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Celebrating 50 years: SFU’s charter students - Vancouver Sun

September 18, 2015 - by Shawn Conner, The Vancouver Sun

In 1965, Simon Fraser University opened its doors to the public, and Trudy Desjardine was in the first cohort to enrol at SFU. Even before SFU had finished its buildings, Trudy’s father, who at the time was on the Burnaby city council, would take her up to the campus to see its growth. You could say that she saw the university come to life – literally and was destined to be a student here.

“It was such an exciting time,” Trudy recalls of SFU’s entrance into education. “Everything was so new. We were all tripping over construction workers. There were only three sides to the quadrangle. Everything in the middle was mud. ”

On September 9, 2015, SFU celebrated the beginning of its 50th anniversary. Among the festivities that Trudy attended, was an outdoor event for charter students.

Trudy’s educational path began in modern languages studying French and Spanish before transferring into education. “I truly believe that the [Faculty of] Education department was years and years ahead of its time,” said Trudy.

Trudy was also thrilled that SFU had more to offer than simply academics. “I had come from an all-girls school, so the boys were pretty exciting. I ran for student council. I didn’t get it, but I started the tour service. We took celebrities and different people on tours.”

“I was secretary of the chess club. I didn’t know how to play chess, but there were a lot of guys in the club. I went out with a football player and I played basketball, so I was very involved in the sports programs up there. It was really a fabulous program.”

It was more than living in Burnaby that made Trudy want to attend SFU. “I think we all picked up the school’s vision of wanting to be something different. It didn’t take long once we were on campus and taking classes to realize it was going to be something great. There was a feeling of being pioneers, so there was a real camaraderie amongst the students.”

Another charter student, Sandy Wilson, also remembers those early years in the late 1960s.

“There was a strike in the cafeteria. I remember that one,” Sandy said. “I didn’t understand what the strike was all about. But there were no other places to get food. And I was there when we occupied the administration building. The students wanted to have a bit more of a say in the classes that were offered and the way the university was run.”

Fashions, and values, changed quite suddenly.

“When we started up, in 1965, me and the other girls just wanted to be cheerleaders, and the big status thing was football. And then within a couple of years, natural and flowers and love beads were in,” she said.

As part of the university, the Faculty of Education was one of the original three founding Faculties. Fifty years later, the Faculty of Education continues to be a leader in innovation within academic and research circles as well as within communities. As an original charter student, Trudy Desjardine has helped in continuing the university’s promise of engaging communities and engaging the world.

The full article was published in the Vancouver Sun on September 4, 2015 and written by Shawn Conner, Special to The Sun.

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