Making something out of arts students

Getting 17 departments together under one banner is difficult. The Faculty of Arts Students’ Association (FASA) was created to solve that problem.

Faculty of arts representatives Jarett Henry and Levi Nilson formed FASA last August. The two started the association to advocate and build community for the big and somewhat disjointed faculty of arts.

“What Jarett and I ran on was increasing a sense of community. There are 8,000 students in 17 departments, a school within the faculty, a whole bunch of interdisciplinary programs. Nobody knew what the hell was going on,” Nilson said. “Having a department rep structure in the mode of a faculty association just made so much sense.”

FASA is based on a structure thought out by former arts rep Ryland Brennan. Nilson, who is also FASA’s president, said he and Henry needed to start those plans before the fall semester.

“We kind of revamped his structure last summer and we just moved forward on it,” Nilson said. “We were like ‘we need to have this before September if we want this to happen.’ We can’t hum and haw about it for a year.”

Henry hopes FASA events will bring arts students with majors as different as dance and economics together. Along with this week’s Celebrate Your Degree Arts Gala, FASA has held two other events since September.

They hosted glow-in-the-dark yoga in That Empty Space earlier this year, with That Empty Space filled to capacity.

FASA has representatives from 10 departments. Tina Shaygan, FASA’s English rep, said information from representatives allow executives to advocate for student concerns they may not be familiar with.

“Basically it is to create better communication for the executives who can take the issues to the Students’ Union,” Shaygan said. “Jarett and Levi are in economics and political science. They might not know what’s going on in urban studies or English.”

While FASA lobbies for the entire faculty, they encourage departments to deal with grievances themselves.

“We didn’t want to assert ourselves above any department with FASA,” Henry said. “When it comes to advocacy issues, we leave it up to the clubs themselves. The other option is that if they want us to get involved, we do have some of those connections to the dean, to the associate dean and the Students’ Union president.”

Henry and Nilson have high hopes for the organization they started. They would like to see FASA become as important to arts as the Engineering Students’ Society is to Schulich.

“We view FASA as being something like the Engineering Students’ Society. It’s something that everyone knows about and everyone’s a member of,” Henry said.

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