Written by: Karissa Ketter, News Writer
The SFU C19 Coalition is asking SFU Senior Administration to formally defer tuition and withdraw fee increases for the 2020–21 academic year. The Coalition is a grassroots organization of students and staff at SFU fighting for the Senior Administration to prioritize “equity, justice, and redistribution of resources” during the pandemic, according to co-organizer Balqees Jama.
Their demands include increasing transparency on SFU’s COVID-19 responses, recognizing that there has been a decrease in quality of education for students and an increase in workload for instructors, as well as implementing a tuition deferment.
The organization is demanding action from SFU as well as the federal and provincial governments to see more clarity, democracy, and respect for the challenges that students are facing amidst the pandemic.
As noted by Jama in an email statement to The Peak, “the C19 Coalition will increase pressure and campaigns if the university is not responsive to students’ and workers’ concerns.” This will be ongoing work, and they will continue to campaign for “the health and financial interests” of all.
Currently, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS), the Graduate Student Society (GSS), the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU), and Tuition Freeze Now have all endorsed the Coalition.
The support of the TSSU “ensures there is solidarity between students and teaching support staff during this pandemic.” The Coalition is not pushing the rhetoric of teachers against students, as they recognize that staff at SFU are also experiencing tuition burdens, an increased workload, and mental health challenges, according to Jama. She also noted that the support of their union is “a good resource because of its long history of organizing students and workers on campus.”
The Coalition sought student body opinions during many opportunities such as the SFSS COVID-19 Survey and the C19 Coalition Town Hall. They stated that they will continue to engage with students and represent their needs to the administration.
Jama noted that it’s “important for students and workers to be able to afford an education and survive without sacrificing their health or academic studies.”
The C19 Coalition is currently running a petition that has over 1,400 signatures. Students can sign-up to be an organizer here. They also encourage students to contact local representatives, their respective academic departments, SFU’s administration, or to sign the GSS Letter to BC’s Health Minister and the Migrant Student United! petition.