SFU administration announces updated health measures

New guidelines ensure a safer, more accessible campus for students and faculty

You’ve already made it farther through the article than 97% of the student population. ILLUSTRATION: Siloam Yeung / The Peak

By: Carter Hemion, Humour Editor

SFU administration announced updated health and safety guidelines applicable to all three campuses. The new guidelines, rather than focusing on pressing issues of the pandemic, highlight more general measures for accessibility and safety. 

Health & Counselling Services to close

In an effort to better serve students’ health, all Health & Counselling Services (HCS) locations will be closing by the end of 2021. HCS representatives confirmed they will reduce services through the end of the year until permanently closing. 

The official statement said, “Students can do anything they put their minds to. By giving them sick notes and diagnosing injuries and illnesses, we discourage them from going to school when they could still be learning. Instead, students should practice grounding exercises and mindfulness in the classroom, and they can accomplish anything.”

Seatbelts optional on campus roads

Beginning November 1, seatbelts are recommended but not required on campus roads. President Joy Johnson said, “Despite province-wide restrictions, public post-secondary institutions are not bound by law to enforce rules about wearing seatbelts on their campuses.” 

Similarly, administration acknowledged campus security cannot ask to see driver’s license cards as many businesses may for identification and admission purposes.

According to the HCS website, this update is due in part to “protecting the freedoms of anti-belt students.” Some students who use transit do not have the medical option of wearing a seatbelt; however, the majority of non-belt students believe it is their right to not wear a seatbelt while driving, and SFU respects that choice.

Updated language guidelines

In conjunction with administrative decisions, the Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL) has updated their guide on accessible language and plans to distribute it to professors by the end of 2023. 

Students will be required to register how they identify themselves, as long as it’s in the four-part drop down menu. With regards to language changes, website examples include “students who have an ability,” “persons with neurotypicality,” and “persons who may or may not be somewhat ability [sic].”

CAL’s website said, “We do not see disability. In fact, we actively avoid seeing it. This is the most efficient way to ensure treating all students equally.”

Stairs closed for equity

In recognition of the physical barriers that some disabled students face, SFU will be closing all staircases so all students can access campus equally. The official announcement stated “elevators are no longer an access tool, but the only way to access campuses from now on. In a random survey of distance education students with neurotypicality and ability, we found that removing staircases would be our best option.”

Administration confirmed all broken elevators may be addressed by printing a “closed” sign within 48–72 hours of being reported.

The announcement also included plans to add a written acknowledgement of privilege to each staircase and to use $20 million of student tuition to turn each staircase into a work of art by the Fall 2031 semester.