It was established in 1965 as part of the post-Sputnik boom in universities. Simon Fraser University was named after Simon Fraser, explorer of the Vancouver area. The library on the main campus is called the W. A. C. Bennett Library, after the Social Credit Premier of B.C. who established it. (Like most Canadian universities, S.F.U. is a public university.)
From its inception, S.F.U. had a reputation for radicalness. Its first years witnessed a number of teach-ins and sit-ins that caused quite a bit of instability. Though this reputation has waned over the years, one can still occasionally hear the university and its students referred to as "the Marxists on the Hill."
Simon Fraser University has 3 campuses: Its main campus in Burnaby, a satellite campus at Vancouver's Downtown at Harbour Centre, and the new SFU Surrey campus. TechBC, a technical university created by the BC NDP government, was dismantled and given to SFU, now known as SFU Surrey. The main campus is located atop Burnaby Mountain. At present, the bulk of Burnaby Mountain is a park (apart from S.F.U. and associated industrial/technical park Discovery Park, there has been little development). However, the university has plans for housing and commercial development atop the mountain. The planned name is Univercity.
S.F.U.'s main campus' relatively remote location has long posed a transportation problem for its student body. This situation has, however, been significantly improved by the recent expansion of Vancouver's Skytrain rapid transit system. There is now a Skytrain station at the base of the mountain. (The downtown Harbour Centre campus is quite close to the Waterfront Skytrain station.) Most Simon Fraser students are commuters who live in the area, but there are also a few small residence housing facilities, mostly for international students.
The student newspaper The Peak was established soon after the university opened, and is widely circulated throughout the Lower Mainland]. The school's sports teams are called the Clansmen and the mascot is a Scottish Terrier. The university's bagpipe band performs well in international competitions and is one of the university's most famous attractions. In sports and other competitions, there tends to be a strong rivalry between SFU and The University of British Columbia.
Teaching Assistants, Tutor Markers, Sessional Instructors, and Language Instructors at S.F.U. are unionized. The union, The Teaching Support Staff Union (T.S.S.U.) is in dependant.
The university has an archeological museum and three art galleries.