June 14, 2024

Dear SFU Community,

As representatives of the undergraduate student body at Simon Fraser University, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) is deeply troubled by the ongoing reduction in SFU staff and particularly the recent layoffs impacting nearly 100 employees, including instructors, administrative support staff, and custodial workers across all three campuses. We stand in solidarity with those affected and recognize the profound impact this decision has on them, their families, students, and the entire SFU community.

We call on the SFU administration to provide greater transparency regarding the decision-making process that led to these layoffs. The lack of consultation with key stakeholders, including students, is unacceptable. We demand a clear and detailed explanation of the criteria used for these decisions and how they align with the university’s long-term strategic goals.

These layoffs are not just numbers on a balance sheet; they represent a significant erosion of the support structures that enhance our learning environment. The reduction in essential services such as academic advising, co-op support, and health and counseling services directly undermines the quality of education and support that SFU has a duty to provide.

Temporary adjustments in operational needs should not lead to permanent job losses, especially when they result in the loss of institutional knowledge and capacity that takes years to build. The decision to eliminate these positions is a short-sighted approach that fails to consider the long-term morale and institutional capacity of our university. The impact of these layoffs will be fully felt in the fall, potentially straining our academic and support systems further.

We emphasize that it is the university’s responsibility, not the student society’s, to ensure the provision of critical services that support our academic journey. While the SFSS is committed to supporting students, these measures are stopgaps and do not replace the comprehensive support that the university must provide.

SFU has a responsibility to its community not only as an educational institution but also as a cultural and economic center in British Columbia. The university’s role in supporting programs across the province and fostering a vibrant campus culture must be preserved. Cutting positions and programs, such as Woodward’s Cultural Programs, English Language Culture Program, and Interpretation & Translation Program, significantly diminishes SFU’s ability to fulfill this role.

We urge the SFU administration to explore alternative solutions that do not compromise the quality of education and support services. Investing in student life, community engagement, and academic expression is essential to improving both domestic and international student enrollments. We also call for better management of program endowments to ensure financial stability and continuity of valuable programs.

The SFSS is calling on the provincial government and SFU to collaborate and reassess the situation in order to protect students, workers, and the entire SFU community by:

  • Securing more funding and support for post-secondary institutions to ensure essential staff, services, and programs are not cut due to budgetary pressures.
  • Developing a strategic plan to increase enrollment through new academic programs and partnerships.
  • Enhancing fundraising efforts and alumni engagement to create new revenue streams specifically earmarked for maintaining and improving student services.
  • Introducing a temporary freeze on non-essential hiring and bonuses for top administrators until financial stability is restored.
  • Strengthening mental health and wellness support by reallocating resources to ensure that students have adequate access to these essential services during this transitional period.

The SFSS remains committed to advocating for the interests of our students and holding the university accountable for decisions that impact our learning environment. We will continue to push for transparency, accountability, and a commitment to preserving the highest quality of education and support at SFU. Together, we can work towards a stronger, more resilient university that truly serves its community.

In solidarity,
Simon Fraser Student Society