps.

I’d rather skip the maps altogether and ask someone nearby, or spend half a day walking around to discover my classrooms’ whereabouts than waste precious time pouring over these sad excuses for maps. Apparently, certain people thought incorporating the bare minimum would suffice, but this decision clearly wasn’t the brightest.

I hope SFU considers designing better campus maps in the near future — though a part of me doubts it’ll happen.