Learn about the initiatives and goals of some of ASFA’s member associations
Representing over 20,000 students on campus, the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) is made up of more than 20 Member Associations (MAs) with the goal of organizing academic and social events for their students. The Concordian spoke with members of a few Arts and Science MAs about the work they’ve done this year and the projects they hope to continue in the future.
The goal of Concordia’s Undergraduate Psychology Association (CUPA) is to benefit students in psychology and neuroscience with both social and academic activities. “We really try to reach as many students as possible to make their Concordia experience more inclusive,” said Samantha Briand, the 2016-17 CUPA president. According to Briand, with approximately 1,400 students in the psychology department, it can be intimidating to get out there and interact with other students.
For their social events, CUPA collaborates with other student associations, such as the COMS Guild and the Biology Students Association to organize pub crawls where students go to different bars and complete a series of challenges. CUPA also organizes “Sexpo,” a kiosk aimed to inform students about sexual health. It is held every year during Valentine’s Day week at the Loyola campus. “We are the first association to endorse rapid HIV testing on campus,” Briand said. “We created this initiative and included it in our Sexpo event.”
The association’s executives also recently held an event at a cottage up north where 60 students were able to participate in different workshops related to academic success, such as how write an academic CV and how to get into grad school.
For the first time this year, CUPA participated in the annual psychology case competition alongside McGill, Université de Montréal and Université du Québec à Montréal. During the competition students presented on three main topics within the field of psychology. According to Briand, CUPA decided to form to break down barriers between Concordia and McGill, and also between English and French universities.
Students of History at Concordia (SHAC) is an association that represents undergraduate students, professors and graduate students in the history department. “We host events where we invite professors and any students to really create this bond within the department,” said Athena Sita, this year’s SHAC president. “Every semester, we host a meet-and-greet for new and returning students where we have trivia games and play card games,” she said.
The association also hosts a panel discussion every year called “WTF to do with your History Degree?” where multiple guest speakers with history degrees working in various fields come to speak with students. “One of our guest speakers was a project manager at Bombardier, and another one was a teacher. This shows all the different aspects of careers through a history degree,” Sita said.
SHAC also brings together students and teachers to watch historical films and form discussion groups afterwards. The association also hosts a coffee break every two weeks, where professors sit down with students to discuss ongoing events around the world over coffee and snacks. “One of the coffee breaks was after the shooting at the mosque [in Quebec City], and our professors came to talk with us which made us realize that, if we are feeling unsafe, we can always talk to them about our insecurities,” Sita said.
Concordia’s Law and Society Student Association (LSSA) focuses mainly on hosting academic-based events. They organize workshops where representatives of the University of Toronto and University of Ottawa law programs come speak with students to help prepare them for applying to law school and inform them of the expectations the universities have for their future students. LSSA also organizes wine and cheese events throughout the year, along with speaker events where lawyers are invited to semi-formal evenings to interact with students in a more casual setting.
“The association has existed for three years, and it has been [improving] each year. Our workshops are becoming more and more packed,” said Karinne Légaré, this year’s LSSA president. “We want to be the third party, the liaison between students and speakers or guests.”
According to Légaré, this year, the team has focused on expanding their network. For example, for the first time this year, the association got in touch with Concordia alumni who helped the association reach out to various guest speakers.
Next year, Légaré said the LSSA plans on getting in touch with law firms to potentially find internships that they can inform student body about.
The Political Science Students’ Association (PSSA) holds many different academic events related to the various concentrations available to political science students. For example, the association organizes board game nights related to international relations. “There’s a huge amount of the student population in political science who study international relations, and therefore, we learn strategic relations,” said Veronika Rydzewski, the PSSA’s VP internal.
The association also organizes different workshops where students can learn more about public speaking and how to use the Robert’s Rules of Order, a method which is used to conduct meetings. It is used during meetings for other student groups, including the CSU and ASFA. “We also have debate practices every week,” Rydzewski said.
In addition, every year, a team of 20 to 25 students compete in Les jeux des science politiques against universities across Quebec and Ontario. The event is a case competition focusing on political subjects. Every year, 250 students meet to compete in this event.
The PSSA also organizes social events, including cinq à septs, trivia nights and end-of-year parties. Rydzewski said she believes students are enthusiastic and engaged in the events, and she is looking forward to seeing the creation of new projects and the continuation of successful projects next year.
