Meet Your 2020-21 Arts Undergraduate Society

McGillians, we're pleased to introduce your 2020-2021 Arts Undergraduates Society (AUS) staff. Below, some of this year’s AUS members share insights on their roles and responsibilities as well as some key facts about who fills each position. Take this chance to get to know your student organization and all they do for Arts students’ social and academic lives.

President

Ananya Nair: U3, studying Economics and Finance

The AUS President’s role is mainly to coordinate and supervise the affairs of the AUS, with respect to the mission of the Society and be the official spokesperson for the AUS in a manner consistent with the policies set up by Council and the General Assembly

What does the AUS mean to you? Why did you want to be a part of it?

I have always seen AUS as an organization that gives me, an Arts student, the agency to strategize and implement changes that I wish to see both in the student life and academic spheres. This is my third year at AUS, and each year has given me the opportunity to work with a wonderful team and create small, but hopefully impactful, changes on campus.

What are your goals for this upcoming year?

My main goal this year has primarily been…

  • To build synergies across the different AUS portfolios and teams and support each executive in successfully transitioning their portfolio to a remote environment.
What is your favourite AUS initiative or event and why?

I served as the AUS VP Academic last year and the programs run under the academic portfolio will always be dear to me. From the Arts Student Employment Fund to AUS Peer Tutoring, each service and opportunity offered by this portfolio has a direct positive impact on the AUS constituents' academic life. The portfolio, in my opinion, optimally uses student fees to provide funding and services that would otherwise be either paid or inaccessible to the students in our faculty.

What is your advice to incoming students this year?

My advice for this year’s incoming students would be to find ways to deeply engage with every aspect of university life. Whether it is reaching out to professors, academic advisors, or your student government, put yourself out there and reach out to them. If there is one thing I’d have liked to have been told, it would be to stop hesitating or second-guessing decisions and reach out to as many people/mentors as possible. It’s definitely going to be a hit-or-miss kind of situation, but the hits will compensate for the misses in the end.

What services do you feel are most underutilized by students?

The AUS Peer Tutoring Service and AUS Essay Centre are *free* academic services. The goal of the AUS Online Peer Tutoring Service (OPT) is to provide an easy and accessible way for students to get the help they need during the difficult times of remote learning. Using this website (https://auspeertutoring.simplybook.me/v2/), students can book sessions with tutors specializing in an array of arts courses. And the best part: sessions are available at different times throughout the week to accommodate you, no matter where you may be learning from!

How is AUS doing things differently this year, due to COVID-19? Will there be in-person events or will everything be online?

AUS has transitioned all its operations online. At the moment, neither AUS nor its departments are holding in-person events. More details regarding portfolio-specific changes can be found in the Memorandum on AUS Operations in Fall 2020 which can be accessed here.

Follow us on the following platforms or keep an eye out for our bi-weekly listservs for our upcoming online events:

https://www.instagram.com/ausmcgill/

https://www.facebook.com/ausmcgill


VP Social

Grace Jumbo: U3, studying Art History, History, Marketing, and Communications

    The VP Social organizes social and cultural events for AUS members while working with VP Internal and VP Communications to run events and seek student input, respectively. The VP Social also seeks new partnerships with other groups in partnership with VP External. They oversee the operations of Bar des Arts, hire and chair the AUS Frosh Committee, coordinate the Event Planning and Involvement Committee (EPIC), among other things.

    What does the AUS mean to you? Why did you want to be a part of it?

    I've been involved with the AUS since my first year. Ro me, the AUS is representative of the greater interests and priorities of all Arts students. Over the past four years, I have come to realize how many of the AUS’ decisions impact the daily lives of Arts students, so I wanted to be a part of that process and help improve the Arts experience for everyone.

    What are your goals for this upcoming year?

    My goals for this year are to:

    • Make sure that every Arts student, no matter where they are currently located, feels like a part of the McGill and Arts communities.
    • Help people connect with friends and with Montreal through online events and initiatives. I hope these events can be something to look forward to despite the somewhat dark time we are living through.
    What is your favourite AUS initiative or event and why?

    My favourite AUS event is Bar des Arts! This will be my 5th year working at BdA, and I think it is a great way to make friends outside of your classes. While I am not 100% sure what this will look like given COVID-19, I am confident we can capture what this event stands for and find ways to bring it to students, even if it might not be in its traditional format. I've been researching possible platforms for this and following along with the public health guidelines to see if it could be possible to host an in-person event this year.

    What is your advice to incoming students this year?

    My advice to incoming students is to get involved! There are so many ways to get involved at McGill (i.e. committees, clubs, just attending events, etc.), and by choosing to participate in these things, you never know who you may meet. I have McGill to thank for all of my best friends, and I hope you get involved, too, so you can meet the same amazing people!

