September 5, 2018 10:30 pm
Updated: September 5, 2018 10:34 pm

Student groups blast SFU student union over eviction from meeting spaces

WATCH: The construction of a new student union building at Simon Fraser University is displacing a group dedicated to community and social justice. As Nadia Stewart reports, they're not leaving without a fight.

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Several student groups at Simon Fraser University say they’re facing eviction, and are pointing the finger squarely at the school’s student union.

The Students of Caribbean and African Ancestry (SOCA) has leased a small space in the rotunda of SFU’s Burnaby Campus Student Union Building for more than 20 years, but now say they’re being forced out.

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At issue is a new Student Union Building that is under construction and nearing completion. The $65 million facility was approved in a 2014 student vote, and will create a 100,000 square-foot space.

However, at completion, the old student union space will revert to the University, and SOCA member Giovanni Hosang said space isn’t being made for all groups in the new building.

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“What is happening is that we’re being evicted from this current space and not being allocated space in the new Student Union Building,” he said.

SOCA isn’t the only group facing eviction.

The Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG) is also losing its space, but says it was given the impression that a new space would be made available in the new Student Union Building.

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“We were essentially told by the student society and the university that we would be getting space,” said Craig Pavelich with SFPIRG.

“Then we found out last fall that the student society decided not to provide any of these spaces to the independent societies, but rather to create bookable shared meeting space.”

Both groups have launched petitions protesting the evictions, along with campaigns calling on the Simon Fraser Students Society (SFSS) to re-think its decision.

“It is impossible that as a student union that’s supposed to act on the behalf of all students — regardless of race, regardless of gender — they are actually not standing up for us? It is deplorable,” said Hosang.

The groups have also called on SFU’s administration to intervene.

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Global News sought comment from the SFSS, however, it declined to do an on-camera interview.

In the meantime, Hosang said the student groups facing eviction have no plans to go quietly.

“What they have said to us is that we have to vacate the area Dec. 14, at 12:30 p.m., and we are saying that if we don’t get a space by then, there will be a sit-in,” said Hosang.

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