Sept. 6, 2022Print | PDF
The Lazaridis Students’ Society at Wilfrid Laurier University, more commonly known as LazSoc, is the governing student association that serves almost 7,000 undergraduate students in the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics.
For more than 50 years, LazSoc has strived to enhance the undergraduate experience by providing opportunities for student development and exploration. With 26 subsidiary clubs, committees, and associations, LazSoc oversees everything from case competitions and industry focused workshops, to networking events and student socials.
The 2022/23 school year ushered in two new co-presidents, Ben Jesseau, third-year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) student and Julie Tanna, fifth-year BBA and Financial Math Double Degree student. We had the opportunity to sit down with them to discuss their presidential vision, involvement with the organization and plans for the upcoming school year.
Lazaridis School: How long have you been involved with LazSoc?
Julie: I joined LazSoc in 2019 in the Finance portfolio as a Conference and Competition Director. As of last year, I created a new role and portfolio of VP of External Affairs, allowing LazSoc opportunities to expand their network and create university wide interpersonal relationships.
Ben: I have been on LazSoc since my first year. I started as the Finance Associate on the Finance Team, then stepped into a club-facing role in the Finance Team as External Director of Finance during my second year.
Lazaridis School: Why did you first get involved and why have you stayed involved?
Julie: When I started at Laurier, I wanted to be involved in the school’s culture, so I joined Women of Leadership Laurier (WILL) as a Mentor and the Students’ Union as an Icebreaker. LazSoc culture is awesome and we really try to emphasize that the club is like a family - we work together and support each other as a team. I have loved it each and every year.
Ben: It was a natural progression out of high school; I’ve always been involved and wanted to continue. The biggest draw for me was making an impact on the community I’m a part of. I got involved in Residence Life, and then thought LazSoc was the best way to get involved with the Lazaridis School student community. I love the work, I love making an impact on the student experience and supporting our clubs. The people also make a huge difference. Each year, the team is amazing and I make a whole new group of friends.
Lazaridis School: Why did you decide to run for co-presidents?
Julie: Going into my fifth year at Laurier, I didn’t feel ready to leave LazSoc or the community I have grown to love. I reached out to Ben, whom I had met while in the Finance portfolio, to be my co-president. We both had similar interests in holding events that were impactful for the community and would build our network. With a long list of ideas for the upcoming school year, I wanted my ideas to come to fruition.
Ben: It was always in the back of my mind - I thought being LazSoc President was a cool job to have. Going into my third year with the team, I knew I wanted to move up to a leadership role. When Julie came and planted the seed in my brain about being co-presidents, I knew that we’d work well together. It felt like the right decision and I couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone else. We both thought there was a real opportunity to make a change, especially as we’re going back to in-person learning, so we were excited to step up and take on the challenge of leading our team.
Lazaridis School: What has been your favourite LazSoc initiative since you’ve been involved?
Julie: Although it is a tough choice to choose just one, my favourite initiative is Movember. This philanthropic event occurs during the month of November and aims to support and raise awareness about men's prostate and testicular cancer. In 2021, we were able to transform a one-day event into a month-long awareness campaign. By the end of the month over $15,000 had been raised, and we were nominated for Best Philanthropic Initiative by the Canadian Association for Business Schools.
Ben: My favourite initiative is Bell Let’s Talk, an awareness campaign created by the Canadian telecommunications company, Bell Canada, in an effort to raise awareness and combat stigma surrounding mental illness in Canada. For the last two years, we’ve put together amazing videos and raised money that we donated to local charities. We feel like this is a very important initiative and I’m glad we participate. I also have a soft spot for Coffee Bar, a weekly initiative where we give out free coffee and snacks to students as they arrive for their morning classes. Getting face time with students and talking to people, getting LazSoc and ourselves out there is really fun and something I’m looking forward to bringing back.
Lazaridis School: What are you excited to do with the team in the 2022/23 school year?
Julie: I am excited to make a difference and challenge LazSoc to grow more than it has in years before by strengthening the bond with the internal team and hosting accessible socials that cover a variety of interests. We want to create relationships with the club presidents and vice presidents in the 26 clubs LazSoc is offering this year, as well as foster the relationship with faculty, faculty associations and universities across Canada. We also want to create a balance between hosting in-person and virtual events. Lastly, we hope to continue to give back to the school and community in different ways such as Thank You cards during the holiday season, visiting retirement homes and showing more support and appreciation for the community.
Ben: Number-one thing I’m really excited for is going back to in-person learning. As a third-year student, I’m in this unique position where first year was fully online and second year was mostly online too, and although I’m considered a more senior student now, it feels like I’m doing it all over again for the first time. Whether it’s being in a room together for team meetings or walking onto the stage on O-Day and seeing a bunch of first-year students, I am thrilled to go back in person and see a sea of humanity. This is going to be a foundational year for LazSoc and our chance to set new precedents and leave a lasting impact.
Lazaridis School: Your presidential platform included clubs, students, and community. Can you tell us more about that?
Ben: Our big focus is finding new and unique ways to support our clubs as we transition back in person. Whether that’s increased training opportunities, more funding, or just being there as a sounding board, supporting that transition is a really big thing for us. Additionally, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) continues to be a huge priority. We want to explore how we can introduce EDI initiatives beyond the club's community.
Lastly, I'm also really excited for possibly launching a Student Involvement Certificate to recognize students who are going the extra mile and getting involved in club events and developing skills that add to the Lazaridis School community. Keep an eye out for this in September!
Julie: We want to give back to students through events, knowledge sharing, monetary needs and so much more. Our hope is to break down the barrier and make LazSoc more accessible, helping to create a strong community feeling.
We also hope to strengthen our inter-university relationships by collaborating with other schools to host events. We want to strengthen our relationship with the community by forming/establishing/creating BIPOC partnerships, supporting local small businesses and showcasing the community’s talents.
Lazaridis School: Anything else you’d like to share?
Julie: I am so excited for what we have planned. Since joining LazSoc back in 2019, Laurier has felt more like home. Ben and I are continuously learning and growing, just like you! If you see us around Lazaridis Hall or walking across campus, don’t be a stranger, come up to us and chat!
Ben: To whoever is reading this, come say hi and if you have any ideas, share it with us! We are largely here to represent the almost 7,000 Lazaridis School students and we want to find new ways to do that. Don’t be afraid to reach out! One thing I always mention to people when talking about Laurier and the Laurier experience is to find some way to get involved on campus. It makes the Laurier experience 10 times better! You’ll meet a lot of people that will become your friends throughout your time here, gain valuable experience, and have so much fun along the way. Find something you love and get involved on campus.