Summer in the City
For many Wilfrid Laurier University students, the end of April marked the end of the school year and the beginning of summer holidays. However, while a large portion of students move back home for the summer, there are students who stay in Waterloo.
Whether they are in Waterloo for work, or because they are enrolled in spring or summer courses, the WLU campus and atmosphere still differs significantly in comparison to how it does during the fall and winter terms.
Being a summer student involves many adjustments. These students face a limited number of food services on campus, as the lack of student traffic has led to reduced hours, with many of the services to be closed until Labour Day weekend. This especially affects business co-op students, who often have a full course load. However, the social scene off-campus continues to thrive, despite a majority of students moving back home.
Campus is not as busy as it is during the fall and winter terms, a pivotal factor in why most of the food services on campus do not re-open until the end of the summer. However, during the spring and summer terms, some services maintain limited hours.
Starbucks in the concourse is open until 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and until 4 p.m. on Friday. Subway in Bricker Academic is open Monday through Friday — the hours are mostly focused around the middle of the day for the lunch period. In addition, the Graduate Student Association has Veritas Café open every day.
The Students’ Union has also made the decision to have the on-campus restaurant, Wilf’s, open only for special events, but they are not open for regular business over the summer.
“I tried to go to Wilf’s once this term and it was closed,” Sarah Mathews, a third-year English student staying in Waterloo for the summer for work, said. “I will have to research the hours of [other campus food services] for summer, because they don’t advertise it well.”
Dan Dawson, assistant vice president: student services at WLU, explained that Tim Hortons found in the Peters Building has normally been open during the summer in the past, because that is where the majority of classes are held for summer co-op students. However, there are renovations being made that have altered the decision to open it.
“This summer, there are some very extensive renovations taking place in the science building, where we do all of our baking to support our Tim Hortons locations. We can’t use the bakery this summer because of all the renovation work that is going on,” Dawson explained.
“We couldn’t open the Tim Hortons to satisfy that demand so that’s why we chose to keep Subway open and extend the hours in that location, which is obviously the next closest location to the Peters Building where those summer classes are being held.”
The decisions to have these few food services open during the summer are not arbitrary — they are chosen based on where most students frequent during the summer.
“Basically, what [factors into the decision] is the traffic on campus, and then pick two locations that are centered on the campus,” Dawson said.
Andrew Lovett, a third-year BBA student, recalled his first day on the campus for the spring term – he was surprised the Terrace was closed. He said he had assumed this would be one of the open locations.
“The Terrace was always the busiest location during the year, so I thought that, at the very least, Union Market or something would be open,” Lovett said. “I was shocked, to be honest.”
Despite its popularity during the fall and winter terms, the Terrace does not generate a large crowd during the spring and summer terms, according to Dawson.
“We can’t have too many locations open because none of them would be busy enough to substantiate it,” he explained.
The Terrace and Wilf’s will open for regular business on the Labour Day weekend before incoming first year students move into their residences. Other non-food services available for summer students on campus are also the bookstore and printing services, as well as the athletic complex.
Student life still present
Dylan Bannister is in Waterloo for the summer to take a full course load at WLU and complete the third year of his co-op program. He expected the presence of students on and off campus to be rather scarce. However, he said that is not the case.
“I thought the campus would be a lot emptier than it is, but it’s actually quite busy,” Bannister noted. “Certainly there are less students here than in the fall and winter terms, but it’s not a ghost town like I thought it would be, that’s for sure. I’ve only been here one week so far, so I haven’t had time to notice a ton of differences, but everyone seems a little more laid back — it’s nice.”
Mathews, who has frequented the campus on her days off work, has noticed that although there are students enrolled in classes, it doesn’t compare to the earlier terms.
“There are some people here but it’s a negligible number in comparison to the amount of people usually puttering around,” she said.
Business students enrolled in the co-op program have mandatory attendance for summer classes, meaning the attendance for classes are fairly high or equate to the normalcy of a class during the fall and winter semesters.
“My classes are just as full as they would be otherwise. Nothing to complain about in that regard though, it’s nice to see everyone again after four months away from Laurier,” Bannister said.
Due to the steady incline of warmer weather, a number of students are spending most of their time doing their readings and studying for their classes in areas such as the quad, as well as taking study breaks by blowing off steam on alumni field.
Summer students are not just sticking to campus either — they are also marking their territory on the familiar bars and clubs in the area.
Even though a significant number of students moved back home for the summer months, the bars and clubs in Waterloo have continued to thrive off business because of remaining summer students in addition to visiting students.
“The bars are just as full or more than in the other terms, and the restaurants all seem to be doing okay,” Bannister said. “I guess it’s something about the warmer weather, it just brings people out of their houses to spend money.”
There are many notable differences about being a summer student in Waterloo as opposed to being a fall and winter student. However, the experiences are still catalysts for a memorable semester and the summer students enrolled have many positive expectations for the semester.
“This seems to be shaping up to be a pretty fun term,” Bannister said. “I’ve signed up for enough things to keep myself very busy, and there’s always someone around to hang out with, so I’m quite looking forward to the coming semester overall.”