An Associate’s Experience in the Grebel Community

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Stuart smiles in the CPA gallery

Conrad Grebel University College on the University of Waterloo campus is known for its community ethos. While many students experience this atmosphere richly as a resident, there is another way to engage with Grebel’s community - the Associate program.

Stuart Matthews liked the idea of having his own apartment, even though he had enjoyed his time living in residence at Grebel. Currently in his second year of Environmental Science, Stuart is specializing in Water Science and minoring in Geography and Environmental Management. Becoming an Associate, someone who is a part of the Grebel community while living off-campus, was the perfect opportunity for him. “It keeps you a little bit distant from UW campus while still being able to stay involved with the Grebel community. I love coming back for snack nights, participating in clubs and holding leadership positions at Grebel.”

The Associate program provides many opportunities to contribute to Grebel life. Stuart’s involvements include webmaster for Grebel’s student leadership team, snack-parent in his first year, and Student Council secretary. Stuart said that being an Associate hasn’t been a drastic change from residence life. “I think it stayed the same more than I expected. It really depends on how much time you spend at the College.” He commented that he spent most of his time out of class at Grebel. “The main difference is that I make my own food and it’s quieter at night!”

Approximately one third of students who connect with the residence program at Grebel, are Associates, and they are invited to participate in the community throughout their study and work terms. Associating is how many students stay connected to Grebel while living off campus. While participating in all the residential activities at the College like Community Suppers, intramural sports, snack nights, and leadership roles, Associates also periodically gather on their own at the College for potlucks.

Students who hail from the Kitchener-Waterloo area can also join the Associate program whether in first year or beyond. They can live at home, yet have a ‘community base’ on campus at UW. Becoming an Associate in first year allows students to participate in all of Grebel’s Orientation Week activities at the start of fall term, forging friendships and becoming familiar with all of the facilities and opportunities available at Grebel, right from the get go!  

Stuart leading an orientation song
A central reason that Stuart wanted to remain in the Grebel community as an associate was to give back to the welcoming environment he had experienced in first year. “Grebel provided a great community to easily become a part of as a first-year university student. I really enjoy contributing to, and helping other people find that experience.” This is why he became an Orientation Week leader in fall 2019. “It’s been really valuable to meet a wide variety of people.”

Stuart Matthews holdsing a violin
“One of the reasons I chose Grebel is because it’s the home of UWaterloo’s Music program.” Stuart was a serious musician in high school and wanted to stay connected to music while studying environmental science. During his time at Grebel, Stuart has contributed to several casual ensembles and was a member of Grebel’s Student Council sponsored Beauty and the Beast musical pit band. He has found that Grebel provides many opportunities to connect with other students through music. “The coffee houses and talent shows that Grebel offers are a great way to collaborate with someone you may never have played music with or talked to that much.”

Stuart is a Community Supper server during his current co-op term. Grebel’s Community Supper is a weekly event that invites residents, associates, faculty, and staff to share a meal together, accompanied by announcements and a speaker. Community Supper can be a microcosm of what Grebel is as a whole because it allows you to meet and talk with people that you wouldn’t meet and talk with otherwise,” Stuart remarked. “A lot of my experience at Grebel has been focused on great conversation.” He said that Community Suppers provide a space to hear from the diverse experiences of those throughout the college. “That’s really what being at Grebel is all about.”

Visit the off-campus students page to apply to become a Grebel Associate!

By Elizabeth Robertson