By Nikayla Goddard, April 9 2021—
With four positions uncontested and one position contested, the 2021-2022 Faculty of Arts Students’ Association (FASA) council was announced on April 8.
President Mateusz Salmassi, a third year psychology international student, cited budget cuts, tuition hikes, performance-based funding and healthier academic regulations as desired points of change in his platform. His platform points spoke to building issue-based FASA campaigns “designed to go beyond advocacy,” creating a VP Student Organizing role, expanding the Arts Undergraduate Research Symposium (AURS), collaborations and working with the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) and continuing to fight for “Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Justice” through various actions.
In response to the results of the election and the announcement of the new FASA committee, Salmassi commented, “I’m beyond excited about our incoming executive team. I think we have an excellent set of people ready to organize students to oppose the budget cuts, tuition hikes, performance-based funding and more, all while working to improve Arts students’ academic experience. We have our work cut out for us, but the eighth FASA council has set us up for success.”
In terms of what Salmassi wishes to tackle first from his campaign, he says that he is not so much as starting new work as continuing his own work and goals, and prior to the start of his term on May 1, he has plans already rolling.
He says he will be “working with students to stop the university’s plans to privatize our university bookstore. Privatizing our bookstore would be financially irresponsible, and it would be yet another blow to affordable education on our campus. I am also reaching out to the Save African Studies taskforce to lay the foundation for supporting them in their negotiations with the university.”
Noa Spivak, a third-year student majoring in Ancient and Medieval History, is taking on the VP Academic role this term — a position that also ran uncontested. Some of her platform points include creating a D2L shell for the Arts Faculty, boosting office hours to improve advocacy and representation and continuing to build the AURS and expanding the Arts Showcase. Her priority this term is establishing the D2L shell, she says, explaining, “FASA is meant to represent the Faculty of Arts as a sub-union, and without being able to reach the arts body and create digital accessibility, it’s not the best possible representation we can provide.”
The one contested position this year was for VP Operations and Finance, where candidates Aurelle Crerar and Frankie Hart ran with both similar and different platform points. Crerar focused her platform on points of advocacy and transparency, creating an “appropriate and sustainable budget” and creating events and an atmosphere that would boost community and engagement. Hart’s platform focused on FASA gaining financial independence from the faculty and supporting the introduction of a levy fee, as well as diversifying fundraisers in lieu of COVID-19 to then boost funding in events, grants and sponsorships. In the end, Crerar won the position.
Crerar commented, “As the new VP OpFi I believe the most important platform point is to establish and follow through with an appropriate budget that won’t only serve us as students, but to also provide opportunities to other student groups who feel that they need funding. We as a collective faculty have the opportunity to continue fighting for funding that will help give equality to students, research opportunities and job opportunities.”
Crerar added that her running mate, Hart, ran “a wonderful campaign full of ideas and ambitions.”
Hart remarked, “Although I did lose, I was happy to know that despite being online, voter turnout was higher this year than it was last year! The difference in the vote was tight, which I think reflects a significant interest in what I was putting forward in my platform. During the Q&A with Students in Communications, Aurelle mentioned that she wasn’t against my point of financial independence. I hope that she uses the position towards that goal because I would love to see it get achieved, no matter who does it.”
The VP Communications role will be held by Chaise Combs, and VP Events is Alix Devlin.
Combs’ platform points included developing an annual marketing and communications plan, enhancing FASA’s newsletter, utilizing FASA’s Street Team, creating student leader profiles and “educating members through online platforms like Reddit.”
Devlin’s campaign focused on improving consultation for events, hosting more fundraising events, keeping students engaged, building relationships with Indigenous student clubs and boosting solidarity with fundraising events in collaboration with racial justice organizations.
“Arts students, and students in general, are facing many challenges such as tuition hikes and budget cuts, which are quite devastating. These platform points have the goal of uniting students to fight back against these challenges and have their voices heard in a grass-roots kind of way,” remarked Devlin.
The VP External position is being removed from the council, and so did not receive any candidacies this year.
At a Students’ Legislative Council (SLC) meeting on March 30, the Students’ Union (SU) voted to implement a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote of confidence for uncontested candidates in SU elections, meaning that candidates will no longer be acclaimed. This is in similar fashion to how FASA has been running their elections, which Salmassi says is a “chance to earn our legitimacy from arts students.”
Spivak also commented that she prefers the yes/no vote.
“As a candidate, you want to earn the trust and the votes of the people you’re meant to represent. It forced me to talk about my platform and connect with people rather than sitting back and waiting for the polls to close. I think that the ability to vote against an unopposed candidate is important, especially given that some FASA executives sit on important committees, such as the Faculty Council. You want the right people to represent you in these meetings.”
To read the full details of each candidate’s campaigns, check out the candidates page on the FASA website.
This article has been updated to include comments from Alex Devlin.