The air was buzzing at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo on Sept. 3, as new students moved into the residence, accompanied by their parents and welcomed by enthusiastic upper-year students. The energy that comes with starting something new continued all week and was evident across the entire University of Waterloo campus, with groups of new students—many on campus for the first time—navigating new friendships, locating classrooms and adjusting to life on their own.
This year was an opportunity to revive treasured traditions and to create new ones during Orientation Week. The fun included a scavenger hunt, outdoor games, a University College mixer, and the faculty/staff/student volleyball game. Students also offered their service to the local community with a free car wash, and tied quilts for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Each year at the opening celebration, everyone at Grebel is invited to participate in an act of community; this year, assembling school kits to be distributed by MCC.
For the first time since before the pandemic, Grebel’s residence is completely occupied, with 140 students, and 32 students in the apartments. With more than 70 other students connecting to Grebel as associates, almost 250 students consider Grebel their home base at the University of Waterloo.
“We who make up the Grebel community today represent a wide range of cultures, traditions, and backgrounds,” remarked president Marcus Shantz at the opening celebration. “My view is that a community that values complexity is likely to be a good one. A good community honours, celebrates and respects that the individuals within it are unique.”
Graduate students, too, come to study at Grebel with a mix of complex backgrounds and experiences. Grebel offers a master’s degree in peace and conflict studies (MPACS) and in theological studies (MTS). With a total of 37 students currently in the program, the MPACS program welcomed 13 new students this term. The MTS program oriented nine new students, bringing the total to 30 students currently in the program.
Undergraduate enrolment numbers are holding steady at around 1,600 course enrolments for the fall. Grebel professors teach undergraduate courses in peace and conflict studies, music, church music and worship, history, Mennonite studies, religious studies, and sociology, all open to University of Waterloo students across all six faculties.
This school year promises to be a year of connection and community, as Grebel explores new pathways for learning together.