Holy shit. The day is finally here. The one we’ve been counting down to, avoiding, stressing about, and anticipating for four years. The day that marks the end and simultaneously launches us into a whole new, scary beginning. Wonderful, daunting – it’s here.
Whether you’re itching to leave the Laurier bubble or not ready to move on, graduation is forcing us to, at least in some symbolic capacity. We finally get to put our hands on that expensive, meaningful, all-important piece of paper we have been working towards. While I’m sure this graduating class looks very similar on paper; in terms of averages, faculty distribution, and future plans, the class of 2013 has had a unique experience at WLU.
I remember coming to check out the campus on a Friday of November 2008. The small, community feel of the campus and (seemingly) happy first years showing groups of people around residences made me feel like this was a place I could call home. There was outdoor seating and only a Williams on the lower level of the Terrace. The “quad” was an empty space used as residence for a local goose, and the dining hall was open terrain for meetings, studying, and eating. I remember being in first year and getting Second Cup in the Concourse after my night class, walking by the off-limits “Grad Pub”, and needing to be 19 to get into the Turret. We drank fishbowls at Vault, then Titanium, and then split a pizza at Four Seasons. If you forgot your Homecoming accessories, Forwell’s had you covered. Tutorials in St. Mike’s were spent questioning your safety. You never went hungry because Mel’s was always open, and instead of studying you played Robot Unicorn Attack and Family Feud. The 24 Lounge was just that – a lounge – and the lower Concourse had couches that were either the greatest or the most awkward seating situation ever. If Laurier called a snow day, you got an official email, no Tweets or Facebook updates.
Since first year Laurier has evolved. I’m not trying to say that these changes are bad (I’m sure a lot of people like Starbucks) but there is no denying that the school looks and feels a lot different than when we started. New residences, additional Turret nights, new walls, a plethora of screens, and an influx of students have given the campus a more modern and fast-paced feel than the homey campus I visited in 2008. While, for the most part, the school still attracts a similar preppy and friendly group of students, the growth of this population and subsequent building renovations has changed the makeup of our campus.
The class of 2013 is lucky in the sense that we got to experience both of these versions of Laurier, and the good and the bad aspects of each. I used to be able to get a seat at the library, but you couldn’t get sushi. The Bookstore and Hub did not look nearly as cool. Our Registrar’s Office line is better managed but now you have to be prepared to wait in line for coffee. We lost our fishbowls but gained cheap drinks at Firehall. Some days I miss our “old” campus. Some days I can’t even remember what it looked like. Still, it’s cool that our class got to see what Laurier was; small, humble, and chill, and what it’s going to be; bigger, sleeker, and busier. I’m happy to leave before another huge class of freshmen is admitted, but I’m sad that I won’t be able to use the new business building. For every class, graduation is bittersweet, and for us it will be no different. Our experience of Laurier has been different and now, at the end of the road, I feel lucky that we got to experience WLU’s transition and get a taste of the past and the future. While the construction wasn’t always enjoyable (seriously, how long did it take to pour cement and make that ramp?) the results have been (mostly) great and it’s wonderful to see the school respond to a growing student population’s needs.