    What services do you feel are most underutilized by students?

    I think the most underutilized service is the AUS Essay Centre. I'm in History and Art History, so I write quite a few papers, and I'm always looking for ways to improve my writing. I think this is a great and simple way to get a fresh perspective on your paper!

    How is AUS doing things differently this year, due to COVID-19? Will there be in-person events or will everything be online?

    The AUS will be following the provincial health guidelines, so depending on how these guidelines change we will see what will be virtual and what can be held in-person!


    VP Academic

    Catherina Musa: U3, studying Economics and Finance

    What does the AUS mean to you? Why did you want to be a part of it?

    To me, the AUS is a vital institution that links both students and the administration. AUS is a voice that continuously advocates for students at every level and decision that we are making. I align with this vision and I want to be part of that voice that holds the Arts Faculty accountable to its diverse body of students. I wanted to join AUS because I am very passionate about advocacy and representing students on subject matters that affect them. I am happy my position as VP Academic really focuses on this.

    What are your goals for this upcoming year?

    My goals for this year are to:

    • Make sure that our core services are accessible to students and academic resources are known to students.
    • Ensure that academic teaching is preserved during remote learning and if students are having difficulties or challenges in their courses, they can submit an academic complaint form using my linktree, which contains other important resources.
    What is your favourite AUS initiative or event and why?

    My favorite initiative will be the AUS Online Peer Tutoring (OPT), which my portfolio just launched this year. With the school year being remote, it was essential that we provide accessible tutoring services to students so they can book tutors from different departments all under one platform.

    What is your advice to incoming students this year?

    I know this is starting to become an advertisement,but please read the AUS listserv. There are a lot of useful resources and important information on the listserv including what goes on within the Arts faculty, ways to get involved, external opportunities, and academic resources. Read the AUS and department listservs!

    What services do you feel are most underutilized by students?

    The most overlooked service is the Arts Internship Office (AIO) and the Essay Centre. The AIO helps connect students with summer internships from a variety of industries and also helps provide funding for unpaid internships, which is extremely helpful. The Essay Centre was a huge lifesaver in my first year and I found out about this resource by reading the AUS listserv! If you need an extra pair of eyes for your paper, please utilize this important resource!

    How is AUS doing things differently this year, due to COVID-19? Will there be in-person events or will everything be online?

    Currently, there are online events due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and the announcement of remote learning during the winter semester.


    VP Finance

    Stefan Suvajac: U2, studying Economics and Anthropology

    The VP Finance oversees day-to-day financial operations. The VP Finance also sits on the Arts Faculty Employment Fund, the Arts Career Advancing Program Oversight, and the Arts Internship Office Advisory Committees. Finally, the VP Finance supports other AUS executives in the delivery of their mandate and balances internal financial priorities to ensure effective delivery pf AUS’s broader mandate and long-term financial sustainability.

    Other responsibilities include:

    • Overseeing, implementing and writing AUS's budget (which in a normal year, is about $1.1 Million) and AUS's yearly audit
    • Manages/keep AUS's financial records
    • Sets internal financial /budget control policies
    • Supports Departmental Association VP Finances
    • Oversees SNAX Café in Leacock and the Ethical Business Practices By-laws
    • Chairs the Financial Management Committee (along with distributing it’s funding grants) and the Arts Undergraduate Improvement Fund Committee.
    What does the AUS mean to you? Why did you want to be a part of it?

    AUS represents the intent of the Arts student body to act collectively. Likewise, it represents the desire for Arts students to take an active role in the development, improvement and implementation of programs and services which are essential to their well-being and success as students at McGill University. Simultaneously, it is a place where students can get involved, have great opportunities, meet friends, and build community. Overall, a very flexible resource for improving the life of arts students at McGill! I joined the AUS because I wanted to improve the organization’s internal practices, try making a small positive improvement in the lives of students and the experience of AUS stakeholder/service users, challenge myself, and meet new people!

    What are your goals for this upcoming year?

    My goals for this year are to:

    • Make sure the AUS Finance Portfolio makes a relatively seamless transition to digital operation.
    • Continue to improve internal bookkeeping practices and expand resources for AUS Departments, Committees and Affiliates.
    • Fully implement a higher standard of Sustainability and Ethical Procurement in AUS.
    • Better publicize AUS funds students can apply to and make the application process clearer/more user friendly.
    • Use the closure of SNAX as an opportunity to improve some of its internal practices.
    • Fully implement AUS’s Arts Specific EEO program, a project I’ve been working on in collaboration with SSAO since last year, which helps cover the cost of Enriched Educational Opportunities (unpaid internships, studying abroad, field studies…etc.) for students in financial need.
    What is your favourite AUS initiative or event and why?