The Communication Studies Student Association (COMS Guild) represents and hosts various events for students in both the cultural studies and communications programs.
“For the communications program students, we organize Prod Fest to show the different videos that students have produced over the semester,” said Catherine Dubé, the COMS Guild VP of cultural studies. “For the ones who are in the cultural studies department, we give them the opportunity to showcase their work in a journal that was initiated five years ago by the then-VP of cultural studies.”
This academic journal, called The Medium, is a peer-reviewed academic journal taking submissions every year from students looking to showcase their best essays and works. The essays are reviewed by the editorial team who is composed of fellow undergrad communications students, with the VP Cultural studies acting as the editor in chief.
The association also organizes panel discussions where they invite communications professionals and alumni to discuss the types of careers a communications degree can lead to.
COMS Guild also organizes social events, such as back-to-school and “Meet the Guild” events in the fall semester for students who want to meet their student association executives. The association also organizes its own end-of-semester parties.
The Women’s Studies Student Association (WSSA) is ASFA’s smallest member association. “The fact that we are the smallest and newest, I would say that maybe our organization is less strong than other MAs,” said Éléonore Schreiber, a member of WSSA. The organization was formed three years ago.
According to Schreiber, the focus for the WSSA this year was to bring students together and strengthen the association’s presence within the department to ensure students in women’s studies were aware they have a student association.
“We also do study sessions with cupcakes, fruits and coffee where students have a chance to meet,” Schreiber added.
This year, the WSSA organized a fundraiser for Solidarity Without Borders which was held at Reggies. Solidarity Without Borders is a justice network based in Montreal that brings people together to support individuals confronting an unjust immigration and refugee system.
The WSSA also raised funds for this year’s black speakers series at the university, where various African-American activists shared their life stories and experiences with students and teachers.
“[We] very happy that we are able to bring support to both of these important organizations,” Schreiber said.
In the future, the association wants to create more events to allow women’s studies students to connect more with one another.
The Loyola College Student Association is the student group representing those enrolled in sustainability studies and diversity & the contemporary world minors. The association focuses on developing a close-knit relationship with its student body while also promoting sustainable and healthy living through workshops and events. Jenny Kuan will be the president of the LCSA for the 2017-18 year. The group’s leadership in the coming year will also include Matthew Leddy as the VP of sustainability, Elisa Cohen-Bucher as VP of communications, and Stephanie Inumerable as VP external.
“Due to LCSA’s small size, there is a closer relationship with its student body,” Kuan said. “If a student has a project or idea they would like to see taken into fruition, there is a much higher chance of it actualizing.”
The LCSA holds a number of events annually, including Cooking With Prof Nights, where students can enjoy healthy meals while getting to know their professors. The association also organizes workshops focused on sustainability and conservation. The workshops, which Kuan said the LCSA hopes to continue hosting next year, cover a wide range of topics, including creating DIY, environmentally-friendly cosmetics and beer. These workshops are available to the public and educate students on how to live sustainably and prepare homemade, eco-friendly products.
On April 12, the organization will be hosting an art exhibit at 5 p.m. at the Hive Cafe. The event, which will feature live music and work from students and Montreal artists, will be open to the public.
The Concordia German Language Student Association (CGLSA) will be led by Shugofa Danesh, the organization’s president for the 2017-18 year. The CGLSA’s leadership will also include Morgan Rutty, VP of social affairs, Eleftherios Flavaris, VP of marketing, Ainsley Albert VP of finance, Taliesen Herb VP of academic and Frederic Leone, VP of internal affairs.
The group hosts numerous events throughout the year, including weekly coffee hours, where students can share coffee and refreshments with their peers while practicing their German language skills. The group also organizes an annual German-inspired essay competition, and hosts an annual trivia night event in collaboration with the Italian Student Association.
In the upcoming year, the CGLSA is hoping to make an impact in their department through a petition against the currently planned suspension of the German Minor, the only academic program offered in this field at Concordia. “The upcoming petition will be taking place in front of the Hive in the Hall building,” said Danesh. “We have created an online petition as well to increase reach.”
Danesh added the organization hopes to be able to protect the German studies program on campus, while enriching Concordia’s campus through the promotion of German language and culture.
With files from Megan Hunt