Members of the Graduate Student Society at Simon Fraser University are raising concerns about crumbling buildings on the Burnaby campus, alleging that some students and faculty have become ill from the shoddy conditions.
Julia Lane, a PhD candidate and member of the student society, says that many people have reported alarming symptoms that could be caused or worsened by mould and leaky buildings.
“People are talking about headaches, breathing conditions, coughs that have not gone away for the entire winter and it’s particularly concerning for staff that sit there and work nine to five,” Lane says.
Along with other graduate students, Lane documents the degenerating state of SFU buildings on an online photo blog called 'I [Heart] SFU.'
Several years ago, the group asked students to send in photographs of decay and have since received hundreds that clearly show rusting pipes, broken stairs, leaks, cracks in walls and mould deposits.
Pat Hibbitts, vice-president of finance and administration at SFU, admits that many of the buildings on the 49-year-old campus are in rough shape.
Hibbitts says that provincial funding for maintenance has decreased in recent years and SFU is now forced to use money that would usually go to teaching to maintain buildings on campus.
The B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education says it completed a ‘Facility Conditions Assessment” for all public post-secondary institutions in the province and spent $672 million on building maintenance since 2001.
Students at SFU, however, say more preventative action must be taken to avoid health concerns in the future.