    I think the variety of funds from AUS fees do incredible work. The ASEF (Work Study and Faculty Employment Funds), AUIF (Library Improvement and Building/classroom improvement), ACLF (Ferrier lab and laptop lending) provide amazing resources to students at very little cost to each of us individually when we pay the fees.

    What is your advice to incoming students this year?

    The year will be bizarre – a deeply unconventional introduction to university. Don’t be too hard on yourself as you make this adjustment, and allow yourself to be proud of taking up that challenge. Likewise, take breaks and allow yourself to “step-back” sometimes. Things take longer in the world now than they did before, so make sure you change your expectations and recognize that. Generally, don’t always hold yourself to the same expectations, allow them to change as you and your circumstances do.

    What services do you feel are most underutilized by students?

    I think AUS’s Laptop lending program is highly underused. The Fine Arts Council (FAC) fund does not receive enough applicants. It has ~$25-30K allocated to support students’ creative work on/off campus, and only a fraction gets spent or applied for! The Arts Undergraduate Employment Fund (AUIF) does not receive enough, or sufficiently ambitious, proposals from students about how they want the library, Arts building, and Leacock building changed/renovated. I also think Arts students don’t know enough about the incredible work the AUS Work Study subsidy does for students in need. Likewise, I think the Arts Undergraduate Theater Society (AUTS) is not recognized enough for their work.

    How is AUS doing things differently this year, due to COVID-19? Will there be in-person events or will everything be online?

    Mostly making the adjustment to online service delivery. Likewise, for my portfolio adjusting to some of the financial pressures this year (due to lower engagement) while trying to maintain (or improve) service delivery. As far as my portfolio is concerned, everything will be online! I suspect the same is true of others.


    VP Internal

    Joy Hannam: U3, studying International Development, Health Geography, and Psychology

    The AUS Internal’s main role is supporting AUS departments by helping them connect with AUS resources and much more. They plan departmental orientation, assist in legislative council and other needs of the constituent. They also oversee the First-Year Council of the AUS (FEARC) and the AUSec council as well.

    What does the AUS mean to you? Why did you want to be a part of it?

    The AUS to me represents leadership, student government, as well as guidance. One of the reasons why I wanted to be a part of the AUS is because I looked up to many of the executive members in my previous years at McGill and this was just something that I wanted to do to help the greater McGill community.

    What are your goals for this upcoming year?

    My goals for this year are to:

    • Help make communication between departments as easy as it can be.
    • Answer any questions related to departmental issues that may come up.
    • Given the COVID-19 restrictions unfortunately much of my portfolio has been diminished but that doesn’t mean that the connections and networking will stop within the AUS.
    What is your favourite AUS initiative or event and why?

    One of my favourite AUS initiatives is the AUS Equity Commissioners, which I think is important in keeping transparency and equity within our systems.

    What is your advice to incoming students this year?

    Make sure to get involved in clubs virtually, as it is a great way to find your interests and familiarize yourself with McGill’s environment.

    What services do you feel are most underutilized by students?

    I think the writing centre and other similar resources are very beneficial to students. They are free, which is really great to help with academics.

    How is AUS doing things differently this year, due to COVID-19? Will there be in-person events or will everything be online?

    In light of the new circumstances, everything in my portfolio will most likely remain online.


    Arts Rep 1

    Paige Collins: U2, studying Political Science and History

    An Arts Rep acts as the go-between for SSMU, AUS, and Arts students to ensure both that Arts students’ voices are heard and addressed at both AUS and SSMU levels, and to pass on information from both of these groups to the broader Arts community. The Arts Reps sit on the AUS and SSMU councils and committees. Additionally, each of the Arts Reps sits on faculty committees to even more effectively advocate for students.

    What does the AUS mean to you? Why did you want to be a part of it?

    To me, the AUS embodies the independent and resourceful spirit of Arts students. In this sense, the AUS demonstrates the capacity for students to shape both their own undergraduate experience and that of others. Getting involved with the AUS has enabled me to be a part of something larger than myself, and has offered me a lens into the diverse student body. I have made amazing friendships, and have gained invaluable political and professional experience.

    What are your goals for this upcoming year?

    My goals for this year are to:

    • Address post graduate employment opportunities for Arts students
    • Improve the university experience for those who are disabled or differently abled.
    • Address the prevalent mental health issues in McGill students across faculties.
    What is your favourite AUS initiative or event and why?

    Work your BA! There are so many opportunities for Arts graduates, and I love that the AUS has an annual event to showcase them.

    What is your advice to incoming students this year?

    Get involved! Whether that means a club, committee, or student government, joining one of the many student-run initiatives on campus is an excellent building block in establishing your little McGill community and really feeling at home here. Just run for that position; even if you lose your election, no one will remember or care.

