Despite a series of significant financial setbacks so far, the Arts Undergraduate Society President Dave Marshall is still optimistic about the coming year.
Navigating the issues, Marshall said, requires the AUS to renew its vision and reinforce its principal duties.
“Yes, it’s an unusual year, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad year,” he said. “It’s a re-imagining,”
For example, AUS has launched an initiative to coordinate with companies which are in the interest of students and students’ futures.
“Companies find the Faculty of Arts a great place for recruiting students, and students benefit a lot from information about where they can get job opportunities,” Marshall said.
Elements of this strategy are already in place. Last week’s Bar des Arts was co-sponsored by Rogers, which ran a contest that included a Blackberry as a prize.
At the practical level, AUS is automating and digitizing some tasks, such as bookkeeping, to reduce overhead.
“We’re getting smart with a lot of the things we do, to reduce redundancy and streamline our processes,” Marshall said.
Marshall emphasized, however, that the AUS prioritizes the student body over innovations.
“We’re students first, not necessarily politicians,” he said. “The AUS is big in and of itself, but we’re nothing without our departments. Our success comes from their success. We need to find a way which ensures that we are financially stable while not detracting from the ability of our department associations to make progress.”
AUS has invested in an online collaborative tool comparable to the WebCT system, called ARTSNET, for the departmental associations to use.
Marshall emphasized that regardless of budgeting concerns, student amenities will not be hurt.
“There are a lot of expenses that we have to face that are significant,” he said. “Things like our contributions to the Arts Student Employment Fund. We’re not going to reneg on that because it’s something that’s good for the students.”
Problems with AUS Frosh and a federal back-tax collection have caused AUS’ financial difficulties.
“It’s come to the point where this year many issues have come to their maturity, with an expiration date, and now we have to deal with everything,” said Marshall.
However, Marshall views the obstacles as opportunities to better understand which organizational and financial strategies work best for the AUS.
“This year allows us to wipe our slate clean,” Marshall said. “I think it’s a really powerful year for us.