In high school, you likely had a student council or student union running events and advocating for student concerns.
At Waterloo, we have something similar: the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA for short). WUSA is the student union for all undergraduate students (who are mostly students completing their first university degree). They're here to represent concerns of students and advocate on your behalf.
In each of Waterloo's six faculties, we have similar associations who represent their students. These are known as student societies and each faculty has their own unique group.
What does a student society do?
Student societies put on a number of events throughout the year. These events might introduce you to new people (with free food, of course), help with stress relief (puppy therapy, anyone?), or allow you to have new experiences with off-campus trips, like to Canada’s Wonderland or Grand Bend beach.
A popular event in the Faculty of Environment is Nacho Crawl, where students go to Uptown Waterloo for an evening of nachos and fun! Additionally, many of the faculty societies have a semi-formal event once a year where you can dress up, take fancy photos with friends, and dance the night away.
You may be wondering how you can find out about these events. They’re often promoted on social media, via email, through posters, and even through professors who may even mention them in class, so keep your eyes and ears open!
Offers cheap food and helpful services
All the faculty societies sell cheap snacks, and for most of the faculties, you can purchase them at their Coffee and Donut shop, better known as a CnD. At the Environment CnD (known as the Environment Coffee Shop) you can get locally sourced food and ethically sourced coffee (and it's only a dollar!).
Other services include locker rentals, exam banks (a repository of past exams to help you study), mock interviews to prepare for co-op, résumé critiquing, board game rentals, and so much more. If you have any questions or concerns, you can always email your society or pop into their office during the office hours that they have during the week.
Provide student space
Another great thing about the faculty clubs is that they provide space for students to hang out or to study on campus. I love them because they’re pretty casual environments and often very comfortable, so they're a nice place to relax while on campus. I often hang out in my faculty lounge studying, catching up with friends or grabbing a coffee at our CnD.
Program societies and clubs
Within many of the faculty societies, there are smaller program clubs/societies. These program clubs put on events, similar to what the faculty societies do, but they're geared towards students in that particular program. For example, ERSSA (Environment, Resources and Sustainability Student Association) does an annual camping trip for students in the program.
How can you get involved?
In addition to offering events and services for students, the faculty societies represent their student bodies at WUSA meetings. You can get involved as a student councilor to represent your faculty at WUSA by being elected by students from your faculty.
You can also become a part of the executive of the faculty or program society, become a first-year representative, or volunteer for the various events and services run by the societies.
Of course, another great way to get involved is by simply going out to the events and making the most of what the faculty societies have to offer.
Why should you get involved?
Being a part of the Environment Student Society (ESS) has not just allowed me to meet new people, but it has also helped me develop some great skills that I constantly highlight in co-op interviews or apply in my studies. It helped to make my university experience exciting and engaging as I was involved in many different events with many different people. It also allowed me a voice to represent students and make a difference within my faculty. For example, every term the faculty society and program clubs meet have breakfast with the dean to discuss ideas and advice for the future of the faculty. This gives us a real opportunity to advocate for our faculty!
I have made incredible friends through my program and faculty societies over the past four years.
"Moving from Alberta, I didn't know anyone in the Faculty of Environment or at Waterloo. To meet new people, I joined the Waterloo Environment and Business Society in first year and I have never looked back. I have made incredible friends through my program and faculty societies over the past four years. It opened up such a warm and welcoming community of like-minded people. The Faculty of Environment has become a home away from home and my fellow council members have become my family here in Waterloo," says Michelle, who is the president of ESS and a fourth-year Environment and Business student.
No matter what faculty you’re in, you’ll be well supported by your faculty society and will always have an event to attend, people to meet, and many ways to get involved. Make the most of your time at university!