Building community and a sense of belonging

The building community and a sense of belonging key action area will work to evoke a sense of belonging and connection; ensuring SFU is a welcoming, safe, equitable, and inclusive community for all students; supporting transitions in and out, especially for those coming from different environments and bridging to new ones.

Impact on Student Experience

Initiative Highlights

The Building Community and a Sense of Belonging (BCSB) working group spent most of 2020 adjusting programming to run remotely in virtual environments

Existing projects were revamped for virtual formats, including a community art project to replace murals; a fireside chat program in place of fire pits; online movie parties instead of movie nights; and online game/trivia opportunities within HIVE (Home for Interactive Virtual Engagement) groups to replace the Surrey Games Lounge.

New programming were also developed and implemented to support engagement and the transition needs of new and continuing students such as:

  • Student leader training, the HIVE program, virtual Summer and Fall Welcome Days, and supporting collaborative programming and resource development with partners in faculties and Student Services.
  • All planned in-person events and programs were cancelled due to COVID-19. The BCSB team shifted their attention to support virtual programming to create opportunities for connection, especially at the peer-to-peer level.
  • Under the leadership of the BCSB, SFU hosted virtual Summer and Fall Welcome Days. More than 3,500 people took part in the virtual Fall Welcome Day, which generated more than 4,200 online views on Youtube and Hopin.
  • In collaboration with all eight faculties, this working group developed and launched the HIVE Program within SFU 101. The initiative saw more than 1,200 incoming undergraduates grouped by faculty, time zone, campus and common courses and provided with opportunities to connect. In all more than 1,900 students took part in HIVE activities—the highest SFU 101 participation rates since its inception.
  • Developed and delivered collaborative training for more than 300 student leaders (mentors and welcome leaders) which included new resources and supports around facilitating and supporting students within virtual environments.
  • Throughout September, nine Month of Welcome virtual events were held, including First Friday Carnival, Movie Nights, Coffee Connect and Speed Friending.


For 2021, the focus of the BCSB working group will wrap up the project and consult on lessons learned. They will also make policy recommendations for future student- centered spaces and building community at SFU.

The group will also work with the Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations and other campus partners to find sponsorship for the fire pits in Convocation Mall, the Surrey Games Lounge and the mosaic mural projects. In addition, the team will review other successful BCSB initiatives and will look for opportunities for sustainable resources and funding.

Resources within Student Engagement and Retention will be realigned to support HIVE within SFU101, supporting new student transition and virtual engagement for the years ahead.