The Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association started over 50 years ago as the ‘Federation of Students’ in response to undergraduate student concerns that were going unheard. The name ‘Federation of Students’ was inspired by Canada's Centennial, according to founding members Richard Van Veldhuisen and Dr. Gerry Mueller.
“We didn't want to use ‘council’ because we had already had that, and this was going to be something different,” Mueller said. “Because it was Canada’s Centennial that year , everyone's mind was on Confederation which lead to ‘Federation,’ so I think it also came from that.”
And so the Federation of Students, affectionately known as Feds, was born in 1967 and since that time students have collectively been working together to help shape the undergrad experience, both in and outside the classroom, on the University of Waterloo campus.
Over the last 50 years, Feds has represented the undergraduate student voice on advocacy issues like tuition, housing, campus safety, and transit. It has also evolved to include other initiatives to meet changing student needs as our student population has grown and diversified. In addition to advocacy work, essential services and support and opportunities to develop campus community has made our association into a supportive core of campus for undergraduate students.
However, more recently Feds has struggled with the name resonating with students. While ‘Feds’ held a special connection to the Canadian Centennial in 1967, half a century has lost that context for current undergrads. Not only does this make communicating with students difficult and vague, it means that the very students who belong to Feds don’t know how being a member of Feds impacts them.
In early 2019 we started the process of exploring ways to develop a new perception on campus that better represents who we are and what we do, thereby building a stronger relationship with our members. This kicked off an organizational rebrand where ‘Federation of Students - Feds’ will now be operating as Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association, or WUSA.
If you’ve been on campus for awhile you’ll notice some changes as we continue to reevaluate areas for improvement through the lens of this new brand with the intention of connecting with our members in a more meaningful way. If you’re new to campus you might see or hear ‘Feds’ around; know that there is a long, proud history behind that name that all comes back to passionate students collectively working together to help shape the undergrad experience, both in and outside the classroom, on the University of Waterloo campus. And whether we’re called Feds or WUSA, whether it’s 1967 or 2019, that hasn’t changed.
WUSA currently operates a growing number of businesses, 13 student-run services, supports over 250 clubs and a number of student societies, and facilitates special events like Orientation and Welcome Week.