An overview of the students union
The Students’ Union is an organization that represents Laurier students across both Waterloo and Brantford campuses. As student fees help fund the Students’ Union, all undergraduate students are automatically members of the Union upon registration.
The programming, services and representation provided by the Students’ Union are implemented for students to be used by students as an opportunity to take the university experience out of the classroom.
“We represent the entire undergraduate student population on both campuses … All of our efforts, whether it’s advocacy or programming are directed at all students. It’s not any sort of niche, it’s literally all students, no matter what program they’re in, as long as they’re an undergraduate student,” explained Megan Spenler, President and CEO of Laurier’s Students’ Union.
The Students’ Union is broken into four departments: Clubs and Associations, Financial and Volunteer Operations, Programming and Services, and Government and Stakeholder Relations. Each department has a vice president that reports to Spenler.
“The Students’ Union represents all clubs on campus. All of them fall underneath our umbrella,” said Spenler.
“… we run orientation week entirely for all first year students. And then we continue our programming efforts throughout the entire year with weekly and monthly events, we always try to engage with students,” Spenler explained in regard to Programming and Services. “We also have a ton of services, we have our own food bank, we have food patrol, we have an emergency response team, there’s lots of services available to students …”
“We also do advocacy work at the provincial and federal levels, that is our Government Stakeholder Relations team … students are facing a lot of issues outside the classroom, and we are very aware of that at the Students’ Union, so that department has only gotten busier over the last couple of years,” continued Spenler.
“Every student has the opportunity to volunteer with the Students’ Union, starting from the minute they step on campus. They could volunteer with the food bank, on Shinerama and they could be on A-Team which is the activities team. We have a lot going on from that given point,” said Spenler about the Financial and Volunteer Operations department.
“Our mission at the end of the day is just to improve the student experience outside of the classroom,” added Spenler.
Along with the Students’ Union departments, the organization also follows fundamental goals and policies.
Mohammad Abu-Rshaid, Chair of the Board & Chief Governance Officer, outlines the Ends policy, “The organization exists to represent, advocate for, and support the primary stakeholders, the students of Wilfrid Laurier University, and to provide them with a holistic university experience and an enhanced student life. These costs of these benefits will be justified by the results. In no specific order of priority, students will benefit from, and this is our four overarching goals of the organization. An organization that advocates for an affordable, accessible, and high-quality experience, a safe, sustainable, and empowering environment, diverse and inclusive social interaction, and products and services that cater to the financial needs of students.”
Students’ Union board meetings are held throughout the year to discuss aspects of the organization.
“All of our board meetings are open until we have a closed session. Feel free to come in and sit in, and during question periods, ask questions. … I would highly encourage, especially the students who are very interested in student issues. Come in. We’re very friendly,” added Abu-Rshaid.
“We are looking for two vacant director spots. … I would absolutley love to work with a student who decides to nominate themselves, go through the nomination process and then compete for the position and then maybe get elected. Any first-year students, apply if you are interested,” continued Abu-Rshaid.
For this upcoming academic year, the Students’ Union is placing an emphasis on student engagement.
“…we really want to engage with students more and meet them where they’re at,” said Spenler. “We’ve been doing a lot of work over the summer to improve and make things easier for students. Making our services easier to engage with and making it easier to be in a club …”
“There is a core group of students that engage with us, whether they come out to events or they use our services. But there is a huge group of students that are not engaging with us … we want to engage those students more and we need to meet them where they are at,” added Spenler.
“Our biggest goal is to be creative and innovative. Branching out a little bit more than we did last year. … I want to be more student facing. Whether that is just hanging out in the concourse and having an ‘ask me anything’ booth, whatever that looks like, but I think we need to engage with students more directly,” continued Spenler.
Students looking to contact Laurier’s Students’ Union can do so in many different ways.
“Our door is always open and mobile pockets,” mentioned Spenler.
“There’s a lot of different channels that we communicate to students. … We are very active on our Instagram DMs. We have our main account, @YourStudentsUnion. We also then have two pages, @Campus Life Waterloo and @CampusLifeBrantford, for more campus-specific activities,” added Spenler.
“If you google Laurier Students’ Union feedback form, it will be the first thing that comes up. When you use that feedback form, you can select which department you want to send it to,” said Spenler.
Also on the Students’ Union website, there is a staff directory listing emails and phone numbers of each member.
“We are always welcoming people to come in on either campus, you will be greeted by someone at our office door, and they can direct you to the appropriate staff members. On the Waterloo campus, we are located on the second floor of the Fred Nichols Campus Center, right above Wilf’s. And on the Brantford campus, we are located on the second floor of the Student Center,” outlined Spenler.
Look out for Students’ Union run events this academic year.
“Please engage with our different services as well. We always want to help students as much as we can, but we can’t do that if they don’t engage. So I would definitely just push that, to engage with us and to always reach out if there’s questions. Our door is always open,” said Spenler. “The heart of our organization is our students. They are the owners of the organization. If you want this organization to be the best version it can be, it can only be done through engagement. So engage in any of the different ways that we discussed. Engage with our organization. I promise you, we’ll have a good time,” added Abu-Rshaid.