    What services do you feel are most underutilized by students?

    This is my first year with the AUS, so I am probably the wrong person to answer this, but I strongly encourage everyone to use the essay centre!

    How is AUS doing things differently this year, due to COVID-19? Will there be in-person events or will everything be online?

    I will defer to the AUS President, but I am quite certain that the AUS will be following all protocols mandated by McGill University and the province of Quebec.


    Arts Rep 2

    Alex Karasick: U3, studying History and Political Science

    What does the AUS mean to you? Why did you want to be a part of it?

    The AUS to me means a way for Arts students to have their voices heard and listened to within all levels of student organization, as well as within the administration and faculty itself. I want to be a part of it because I want to advocate for Arts students, as well as advocate for certain key issues to me which I campaigned on (that being said, it seems my pro-Samosa stance - albeit not actually the most important issue for me - may not be something I can achieve).

    What are your goals for this upcoming year?

    My goals for this year are to:

    • Make sure we can keep everything accessible for students of McGill Presents: Zoom University! These are some big changes, both for students and faculty/admin, and so it's more important than ever to make sure students aren't getting left behind or ignored by either the AUS/SSMU, or the administration itself.
    • I also have the smaller side goal of hopefully being able to (safely of course!) set foot in Gerts this year.
    What is your favourite AUS initiative or event and why?

    To be honest, I'm not sure I have a single initiative that's my favourite. We've done so many cool and great initiatives in the past, that picking just one is awfully hard.

    What is your advice to incoming students this year?

    My advice to new students coming in this year is to schedule, schedule, schedule! Especially in zoom university, where you aren't going to classes and handing things in physically, it can be very easy to lose track of when things are happening and when things are due.

    What services do you feel are most underutilized by students?

    Honestly, all our services could be more utilized! (Don't get me wrong, there are absolutely people who use all of them, but many people aren't aware we have them at all). However, the essay center would probably be my pick if I had to say just one.

    How is AUS doing things differently this year, due to COVID-19? Will there be in-person events or will everything be online?

    For now, it seems most or everything that the AUS does will be online. That includes events, council, and even our office hours!


    Arts Rep 3

    Chip Smith: U3, studying History and Political Science

    What does the AUS mean to you? Why did you want to be a part of it?

    The Faculty of Arts is the largest faculty, which makes it challenging to develop a unique identity, especially when compared to smaller faculties such as Education. For me, the AUS acts as a way to foster a sense of community for Arts students and connect them with so many incredible opportunities, both on and off-campus. Being part of the AUS means helping to enhance that sense of community, not only for those who are currently studying within the faculty, but also for those who will be joining in the months and years to come.

    What are your goals for this upcoming year?

    My goals for this year are to:

    • Help develop a deeper understanding of the positive impact that student government can have on the student experience at McGill.
    • Make AUS services more transparent to students. Many students often hear of the acronyms “SSMU” and “AUS” but don’t really know what goes on in each, what services they provide, or how they can get involved and shape their school community.
    What is your favourite AUS initiative or event and why?

    Without a doubt, my favourite AUS event is BdA (Bar des Arts)! As I mentioned earlier, the AUS really is an incredible community builder for students in our faculty, and BdA is a testament to that! Plus… one can never complain about a good grilled cheese!

    What is your advice to incoming students this year?

    This is going to sound incredibly corny, but my honest advice to incoming students would be to never be afraid of trying something new! There are so many incredible opportunities here at McGill and it can definitely be easy to get stuck in a “bubble” and miss them. If there’s a class that you think sounds cool, give it a shot! If there’s an event (whether virtual or hopefully soon, in-person) that you think you’d be interested in, check it out! You genuinely don’t know what opportunities may be ahead!

    What services do you feel are most underutilized by students?

    I genuinely wish that someone had told me in my first-year about the AUS Essay Centre! Writing is one of those skills that everyone (even the best-selling authors) can always find room to grow and improve on and the AUS Essay Centre is one of the best services to help students improve their writing skills!

    How is AUS doing things differently this year, due to COVID-19? Will there be in-person events or will everything be online?

    The coronavirus crisis has really taught us all about the need to be adaptable and creative, and the AUS is no different. Earlier in the year, we shifted gears into working online and we’ve been operating that way since! Our staff at the AUS have been extraordinary in helping to navigate this strange and virtual “new normal”. In my role as an Arts Representative, this has meant our bi-weekly Legislative Council meetings, committee meetings, and my office-hours have all become virtual. I wouldn’t say that it’s my favourite way of operating (especially as I am not someone who’s well skilled with technology), but it’s been a unique experience so far.

    Back to top