Letter: Burnaby SFU's fees, hikes unfair during pandemic

Editor:

Some people may not be aware that Simon Fraser University is putting their students under undue financial stress during this already difficult time.
The end of the spring 2020 semester was difficult. I was among the students who found it taking a large toll on my mental health.

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I was forced to take the summer 2020 semester off to recuperate and collect myself, hoping SFU would do the same and create a caring, compassionate system that would support its students.

This has not been the case.
Not only has SFU continued with tuition increases as scheduled, but they have charged the student body full price for their “student activity fees” which cover events and fitness services such as gyms and pools which are not available to us. They have also failed to negotiate an opt-in program with TransLink for the UPass, despite remote learning being the primary form of education.
This hurts on multiple levels. It reaffirms what many of my SFU peers and I have felt - that SFU as an institution is not a supportive community where students are seen as human beings, but rather as units to be churned through the system to maximize efficiency and financial gain.

During this time when paid jobs are hard to come by, this is especially painful for us as students.
Other post-secondary institutions are supporting their students. Douglas College and the University of British Columbia have decreased student fees for this semester, and Thompson River University has cut its student activity fees by 25% despite its facilities being open. Douglas College was also able to negotiate a UPass exemption for all of its students during this semester of remote learning.
I have twice sent a letter outlining my concerns and request for action to (SFU), Minister for Advanced Education Melanie Mark and the deputy minister, Shannon Baskerville.

None have responded to my emails.
I don’t think I am asking for anything outrageous. I ask that student activity fees for this semester be deferred until the student body can use the facilities that they’re paying for and the student activity fees we’ve paid for this semester to be refunded. I ask that SFU to go to bat for its students against TransLink to get us an opt-in system.

Finally, I ask that the administration freeze tuition increases, refunding us the tuition increase they charged us for this semester, until our education can be delivered in the way in which it was intended.
We are captive consumers. I ask that we be treated as though our customer satisfaction really matters. If you went to buy a car, paid full price, and then got a car with only two tires, you’d be asking for a refund.
It is demoralizing to be forced to choose between delaying our education and shouldering unnecessary costs. So much of our future hinges on our post-secondary education.

We are needing to dedicate more time and energy to our studies, revamping our learning techniques in order to maintain our GPAs in this new system, while job losses and significant decreases in working hours cause us financial hardship.
SFU started a #SFUInThisTogether campaign earlier this summer, but until the student body is treated with respect and fairness, nothing could be further from the truth.
Aliya Boulanger

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