Lifelong connections at the SLC and PAC

A new expansion to the SLC and PAC inspires alumni to share memories

I walked through the Student Life Centre (SLC) for six years and two degrees – mindlessly passing the Turnkey Desk and wheeley chairs. On Fridays, I’d grab a copy of Imprint and on Wednesdays I joined the line of students waiting for The Bomber to open.

When the University unveiled a new, 63,000 square-foot expansion to the SLC and Physical Activities Complex (PAC) in September, I was tasked with collecting alumni memories of these spaces. While I couldn't think of any particular memory of my own, my mind flooded with mundane, daily occurences.

Today, I can still see the carpool display, the patterned fabric on the chairs and the sun shining on plastic tabletops. Looking back, the SLC acted as my living room between classes, my kitchen when I needed a quick lunch and my office during exams. Maybe you can see these details in vivid colour too. Maybe my recollections and the alumni memories featured here remind you of a once-cherished home.

A place for dominoes and lifelong connections

Anandi Carroll-Woolery (BMath ’02) was looking for the Caribbean Student Association when she entered the SLC with a friend. Little did she know, she’d also meet her future husband Lannois (BASc ’97).

Lannois and Anandi with their oldest child, posing at Lannois' graduation

Anandi: “I saw him for the first time across the SLC. He was playing dominoes and I was so excited to see people playing the game. I sought that group out because I could tell it was our people.”

Lannois: “When I first arrived at Waterloo, I spent a lot of time in the SLC. It was the hub of campus life. One day, I think I overheard Caribbean accents and just tried to be a part of the group. I was hanging out with the Caribbean students, you know, listening to reggae music, Calypso music and playing dominoes when I first saw Anandi.”

Lannois and Anandi today

A safe place for LGBTQ+ students

Paul Barton (BSc ’82) was an active member in the Glow community, then called Gay Liberation of Waterloo (GLOW). As he reflected on Glow’s 50th anniversary this year, Barton recalled the fear surrounding weekly coffeehouses in the SLC.

Paul Barton“Glow coffeehouses were on Wednesday nights, which was also campus movie night and people packed the SLC. That was a dilemma we talked about for years because people had to walk through the main space to get into the coffeehouse location in one of the corner meeting spaces. There was a chance that someone would see!

“We decided to leave it on Wednesday nights because people had an excuse to be there – they were going to the movie. It wasn’t obvious they were going to the Glow coffeehouse. Plus, most people were watching the movie. The only people watching the hallway were gay people. And once you got into the space, you were OK. You were safe.”

A place to get loud

Owen JonesBefore he played varsity volleyball, Owen Jones (BSc ’86) attended basketball games as a high-school student. As both a fan and a player, Jones remembers the PAC being loud:

“We would go to the PAC to watch the games in the late ’70s, and it was bedlam. You had to go a half hour early just to get a seat and, at that time, they had an upper deck as well. It was always packed and chaotic. The crowd would stand up and – I don’t know if they still do it now – but they would clap until Waterloo scored their first basket. Sometimes it was six, seven minutes if they were in a bad spell.”

Basketball fans in the PAC, circa 1983

A place for love and music

Sixteen years ago, Zubin Thakkar (BASc ’07) formed the band Prize Fighter with other students, and they quickly became a fan favourite at The Bomber. In fact, that’s how Thakkar met his wife, Tushara Weeraratne (BES ’08).

“Our bands would open and close for each other at The Bomber. That place was so quintessential to my experience at Waterloo and everything that’s happened since then.”