KPU Student Groups Share Plans for Supporting Student Life Off-Campus

The Runner asked clubs and campus groups what they’re doing to keep student life afloat from home

(Kristen Frier)

A list of active KPU clubs is available on the Kwantlen Student Association’s website, but only some of them responded to The Runner’s interview request before press time. Here are the lightly edited transcripts from our conversations with everyone who got back to us, so you know who’s available to support students during this uniquely challenging semester.

Coco Shabbir, Leader of KPU Japan Club

The Runner: How has the pandemic affected your group?
Shabbir: It’s kind of fine. When we first reinstated this club last year, our intent was to make it so that it catered more to university students on campus. We only reinstated last fall, so then in the middle of spring semester, everything had to be online, and it’s kind of been a learning curve but I think we have something going now.

What does the KPU Japan Club have planned for the semester?
We’re trying to start weekly Japanese language study sessions. A lot of our interactions are via email and polls. We’re also trying to start a weekly movie night where we watch Japanese movies with subtitles. That will be happening through Discord.

What else would you like students to know about the KPU Japan Club?
If you’re interested in Japanese culture, any aspect of Japanese culture, and you want to talk to other people that are also interested in that, this is the place to be. It’s a very open learning environment. Any engagement that we do have, everybody is very nice, very kind. That’s what we try to push for. The goal is mostly to create a fun, safe environment to express all of your interests in regards to Japan. You can teach people new things that they didn’t know because Japanese culture is very vast and multifaceted.

Priya Mishra, President of Kwantlen Pageturners

How has the pandemic affected your group?
When the spring shutdown happened, we were lucky enough to be able to have our mid-semester event about a week beforehand. We usually have a movie night in the middle of each semester, so we haven’t been able to do that since because it’s just too hard to do it online, but we’ve been pretty good about keeping the basic club activities going. We read one book a semester, so we were able to do that over the summer semester. We are meeting virtually over Discord.

What does your group have planned for this semester?
We’ll probably be reading one more book for this semester, which we haven’t decided on yet. We’ll be doing that over the next couple weeks and then we’ll meet up at the end of the semester to discuss it, but no events or anything, unfortunately.

What else would you like students to know about the Kwantlen Pageturners?
We are still really active. We do have discussions, and we chit chat over the Discord group, which has been really fun. There have been lots of interactions between members and a lot of friendships being formed, which is really great. I kind of wish I had made a Discord beforehand.
Since we are a pretty low-key club, we don’t do regular meetings, only at the end of semesters. So before setting up a Discord chat, it has been a little bit harder for people to make friends through the club. This way has been a lot easier, actually.

Wajeeha Rahman, President of the Muslim Student Association

How has the pandemic affected your group?
This pandemic has affected our group in terms of adapting to the changes of our events. We originally had planned our annual event that was to take place in May, 2020 called the Ramadan Iftar. Once registration opened, we actually had to close it down right after due to COVID, and this was a really big loss for us as it was one of our big events. We had expected around 100 people attending, and we really had to look for back-up on what to do next.

What does the Muslim Student Association have planned for this semester?
We are planning to collaborate with a couple other clubs to get our numbers, events, and interest from the students up. We are hoping to hold virtual charity events, partnering with the multi-faith centre and other clubs to really emphasize recruitment and showcase that we are here.
We recognize that fall is the time when a lot of new students — first-year students — are coming in and are unsure of what clubs are out there or which activities they can join. We want to give them a sense of community and belonging with our club and put ourselves out there through the charity events and give an introduction of ourselves through virtual means.

What else would you like students to know about the Muslim Student Association?
I would like students to know that we are a very inclusive group, and we really do appreciate everyone’s unique point of view.
There are opportunities within our team. You can go from being a student or member to building yourself up to an executive. You have the opportunity to build your volunteer hours and gain those references that can be used for your future opportunities, whatever career path you want to go on.
And all in all, you get to have a chance to make a difference in the community. We participate in a lot of charity events, and also events to really give back to the KPU community and the local community as well.

Chelsea Franz, Organizer of the Kwantlen Poetry Project

How has the pandemic affected your group?
It’s been a big impact. We had a lot planned right before everything went chaotic in terms of workshops and events. Like a lot of other groups and a lot of other events and things running right now, we’re all online. And like everything, there’s the good and the bad. I try not to dwell too much on the things that we’ve lost.
We were still able to go on and have our events and continue, so that is like the little light. The other tiny little silver lining of this whole thing is the booking process of who I am able to feature — because our events always have a feature poet. And it’s usually someone either local or someone who is touring and in the area, but now because we are online, I have my pick of all the wonderful Canadian poets I know scattered across Turtle Island.

