SFU community group formed to advocate for student and staff during COVID-19

The C19 Coalition is advocating for the university to better support the SFU community, financially and academically

Image courtesy SFU C19 Coalition via Facebook

Written by: Michelle Gomez, News Editor

In light of COVID-19, members of the SFU community have come together in support of one another through a group known as the SFU C19 Coalition. Formed in March of 2020, the SFU C19 Coalition consists of a combination of SFU students and employees. 

According to their demands to the university, the Coalition is advocating for more consultation with students and staff, a variety of academic accommodations for students and teaching staff, and better financial assistance to all students⁠—including international students. 

In a statement to The Peak, Ed Graham, an organizer at the Coalition, said that the movement was started due to the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 was having on international students and employees. 

“We hope the coalition will bring the financial and academic demands of internationals to the attention of SFU and beyond. We hope to see steps to ensure concrete measures are taken,” wrote Graham. 

President of the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) and C19 Coalition Liaison to the SFSS Osob Mohamed talked more about the Coalition in an interview with The Peak. 

So far, Mohamed explained, the Coalition has been involved in online outreach, including an online petition. On the Coalition’s website, they also have listed a number of advocacy initiatives that students can get involved in. 

With regard to lowering tuition fees, the Coalition is pushing for SFU to implement some sort of tuition waiver for the Summer and Fall semesters. “The quality of education when you’re receiving it remotely is simply not the same as it is when you’re receiving it in person,” said Mohamed. 

Another key demand of the Coalition is that the university must provide clear guidelines to instructors with regard to remote teaching. 

“Nothing has been mandated to instructors as to what they’re allowed to and not allowed to do,” Mohamed stated. 

“We’re hoping to get some more clear guidelines across the board for instructors on how they’re allowed to conduct exams,” said Mohamed. She added that they will continue to push for the prohibition of proctoring software and room scans during exams. 

She also noted that the Coalition is pushing to give students free access to any software that might be required for a class, including SPSS and Adobe Creative Suite. Moreover, they would like to see professor’s recording lectures for the benefit of students who are in different time zones. 

“International students are getting the short end of the straw again,” remarked Mohamed. She noted that some of the added burdens on international students include paying higher tuition rates, experiencing difficulty returning home, having a limit to the number of hours they can work, and not being eligible for the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit. 

Mohamed explained that since the SFSS has officially endorsed the Coalition, they are hoping to bring their demands to coming meetings with university administrators and the president himself. 

“We fully support the work being done by the Coalition, we will continue to work with them to [ . . . ] make sure our students are getting the best outcomes that they possibly can during these rough times.” 

In addition to being endorsed by the SFSS, the Coalition has also been endorsed by the Graduate Student Society), the Teaching and Support Staff Union, and the Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group.