Kevin Collins, an arts councillor for the UNBSU, said that improving the sense of community among arts students is the driving force behind the creation of a society.
“There are not really events for them as arts students or representation or services. A lot of people feel left out. It’s really an initiative to make the faculty more inclusive,” Collins said.
The purpose of the society would be to hold events, provide services and build representation on campus for arts students.
One particular example would be orientation week. No social events are held specifically for students in arts.
“People tend to identify with their department more than their faculty, but that leaves first and second years out in the cold, especially if they’re unsure about what they want to do or what degree they want to pursue,” said Collins.
Collins and two other arts councillors have begun the process of starting the society by drafting a constitution, reviewing it and holding public consultations for all arts students.
The next step is to start consulting with departmental societies that are already active to get tips and to coordinate the society.
“We’re really looking at the engineering faculty’s model for having an overarching society that sort of coordinates all the efforts of the sub-societies,” Collins said.
Collins hopes that the society will be in full swing by next year.
“The ultimate goal for this year was to set up to establish the club. Essentially, have the constitution approved … and then have an executive started and then get ratification from the Student Union.”
This is not the first attempt of students looking to create an arts society; several have tried in the past but have failed because of fluctuating interest or a lack of funding. This time, the arts councillors are seeking stable financial support.
“We’ve been speaking to the dean of the faculty who’s expressed interest in providing funding to an arts society. In the long run what we’re looking at is having a referendum on implementing a small student fee … something in the range of $5 to $10 for all arts students to provide a permanent budget for this society,” said Collins.
George MacLean, dean of arts, said that his colleagues also responded with enthusiasm when he brought the initiative up at a faculty council meeting.
“I’m thrilled that arts students want to establish a faculty-wide student organization,” said MacLean. “An arts student body council or society will give our students a collective voice in the activities in our faculty.”
“Student engagement in arts is a priority. Students represent the largest community in our faculty and we’re trying to deepen the connection they feel with UNB and arts,” MacLean said.
Collins urges arts students to get involved with the creation of the arts society by attending public consultations.
“There is a demand for a society like this,” said Collins. “People do want better services, they do want a sense of community.”