From 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. yesterday in Needles Hall, friends and staff held a memorial for Stephanie Ye-Mowe. The memorial was intended to be a quiet space for community members to reflect and to leave any notes or small gifts which would afterwards be given to Ye-Mowe’s family and friends.
The memorial comes after the news on Sept. 26 that Ye-Mowe passed away. Since then, numerous student groups and those who knew Ye-Mowe have made statements and shared their memories about the former WUSA president and board member.
The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, where Ye-Mowe was a former board member and VP Finance, wrote on Sept. 29 that “Steph was a fierce champion of student-led advocacy, and stood up for students with conviction, passion, and an intersectional view of how robust policy could best address the diverse needs of students.”
UW’s Engineering Society also posted a statement online, writing that the society “[is] committed to fighting for [Ye-Mowe] and the causes she held dear . . . Stephanie was a beacon of passion and empathy at Waterloo, dedicating herself tirelessly to improving the lives of her fellow students.”
Waterloo’s Math Society, as well as the David Johnston Research + Technology Park where Ye-Mowe previously worked as a co-op student, also remembered Ye-Mowe and her contributions.
One commenter on r/uwaterloo wrote about their experience meeting Ye-Mowe at a student leadership conference: “I was brand new and [had] never gone before and I was sitting alone when everyone was socializing. She came up to me, and kindly introduced herself to me and made me feel less anxious . . . Although I didn’t know Steph well, I had some interactions with her and they left a big impact on me. At the conferences, Steph was so passionate about advocating for students and it was evident in the way she spoke and delivered her advocacy.”
Many students are now calling for action to be taken regarding the operation of WUSA and student government systems as a whole. Ye-Mowe resigned from WUSA’s Board of Directors in September, stating that they could not in good conscience continue with WUSA due to their objection to the new governance model and for being made to feel “like the bad guy for wanting WUSA to do better for students.”
In response to one call for action, several of Ye-Mowe’s friends gave their thoughts. “I had the privilege of calling her a friend for [five] years, learning from her, and working alongside her in student societies and WUSA. I agree with the others here, give everyone some time to reflect and grieve before coordinating,” one commenter said. Another commenter who worked with Ye-Mowe through the Waterloo Architecture Students Association said that “[Ye-Mowe] was amazing and so good at her job . . . I’m in shock and heartbroken. My instinct is to fight and so I’d love to help.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, reach out to loved ones and consult these resources:
Counselling Services: 519-888-4096 (#2 on prompt for Counselling Services)
Campus Wellness: Crisis intervention, individual and group therapy
Here 24/7: Intake, assessment, and referrals to local addiction and mental health services
Good2Talk: Free, confidential support services for all Ontario post-secondary students
Canadian Mental Health Association: Bereavement Services available