Councillors vote to re-open the Student Union Building

February 16 Council meeting: unanimous support to open the SUB at reduced capacity

SFU stadium with red seats
Krystal Chan / The Peak

By: Karissa Ketter, News Writer

Vote on re-opening of the Student Union Building (SUB)

On January 20, the SFSS announced they were closing the SUB due to COVID-19 safety. They had tentatively scheduled the SUB to re-open on February 18, 2022. 

At the February 16 Council meeting, a motion was made to re-open the SUB on February 22, 2022. The decision to extend the opening came from the re-opening colliding with a weekend and a statutory holiday, as February 21 was Family Day. The motion proposed the SUB re-open at reduced capacity to limit the potential for COVID-19 transmission within the space. 

Vice-president events and student affairs Jess Dela Cruz noted the executive committee has been planning the reduced capacity model alongside SUB building staff for about a month. She reported some seats in the common study areas have been removed to encourage social distancing. 

This allows students the option to sit in single-occupancy areas or gather in groups within the SUB.

“The SFSS is obviously taking a safer approach than SFU and the government to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 within our spaces,” said Dela Cruz. 

Matthew Provost, vice-president external and community affairs, added the SFSS is planning to open bookable rooms to immunocompromised students and students who live with immunocompromised household members through SFU’s Disability and Neurodivergent Alliance. The details of bookings have not yet been finalized.

Health science student representative Jocelle Refol asked whether there would be a timeline for the reduced capacity model. 

Provost noted the executive committee is currently planning to slowly transition and reach full capacity for the Fall 2022 semester. However, the incoming SFSS executives will make the final decision. 

Provost also noted that despite the extreme amount of student backlash they faced for their decision to close the SUB, the SFSS says they had the community’s health interest in mind.

Hilary Tsui, a student in attendance, shared their experience with finding a study space with Council. Tsui is in favour of re-opening the SUB, and highlighted the lack of study space for small groups elsewhere on campus and how their study time is regularly interrupted by crowds. 

The motion to open the SUB on February 22 at a reduced capacity model passed unanimously. 

The Council purchases FN95 masks and personal protective equipment for students

The executive committee brought forth a motion for Council to allocate $30,000 to the purchase of FN95 masks and various personal protective equipment (PPE) for students across campus. 

Provost noted with the opening of the SUB, the executive committee felt it was important to provide PPE for students in that space. The masks will be available to students for free.

According to the SFSS, the FN95 masks are medical grade PPE with similarities to KN95 face masks. They are being sourced from local Vancouver businesses and are made in Canada. 

Sustainable energy engineering student society representative Mohammed Al-Sheboul raised the question around allocating some of that fund to making rapid-testing available on campus. 

Provost reported he contacted the BCCDC in December 2021 to apply for SFU to have rapid testing available. They have not yet received confirmation of their application. 

At the time of writing, SFU has rapid antigen test kits available for in-person students at all three campuses.

The Council passed this motion unanimously. 

Seating and space restrictions at the SUB are separated by floor levels. For more information, students can consult the SFSS’s website

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