A guide to the initiatives and services available at KPU this fall

Here is everything you need to know for the new semester

The fall semester has arrived at KPU, and various services are available to new and returning students. (Nyamat Singh)

The fall semester has arrived at KPU, and various services are available to new and returning students. (Nyamat Singh)

With the fall semester now here, classes are back in session at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s five campuses. Besides attending classes, working on assignments, and studying for exams, there are services and initiatives available at KPU that students should be aware of to aid their university experience.

This is a guide to some of the initiatives and services, along with what they mean for new and returning students this fall.


Indigenous student initiatives and services

KPU takes its name from the Kwantlen First Nation — Kwantlen meaning “Tireless Runner.” 

Starting this semester, KPU will waive tuition fees for new and returning students who are members of the seven local First Nations which are the Kwantlen, Katzie, Semiahmoo, Musqueam, Tsawwassen, Qayqayt, and Kwikwetlem peoples.

The waiver, announced on June 20, is a part of the university’s goals to advance truth and reconciliation.

“Education is fundamental to reconciliation,” said KPU President and Vice-Chancellor Alan Davis in a press release. 

“We are committed to creating new opportunities and a welcoming environment for Indigenous students in higher education. Offering free tuition to eligible students continues KPU’s efforts to have open and generative partnerships with Indigenous communities.”

The university also released the xéʔelɬ KPU Pathway to Systemic Transformation the same day as the tuition waiver announcement. 

xéʔelɬ, which means pathways in the hən̓ q̓ əmin̓ əm̓ language, is the university’s response to the calls to action from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the calls for justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQ+ people, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The framework has 60 goals, divided into six pathways. “Indigenous Voices Matter” and “Reflecting Upon Our Own Biases” are among the pathways in the framework.

Indigenous students can also access services and resources. The Gathering Place, which is located at the Surrey campus, is a space for all students to gather “in an environment that recognizes the important contribution” of the local and all other Indigenous Nations, reads KPU’s website.

For Indigenous students who want to attend engagement events, the Gathering Place’s Facebook page features announcements for events happening on-campus, virtually, and in the community.

Lekeyten of the Kwantlen First Nation is the Elder-in-residence at KPU. Available by appointment, his role is to support and encourage Indigenous students during their studies and share traditional knowledge and culture.


KPU Library

Starting in September, KPU’s libraries in Surrey, Richmond, Langley, and Cloverdale will start loaning Dell laptops to students on a daily, first-come, first-serve basis. In the past, students would borrow laptops for a semester at a time.

“Daily loans ensure laptops are available to students in the moments when they are needed most,” reads the KPU Library website.

For students not able to get a laptop due to the limited supply, the computers in the libraries can be used. Students can also borrow other equipment like cameras, microphones, and bluetooth speakers through an online request form.

Each library also has study rooms that students can book online and use for up to two hours a day. The floors on the Surrey campus are also separated based on volume levels. The first floor is for regular speaking, the second floor is meant to be quiet, and the third floor is a silent zone.

When it comes to finding books, ebooks, journals, films, and more, students can use the Summon Search to locate the materials they need from the libraries’ collection.


The Learning Centres

The Learning Centres allow students to book student tutors, learning strategists, and English language help through TutorOcean, as well as access online education resources and tools. 

Each campus has a learning centre located in the library, while Langley’s in Room 2070 and Civic Plaza is in Room 606. 

The centres also offer virtual and in-person workshops throughout the year on topics such as improving sentence structure, overcoming procrastination, and basic computer skills for students. If students are unable to attend live workshops, there are “available anytime” workshops on the Learning Centres website, which are self-paced and completely online.


Zero Textbook Cost initiative

The Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) initiative allows students to complete over 950 course sections by using library and open educational resources instead of buying textbooks. The ZTC initiative launched in 2018 to help remove barriers for students in accessing a university education, which was the first of its kind in Canada, according to KPU.

KPU also offers eight credentials that do not require students to buy textbooks, which includes the bachelor in interior design and associate of arts in sociology.

ZTC courses may still require students to make other purchases apart from textbooks, like equipment, supplies, and studio fees.


Accessibility Services

Accessibility Services serve about five per cent of students, according to KPU. The department works with “students who require personalized plans to ensure access to the [university] and success in achieving academic goals,” reads the KPU website.

They collaborate with students and instructors to create accommodation plans, which can include making course materials more accessible and ensuring students have the necessary equipment for their classes. Accessibility Services also helps students applying for disability-related funding, transitioning from high school, and accessing additional services.

The department is conducting a review of two policies. ST14 Services for Students with Disabilities Policy, which covers academic accommodations for students with disabilities, is up for revision, while ST15 Student Access to Interpreting Services Policy, which is an eligibility criteria for accessing interpreting services, is facing a proposed elimination.

During the fall, Accessibility Services will be consulting with the KPU community to help inform the policy review, and updates will be posted on the KPU Policy Blog, according to a document sent to The Runner from Joshua Mitchell, associate vice-president of student affairs.


Office of Anti-Racism

The Office of Anti-Racism launched in 2022 after it was one of 64 recommendations in a final report on anti-racism, which was submitted by a task force of faculty, staff, administrators, and students that same year. The task force found “historic and ongoing racism exists within and beyond KPU,” according to the report.

