The Cord’s top news stories of the 2018-2019 year and the decade
Of the Year
1. Laurier “four-peats” in student satisfaction
For the fourth year in a row, Wilfrid Laurier University was deemed the number one school in the country from the MacLean’s magazine rankings. The school also held the sixth place ranking in the comprehensive category, as well as the third spot in student services and fifth in faculty awards and social sciences and humanities grants. The University of Guelph held the second place ranking behind Laurier, but with many opportunities for growth with extra-curricular activity, friendly faculty and staff and great residence life, Laurier held on to the top spot once again.
2. Brantford turns 20
Laurier’s Brantford campus celebrated its 20 year anniversary this year as the campus was officially started in the year 1999. The celebration weekend hosted students, faculty, staff, alumni, family and friends as they celebrated two decades. Laurier’s Brantford campus had gone under many changes in the year 2019 with the closure of the William’s Caféa and the opening of the OneMarket building for added space for classes. The celebration included a visit from the men’s basketball team from the Waterloo campus who played in a showcase for spectators in Brantford.
3. University Stadium Renovations
After an announcement that both the University of Waterloo and Laurier would be splitting a $5 million donation for upgrades in the department of athletics, funded by the city of Waterloo, UW estimated that the upgrades it wanted to instate was around $23 million, while Laurier’s total reconstruction of University Stadium would cost over $50 million to renovate. The stadium, built in 1958, has had multiple upgrades put in over the years. The funding seeks to revamp the stadium into a multi-purpose facility for both Laurier and community athletics.
4. TAs Unionizing at Laurier
In October of 2019, the emergence of a Facebook group titled “Wilfrid Laurier TAs United” revealed teaching assistants at Laurier’s intent to pursue unionization in order to improve their current working conditions. As one of the few universities without a union for their TAs, TAs at Laurier hoped to address ongoing issues which they have collectively faced, such as increasing support and benefits, going over-hours, transparency within hiring, wages and benefits through unionization. They are continuing to pursue stronger, more equitable wages and benefits.
5. Frosh Week up in Flames
On Sept. 2, nearly 1,000 people attended a street party on Ezra Avenue during frosh week, a street infamous for gathering students and patrons from outside the university for events such as homecoming weekend or St. Patrick’s Day. Images of the street party flooded social media as new and non-students rowded the streets and mounted furniture to crowd surf, ending in furniture being set on fire and emergency services breaking up the crowd. A 17-year old student was charged with arson, property damage and was later dismissed from the university.
Of the Decade
1. Lindsay Shepherd, Nov. 15, 2017
After showing a clip of a U of T professor, Jordan Peterson, in a first-year class, teaching assistant and graduate student Lindsay Shepherd would become the centre of attention in the media about Laurier for the better part of a year. Intended to show a neutral viewpoint of using “they” as a singular pronoun, Shepherd claimed her character was attacked by professors and her faculty, and what ensued would be a year of lawsuits, controversial visits from public figures and the creation of the Laurier Society for Open Inquiry (LSOI), which would become defunct in 2018.
2. Veritas Shuts Down, Dec. 12, 2016
Laurier’s Graduate Students Association (WLUGSA) terminated it’s contract with Veritas Café after a job ad was posted describing the soon-to-be employee as a “new slave” The operator at the time, Sandor Dosman, claimed he had been given little and sudden notice of his termination from the GSA. Veritas, which had opened in 2012, would close for the month while dealing with legal issues, and would re-open in January of 2017 under new management with Patrick McMahon running operations, with the space opening once again in fall 2018 with a brand new look.
3. Laurier ranks #1 in Student Satisfaction, Nov. 2, 2016
The 2016 MacLean’s rankings of universities would put Laurier on the top of the list as it ranked first in student satisfaction, as well as ranking ninth in the comprehensive category. Laurier would also receive the third-place ranking for prevention of sexual assault in the year of 2016. The student satisfaction ranking was introduced in 2015 for students to comment on their experiences in student life at their university and to indicate areas of growth. Laurier would go on to win the number one spot for the next three years, holding the spot for four years in a row.
4. Laurier introduces first-ever reading week, Oct. 29, 2014
The fall of 2014 would see the first ever fall reading week at Laurier, a pilot program that had been tossed around for years at the school. Though many schools had implemented something similar, many believed it would be beneficial for students to enjoy a break in the fall as well, to catch up on readings and relax from school from a mental health viewpoint. The timing of this break encouraged students to stay home with family, travel or visit friends. Five years later, Laurier still implements a fall reading week, and many other schools have followed suit.
5. St. Jacob’s burns down, Sept. 2, 2013
In the early morning of Sept. 2, 2013, first responders arrived at the St. Jacob’s Farmer’s Market to find the main building in flames. 45 firefighters were on the scene trying to protect the building, but by the time they arrived the roof had been fully engulfed in flames and the building was unable to be saved. The building was a historic landmark for many in the region, but over a year later, the market would re-open the main building, renovated to increase the availability of space for vendors by 20 per cent. The cost of the project totaled over $5 million.