English club returns to campus

The English Literature Students’ Society is coming to life again after being disbanded by the Students’ Union last year for not submitting an annual report.

“There’s a pretty atrocious track record for humanities clubs, unfortunately,” says Britney Luimes, Students’ Union Humanities representative. “One of my goals that I set for myself this year was to try to revitalize and help clubs in the humanities sustain themselves.”

Luimes said student apathy has led to the demise of Humanities clubs. She observed that the diversity of studies within the faculty often keeps students in separate corners, rather than bringing them together. This separation hinders the development of specific traditions and culture that help unify faculties.

“There will be a group of really interested students, [then] they will graduate and move on to different things and they don’t mentor anyone to come up into those [club] positions and it tends to just fade away,” she told the Gauntlet.

Ian Kinney, editor of NoD Magazine, has made it his task to revive the ELSS. NoD Magazine was started by the ELSS in 2005, but is now independent. After ELSS was disbanded, NoD Magazine took over the office space.

Kinney and Luimes are not alone in attempting to cultivate community within the arts at the University of Calgary. NoD Magazine publishes undergraduate creative writing, while other Students’ Union clubs are responsible for making various theatre, dance and art productions free for students.

“These have been efforts . . . to make the arts more approachable, to make the Students’ Union more approachable [and] not so intimidating, or whatever it is that is deterring students from being a part of student life,” Kinney says.

He emphasized the importance of students having a place to find people with the same passions and interests.

Kinney also believes a healthy student community involves active communication with professors.

“I don’t feel that there should be . . . any intimidation or fear . . . of your teachers. They are fellow theorists. They are more specialized, they are your mentors of course, but I think you should have more camaraderie with your mentors than distance,” said Kinney.

The SU realizes the challenges of fostering community within Humanities will only increase after Humanities becomes part of the broader Arts faculty next year. So far the SU has got a head start on tackling that challenge by creating the Faculty of Arts Clubs Council, which coordinates clubs specifically within the faculty.

The ELSS will officially celebrate its resurrection on March 4, 2010.

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