Some graduate students at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby are speaking out about the physical conditions of some of the buildings around campus.
They started a Tumblr blog called ‘I [Heart] SFU‘ and have been posting photos over the past few years showing the decaying state of some of the buildings.
Julia Lane, an SFU graduate with the Student Society, said it was her predecessor who started the blog. “Grad students are on the campus in a lot of different capacities,” said Lane, “and we spend a lot of time there so we notice things that some other people don’t necessarily as we work in the labs, we walk the hallways, we teach in the classrooms, some of us also have offices, so we notice things in a lot of different areas.”
She said in conversations with admin staff they learned these issues were also on their radar.
The first step was the Tumblr photo campaign, and that is when issues such as exposed rebar in the buildings came to light. “Exposed rebar, which is less structurally sound when it’s exposed, cracks in the concrete and the cement, lots and lots and lots and lots of leaks all over the place, that can’t actually be repaired, so there’s just garbage cans in the middle of the hallway collecting the water,” said Lane.
She said in some cases, it is not only water leaking into the building but also mold and other things such as insulation.
“Definitely a lot of mold,” said Lane. “Mold growing on walls, mold in walls, which is so challenging because you don’t see it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t become airborne.”
The students are trying to get the attention of the provincial government, which they say has slashed SFU’s maintenance budget. They say six million dollars a year is needed to keep the campus in good repair, but that has been cut and slashed for years.
At its low point, the budget was only half a million dollars.
The students are worried that the damage will only get worse. They may start another photo campaign as there are new problems since those photos were posted.
Lane said they just want to be proud of their school. “We don’t want this to be a story about students complaining about their university,” she said. “We love SFU, as students, we want it stand, we want it to be there 20 years from now, 50 years from now.”
The province recently promised two million dollars for repairs, but its unclear when that cash will materialize.
Check out some photos from the ‘I [Heart] SFU’ campaign:
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