School is back in session, and that comes with homework, exams and group projects are a part of life again. But it’s also that time of year where people are meeting new classmates and instructors, making friends and seeing familiar faces after two years online.
This fall semester, more classes are being offered in-person at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, which means more services are available for new and returning students through the university and the Kwantlen Student Association, a non-profit organization that provides services for KPU students.
During lockdowns due to the pandemic, some services were eliminated or moved virtually to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff.
It can be difficult to know what services are offered again as a returning student, or difficult to find as a new student. Here are some of the unique services that are offered at KPU to start your year on the right foot.
Indigenous Services for Students
For those new to KPU, the university takes its name from the Kwantlen First Nation — Kwantlen meaning “Tireless Runner.” The five campuses land on the unceded traditional and ancestral lands of the Kwantlen, Musqueam, Semiahmoo, Katzie, Tsawwassen, Qay’Qayt and Kwikwetlem peoples.
At KPU, one of the unique services offered are Indigenous Services for Students, which includes the Gathering Place, an Elder in Residence and a Ceremonial Mace.
In 2010, the Gathering Place opened at the Surrey campus, which supports social and educational activities between KPU and First Nation communities. The goal of the facility is to “create an inviting gathering place for all students,” according to KPU’s website.
The Gathering Place is where students and faculty can come together to appreciate and learn about Indigenous communities. It consists of various pieces of Indigenous inspired art.
KPU also offers an Elder in Residence program, where students can request to speak to Lekeyten of Kwantlen First Nation. In January 2015, Lekeyten was announced as the university’s first Elder in Residence.
The goal of the program is to “support and encourage Indigenous students on their educational journey,” reads KPU’s website.
When students graduate KPU, a Ceremonial Mace made out of wood is part of the Convocation ceremony. Today, a mace in academic settings is used as a symbol of the university holding the power to award degrees and diplomas. Although it isn’t a program or service offered at KPU, it shows the importance of First Nation communities to the university.
At the Surrey, Richmond, Langley and Cloverdale campuses, the university offers a variety of library services for students to use. One such service is creating a student ID card, which gives students access to borrow the library’s books, equipment, and printing and scanning services.
Also known as the KPU Card, students get their card by applying online through the KPU Card Submission Form. From there, students sign in through the OSS Portal and most of the information will be there for you. Students can choose what campus to pick up from and submit a photo to go along with the card.
Equipment rentals are another service offered at the KPU libraries. Students can borrow various equipment including laptops, voice recorders, cameras, bluetooth speakers and HDMI adapters for computers by filling out a request form.
Students can also book private study rooms at the campus libraries. This can be helpful for students who want to study in a quiet space individually or work on a group project.
According to KPU’s website, students can pick which campus they want to go to, which room they would like, and the date. Students have the option to pick a tech room as well, which comes with an LCD screen that can be connected to a KPU computer, personal laptop through a HDMI cable or from a mobile device.
The rooms can only be booked once per day for a minimum of 30 minutes to a maximum of two hours.
While the study rooms can be a good spot to concentrate, the Surrey campus library offers three floors with each level designated to sound. The first floor is for regular speaking, the second floor for whispering and small talk, and the third floor is a quiet space to focus on homework or study for exams.
Other physical resources the Surrey library offers are the KPU Archives, which collect and preserve various materials in relation to the history of the university. They also offer the library resource space χʷəχʷéy̓əm, which means “oral storytelling” in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓, the Downriver dialect of the broader language Halkomelem. It has Indigenous books, art, and fabric mostly from British Columbia with items displayed on circular shelving.
The library also offers multiple free streaming video databases for students like Criterion on Demand, which streams popular films ranging from action, romance, to horror. Other online streaming platforms they offer are Canada’s National Film Board, Films on Demand and Curio.ca. These can be helpful for research essays on certain topics or other types of projects.
The Learning Centre
Located in the KPU libraries, the Learning Centre offers students help in their homework, improving their skills like writing and time management, and preparing for exams. Student tutors, learning strategists, and group workshops are some of the services offered virtually.
Students can book a tutor or learning strategist through TutorOcean and fill out a form to request to attend a workshop. The centre also offers Teach Yourself Resources which include how to set up your student email, Moodle and join a real-time class on Big Blue Button or Zoom, as well as Available Anytime Workshops.
For new and returning students, the Learning Centre can be a great tool to improve writing, time management skills, and how to establish good study habits for future classes.
KPU’s Accessibility Services has learning specialists who help students create personalized plans to ensure student academic success. There are several different accommodations personalized for each student.
Exam accommodations for when a student has a quiz, test or exam include writing the exam in a “distraction-reduced environment.” This can mean a different room, sometimes within the Accessibility Services area. Students can also get extended time to write the exam, a computer or “assistive technology” like text-to-speech, a Scribe or Reader, and a calculator, formula sheet or memory aid.
Students are eligible for exam accommodations if they have a disability impacting processing speed, written output, attention, sight, memory, stamina or dexterity, according to the KPU website.
Instructors can offer different evaluation methods or tools for assessment, flexible options for students to complete exams, and inform students about Accessibility Services to support exam accommodations.
Students can also have note taking accommodations for ease of preparing for tests to help understand difficult concepts or ideas. Note taking can be an exchange of notes between students or an instructor, or include an audio recording of a lecture. Students could also be accommodated through the use of a laptop.
Eligible students for note taking accommodations include those with a disability that impacts their ability to hear, summarize, write quickly, or multitask, according to the KPU website. Instructors can support this accommodation by offering their lecture notes to their students.
Accessibility Services can also help students arrange accommodations for their service animals and emotional support animals. This includes service animals that are trained to “perform work or tasks to benefit a person with a disability” and emotional support animals that have been prescribed by a licensed mental health professional.
For students that are allergic or afraid of animals, Accessibility Services’ website notes they can offer assistance to those students as well.
A student with a disability that impacts attendance, concentration, focus, communication or social interaction may be eligible for group work accommodations. Group work accommodations can include direct instruction or resources, participate virtually or asynchronously or substituting with an independent project instead.
The Accessibility Services’ website suggests instructors incorporate choices into group work, such as timing, location, in-person or virtual work to support their students.
The KSA offers many services to students on and off campus.
The Grassroots Cafe is located at the Surrey campus in the Cedar building. They offer a variety of different healthy food options like salads and wraps, as well as burgers. The cafe also offers coffee and KPU’s beer from the Brewing and Brewery Operations program on tap. Students receive a five per cent discount.
The KSA also has a Food Bank, which provides a “supply of emergency food relief for current KPU students,” according to their website.
Students can fill out their online request form and it will ask for details such as your name, student email, if you are in full time or part time studies and where you would like to pick up the package. They qualify for two non-perishable food hampers per month and can apply every two weeks.
At the Surrey, Richmond, Langley, and Cloverdale campuses, the KSA has 10 bicycle lockers to rent with a damage deposit of $20 and are on a first-come first-serve basis. Students can bring their deposit either in cash or through cheque to any KSA Member Services office and sign the bicycle locker agreement. Students can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Other services the KSA offers is the extended dental and health plan through Gallivan, discounts through SPUD, discounted fitness passes through Club16 and She’s Fit, and $10 Go-Kart passes through TBC Racing.
Whether you are new or returning to campus this semester, be sure to check out some of the unique services and benefits at KPU.