Save SFPIRG! Provide leased space at SFU!
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The Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG) is a student-funded and student-directed resource centre at Simon Fraser University (SFU) dedicated to engaging students and community in social and environmental justice. All students at SFU, both undergraduate and graduate, are members of SFPIRG – and have been since 1981! Areas of work include education, action, research, and community-building. SFPIRG brings together a diverse range of people and our work is all centred on a shared set of values. Ultimately, a thread that runs through all our work is advocating for a more just and inclusive world; one which prioritizes everyone’s wellness, access, and participation.
SFPIRG currently subleases office and lounge space in the Rotunda from the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS). The SFSS is currently building a new Student Union Building (SUB), and will be relinquishing its lease on the Rotunda once the SUB is completed. This means SFPIRG will need a new home on campus to keep engaging students and community in social and environmental justice!
SFPIRG serves approximately 30,000 students at SFU, including undergraduate and graduate students. Our current lease is for approximately 1,400 square feet in the Rotunda. To continue our current programs, SFPIRG needs:
- Space that is accessible to all students, including those with disabilities. The Undergrounds, which SFSS has mentioned but has not formally offered, will require extensive renovation to meet this need.
- We currently collaborate on events and programs with the other independent student societies on campus. The allocation of space to SFPIRG cannot mean that our fellow organizations will be rendered homeless.
- To continue our existing programs and services, we will require space that is functionally equivalent to our current office and lounge space. If organizational space can be arranged to work for several work study students, a volunteer Board of Directors, various volunteer teams, three permanent staff, and all those students who come to our organization seeking support and a place where they feel safe, we are prepared to accept space no smaller than 820 square feet – the size of the smaller organizational suites in the SUB.
Who has the power to meet these needs and house SFPIRG?
- SFU can decide to lease to SFPIRG directly, in the Maggie Benston Centre (MBC) office space that the SFSS will be vacating when they move into the SUB.
- The SFSS can decide to lease the "organizational suites" in the SUB to the independent student societies on campus, including SFPIRG, Embark, CJSF, and The Peak.
Either of these options would meet both SFPIRG's space needs AND the needs of SFU students!
If SFPIRG loses its space and is forced to relocate elsewhere, the SFU community risks losing one of the few hubs where students can come together to engage with social justice issues and explore alternatives to the status quo, as learners and also as leaders. SFPIRG is a place where students who are facing social barriers here at SFU can find emotional and practical support that is grounded in an awareness that social injustice is a real thing. We regularly hear from students that SFPIRG is one of the only places on campus they feel safe talking about their experiences of injustice. Students need more than simply space – they need a wide array of programming and support. SFPIRG is one organization meeting part of that need.
We call on SFU and the SFSS to do the right thing, and lease appropriate campus space to SFPIRG!
Support student leadership!
Support student engagement!
Support social justice at SFU!
What do current and former SFU students have to say about SFPIRG?
- "I regularly apply the skills I gained from SFPIRG to my life, studies, and grassroots community organizing efforts, leading to employment as a women's centre coordinator. SFPIRG's active commitments to disrupting all systems of oppression, supporting resistance struggles, and uplifting systemically marginalized voices on their own terms resonate with me, and having such safer, accessible space on campus has been integral to my growth and wellbeing as a student." - Maisaloon Al-Ashkar, BA in First Nations Studies and Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies
- "There are so few resources on campus for students and faculty alike to so easily draw on for support in the difficult work of unlearning our privilege, identifying the intersections of oppression and power that we are all entangled in, and growing in our capacity to do our work in ways that foster inclusion, respect, and welcome. SFPIRG offers the support to do this, and so much more." - Scott Neufeld, BA, MA, PhD Student in Psychology, Vanier Scholar
- "It is more essential than ever to protect spaces like SFPIRG, true hubs for empowering engaged, critically thinking leaders. And this is precisely what we need most in order for a just world to blossom - dedicated leaders, with space and time and room to grow with and into and beyond themselves. SFPIRG nurtured me to be the leader I am today." - Aleks Besan, BA in International Studies, 2014 Valedictorian of Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
- "The layered benefits of a community space are many: the lifelong friendships forged through balanced discussions; a place of refuge between busy classes and the demands of life; a work environment for students to get hands-on experience; a research hub where students and community can reach symbiosis. At every point of interaction with the SFU community, SFPIRG has lasting positive change and provides an essential bridge between students and their communities." - Isaac Louie, BA in Psychology, BEd. w/ minor in Environmental Education
- "If we want to believe that the university produces ethical and responsible persons, we need to also believe in the on-campus communities, like SFPIRG, that make that possible. Academic spaces need to be in collaboration with social-justice-centric organizations that present different, creative, and alternative approaches to making a better world, and to surviving in one that is not there yet." - Tavleen Purewal, BA in English and French
- "An engaged university facilitates student access to organizations that provide opportunities to wrestle with the social and environmental issues of our time. It is in SFU’s best interest to ensure that SFPIRG continues to exist, as it contributes to SFU’s overall ecology of engagement on campus, while providing students grounded opportunities for professional and personal growth. I cannot imagine an engaged SFU without SFPIRG." - Alyssa Serpa, BEnv. in Human Geography, Minor in Music
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