What does Kwantlen Poetry Project have planned for this semester?
Our monthly events are continuing, right now, once a month. We are having a workshop in October, and that’s everything planned for now for this fall season. I might throw in another workshop in December, but we’ll see how things go and how much energy people have to participate.
Follow us on Instagram (@kwantlenpoetryproject), that’s where we post all our events, and we’re the most active there.

What else would you like students to know about Kwantlen Poetry Project?
If any of it speaks to you or poetry sounds cool at all, you should come out. And don’t be shy or intimidated because it’s not scary. We’re not a slam anymore. We changed that over this past year to get back to the community and the healing and the true nature of what art should be with truth-telling and loving each other.
We’re all there just to share our truths and share our words and connect in this weird, strange time that we’re all going through.

Erin Pedersen, Sustainability Coordinator of Sustainable KSA

How has the pandemic affected your group?
Similar to most KSA departments, we’ve obviously had to pivot away from on-campus events. The COVID closure started sort of in the middle of our March ecoDAYS event so we were unable to complete that and we essentially have had no in-person event since March. Some of our ongoing initiatives have been able to continue. The Kwantlen St. Farmers Market in Richmond was able to operate because it’s considered an essential service. Our campus garden is still operating as well.

What does Sustainable KSA have planned for the semester?
For this semester, we have a few things that we’re sort of continuing from the summer semester but we have quite a few new things coming up as well. We also have a couple of promotions that have started. One is a partnership with SPUD, which stands for sustainable produce urban delivery. Students can email and get a free $25 gift card to put towards their grocery order. We’re hoping to soon start a similar partnership with a houseplant delivery service. We are also sponsoring students to attend the virtual global conference on sustainability and higher education. The conference is happening at the end of October.
We’ll be participating in KSA Welcome Week. We are also working with groups from UBC and SFU to put on a sustainability career night, and the theme is going to be equity and sustainability.

What else would you like students to know about Sustainable KSA?
I really want students to take advantage of all the things that we’re providing them. It’s coming out of student fees and … [it] benefits [students]. These resources are available, and [students] should take advantage of them. We definitely want to make the time better and easier for students.

Sarah Oduro, President of the Kwantlen Christian Fellowship

How has the pandemic affected your group?
It’s a bit more difficult to connect with other people especially. We talked about the new members coming into the group and how we’re going to connect with them. It’s difficult to be more hands-on with the club in general, as a whole.
Reconnecting and meeting with everyone has been challenging. Before the pandemic, we were meeting on campus. We would have weekly chapel meetings and, of course, that would help with building our space, just spending time together with other believers.
Having activities where we can all meet — that’s what has been a challenge.

What does the Kwantlen Christian Fellowship have planned for this semester?
So far we’re thinking in October we could do either an online movie night or a pumpkin patch trip, we’re not too sure which. For the movie night, we can do that from the comfort of our own homes and connect in that way. So far, that’s what we’ve got down.
We are going to formulate the club through Zoom meetings. That’s where we’ve decided would be most appropriate and convenient.

What else would you like students to know about the Kwantlen Christian Fellowship?
To the students coming in or whoever wants to know, just know that we’re a very open group. We’re very welcoming of everyone regardless of your denomination. Even if you have questions about Christianity or your faith, and maybe if you are someone who has departed from your faith and you just want to build on that again, or if you just feel lost as a whole, this is a place where it’s come one, come all. We want to encourage you. This is a safe space, a safe place.
The main ways you can contact us are through our email ( or through our Instagram page (@kwantlenchristianfellowship).

Stephanie Bulman, President of the KPU Sustainable Agriculture Student Association

How has the pandemic affected your group?
We still try to get together through either social media or email, but we haven’t really been able to meet in person, of course, so it’s been a lot of Zoom calls. Over the summer, we were really just trying to make sure we had enough members and that everyone was written up so that they were actually part of the program.

What does the KPU Sustainable Agriculture Student Association have planned for the semester?
We usually have a lot of conferences that start in late September, early October and then quite a few in the spring semester, but because everything needs to be online, we’re still trying to make sure that any of these are even happening. So that’s a little bit on pause right now. We go to the KPU farm every so often to stay in touch, but we haven’t put together any actual events for the students yet.

What else would you like students to know about the KPU Sustainable Agriculture Student Association?
We’re a really awesome, open, fun club to be a part of. You don’t really have to be part of the sustainability agriculture program in order to just come and sit in on the meetings and see what’s happening. We just really want to raise awareness with our program.


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