We need more classes at the Surrey and Vancouver campuses

Accessible education starts with an accessible campus

A photo of the outside of SFU Surrey campus’ entryway atrium. The image looks slightly stretched out, but is otherwise pretty recognizable. The photo was taken at dusk, accenting the building’s lighting.
Students have expressed interest in the further development of SFU’s Surrey campus. Photo courtesy of Simon Fraser University

By: Charlene Aviles, Staff Writer

If you’re an SFU student, you’ll likely find yourself having to take a course at the Burnaby campus at some point in your academic career; however, because of the Burnaby campus’ often harsh weather conditions and distance, it is not as accessible to many students. To keep SFU accessible for all students, there should be more classes at the Surrey campus.

As the SFU community waits for the Burnaby Mountain gondola to be built, students and staff need reliable access to campus. Every year, the Burnaby campus accumulates at least 50 cm of snow, resulting in difficult road conditions for commuters.

More classes at the Surrey and Vancouver campuses would address these accessibility issues. Unlike the Burnaby campus, the Surrey campus is within walking distance from the Surrey Central Skytrain Station and multiple bus stops. The same goes for the Vancouver’s Harbour Center campus, which is just across the street from the skytrain, West Coast Express, and Sea Bus at Waterfront Station. Better transit access makes in-person education more accessible to students from across the Lower Mainland.

The Surrey and Vancouver campuses have a few important features that make them a safely travellable campus: multiple stair railings, wheelchair ramps, elevators, and escalators throughout the campus. This offers students many more options to meet their access needs. In contrast, Burnaby campus has staircases without railings, which pose a safety concern for staff and students.

While SFU students might have felt overwhelmed by the school’s construction and renovations, the 2022 SFSS referendum results indicate students are open to projects that create hubs outside of Burnaby. The results reveal students want the school to pursue an expansion of the Surrey campus, as well as new subsidized student housing.  The popular motion suggests the construction of a Surrey campus Student Union Building, which would provide students more study space and access to SFSS resources. The demand for a more involved set of campuses exists; SFU just needs to act on it.As Canada’s engaged university, SFU aims to focus on community engagement. Increasing accessibility to communities throughout the Metro Vancouver area would be a huge asset to this goal.

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