Other recommendations in the report include creating an anti-racism research scholarship program for students, hiring counsellors with anti-racist and anti-oppressive backgrounds to support students, and offering guidance and support to help create a BIPOC student caucus.

English instructor Asma Sayed leads the office as associate vice-president of anti-racism. Sayed told The Runner in June that she is moving forward with some of the major recommendations and is asking departments which ones they would like to prioritize.

The office is meant to address systemic barriers in the KPU community, while also strengthening student and faculty understanding of race, racism, and anti-racism, according to KPU website.


KDocsFF Social Justice Lab

Located in Cedar 3024 at KPU Surrey, the KDocsFF Social Justice Lab will fully open this September for students, faculty, and staff in groups no larger than 10 to work on social justice-themed projects.

The workspace has 3-D and colour printers, two Mac computers with Final Cut Pro editing software, a portable projector, social justice documentary DVDs that can be checked out, a button maker, along with knitting and beading supplies. Participants can use the equipment to create “artifacts that can be brought back to the classroom as supplements to lectures, readings, group work, debates, demonstrations, gamifications, and presentations,” reads a press release.

Criminology instructor Tara Lyons will officially launch the lab with a two-session workshop called the “Radical Queer Knitting Circle” on Sept. 21 and Sept. 26 in Cedar 3024 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.

KDocsFF is KPU’s social justice documentary film festival. English instructor Greg Chan is the director of the lab and KDocsFF community outreach.

To book the lab, interested participants can complete an online intake form or email greg.chan@kpu.ca.


Sports & Recreation

This fall, the Sports & Recreation department will host weekly fitness classes from 12:05 to 12:55 pm at KPU Surrey and Richmond.

There will be classes in hatha yoga, a traditional style of yoga, at the Lotus Studio in Richmond on Tuesdays and at the gymnasium in Surrey on Mondays and Fridays. According to the department’s fall activity guide, there will also be kickboxing classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Surrey campus, which runs for six weeks at a time and requires pre-registration by emailing sportrec@kpu.ca to sign up.

Students can attend classes by paying a $5 drop-in fee or buying a Flex Pass for $15, which covers 10 classes and is valid for six months. Flex Passes are available at the Sports & Recreation desk in KPU Surrey, or from the Richmond or Langley bookstores. Students do not need to pay for their first class, and some classes may have additional fees.

Free Fitness Week runs from Sept. 11 to 15, where all classes will be free.

There are also fitness centres at the Surrey, Langley, and Cloverdale campuses. Students can access the spaces and workout equipment for free with their student IDs.

Students can also join a fall intramural league at KPU Surrey for $20 per sport. Badminton, basketball, volleyball, and indoor soccer are the sports available, and students can register in-person at the Sports & Recreation desk by Sept. 22.

Students can access the gymnasium at KPU Surrey for free during open gym hours by following monthly schedules posted on the Sports & Recreation website. There will also be free tournaments in dodgeball on Oct. 13 and doubles badminton on Nov. 17 at the gymnasium, which will both run from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.


Free menstrual products

KPU announced in February that free menstrual products will be available in all campus washrooms. The products are in dispensers in the women’s, men’s, and universal washrooms, so self-identifying women, trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people can access them.

“We wanted to make sure these were free of charge to anyone who needed menstrual products,” said David Stewart, executive director of KPU Facilities Services, in a press release. 

“We have signs accompanying the dispensers to make sure users understand that they are barrier free and available to everyone.”

Before this decision, students who menstruate could purchase products at the bookstore or request them at the Kwantlen Student Association office.


KSA services and initiatives

The KSA offers a number of services for students. KSA Member Services offices are located at each campus and provide students with perks, including free locker rentals and discounts to businesses like Cineplex movie theatres and Club16 fitness centres.

Students can also access the KSA Food Bank, a free emergency food hamper every two weeks on-campus by completing an online request form, according to the KSA website.

KPU students can also use carpooling services such as Poparide and Liftango through the KSA, where students can match with carpoolers in the KPU community. 

Abdullah Randhawa, president and vice president university affairs at the KSA, says the association will also host regular “engaging motions” to encourage students to come to campus and spend time with their friends. He says the KSA is planning a Halloween party for students to dress up and possibly collaborating with KPU International for a Diwali event.

The KSA is also working on extending KPU Library hours.

“We are trying our best to make it 24/7 for the exam period,” Randhawa says. “I’ve been in discussions with Todd [Mundle], our librarian, along with our advocacy partner, John [O’Brian]. We’ve been working on this [initiative]. We’re asking them to make it 24/7 during the exam period, and they’re working on it.”

While students pay for KSA services through their tuition, Randhawa says most students do not know about or use them. In response, he says the association is developing an app that students can download with the services available. In the meantime, students can learn about the KSA through social media and on their website.

Students can also keep up with the association through council and committee meetings and by reaching out directly.

“If they have any questions, they can come to our office and then ask us anything they want to. And if that doesn’t work, they can send us an email, and we’ll get back to them as soon as possible,” Randhawa says.