How SFU Ancillary Services Has Pivoted Through This Pandemic

This post is a part of a series of blogs provided by Sid Mehta, Senior Director of Ancillary Services at SFU.

The Covid-19 pandemic presents a unique set of challenges for Simon Fraser University, and Ancillary Services are at the forefront of the University response. We have addressed the COVID scenario with innovative & thoughtful solutions and, most notably, with a can-do attitude. With optimism and determination, each of our teams are on the offensive. 

When we're talking about COVID safety for everyone still on campus, physical distancing is always the focal point. Parking and Sutainable Mobility Services immediately transitioned all weekly and monthly parking permits to the Passport Parking Canada app, making their parking system fully digital and contact-free. Parking for students, staff, and faculty has been complementary throughout the summer and fall semesters to relieve financial strain during the pandemic and to continue allowing essential workers to come to campus.

Document Solutions, the campus printing shop, is hard at work, providing physical-distancing signage for SFU and other community members, including Langara Community College. The Spirit Shop had an online storefront up and running two weeks into quarantine: they now ship SFU spirit merchandise everywhere from East Vancouver to Bombay and Tokyo.

The SFU Bookstore reduced course material costs by 40-50% by shifting to a student choice digital service model—the first of it’s kind in Canada. Through this platform, they are offering 80% of the course material digitally. These changes enhance accessibility & affordability for all students, now and in the future. 

Dining Services switched their service to a take-out model and re-engineered their dining space to accommodate distancing signage, all while maintaining their trademark quality service. They've served over 50,000 meals throughout the pandemic and collaborated with various on-campus partners to provide over 1,500 free meals to students in residence to ease potential food insecurity. 

Meeting, Event and Conference Services launched their Virtual platform to host events & conferences. As their first event, they took on the unique challenge of coordinating this year's Week of Welcome for the first years. Usually an in-person affair, they moved it online with 120 virtual 'breakout rooms and above 4,000 attendees. New students are excited to be a part of the Simon Fraser community, even if things look a bit different this year.

Our journey towards a post-COVID world has just begun. Significant changes are never easy, but our Ancillary Services teams have inspired me with their resilience, attitude and willingness to be innovative. Many of the decisions we make today will reflect in a safer and more accessible campus in the future. We are on the offence and are Playing to Win.