As students vote in a new Students’ Union executive team, arts students will also be voting to renew a Faculty Association Membership Fee (FAMF).
This year the Organization for Arts Students and Interdisciplinary Studies (OASIS) is running a campaign to renew their FAMF, which provides academic support, social events, and grants for undergraduate arts students. OASIS has currently been operating without their FAMF this year due to low voter turnout during by-elections.
Representing OASIS in this Q&A are OASIS FAMF volunteers Chris Beasley, a fourth-year political science student, and Ana Isabel Oliveira de Melo, a fourth-year MLCS student.
Follow this link to watch OASIS’s FAMF pitch video.
The following interview has been condensed and simplified for clarity.
What is this FAMF trying to accomplish?
Ana Isabel Oliveira de Melo: We’re trying to get OASIS the funds it needs to continue its mission of advocating for students, and providing fun and academic events as well as student grants. If we are able to achieve this FAMF, OASIS can provide arts students over $18,000 worth of grants. OASIS also has on-site services, such as free printing for all our students, and all of that requires money and funds which is why OASIS is charging $3 for arts students per semester. We also have food events such as our cereal bar last year. The FAMF constitutes 89 per cent of OASIS’s funds.
Chris Beasley: The mandate of OASIS as a faculty association is one where we would like to continue providing high-quality programming to art students. The unfortunate reality is that this costs more money than OASIS can bring in through a lot of other means, other than the $3 FAMF. What OASIS hopes to continue to do is continue to provide our students incredible value for that $3. That’s why we’re hoping that we can pass this through a referendum.
For those who don’t know, what is OASIS and what do you do for arts students?
Beasley: OASIS is the faculty association of elected art students and we do two things — I like to see it as like two sides of the coin. OASIS does a lot of representation. OASIS is on arts faculty council and are the ones who chat with the Dean of Arts and any members of the arts faculty. OASIS is really the student voice in a lot of those places. The other side is, a lot of the times faculty associations are like service organizations, and that looks like student grants and the events that OAISS puts on.
The most wonderful thing is a nice interplay between the two because a lot of people either come to know OASIS through a representation, or they’ll come to know OASIS through the services it provides and then come back for representation needs.
If it passes, how much will Arts students be paying for this FAMF and how was the cost determined
Oliveira de Melo: Our students will be paying $3 per semester and part-time and full-time students will be paying. OASIS decided on this fee-based largely on a survey they sent out to all our students back in the fall, as well as from consultations of departmental associations. OASIS’s executive council decides what our budget looks like and what we could potentially achieve with a $3 per month per semester budget plan.
Why should arts students’ care about this FAMF?
Oliveira de Melo: The reason why our students should care for this is because OASIS really wants to be able to put out events and services for our students, but without the FAMF, there is a very limited scale of events that it can do. For example, this year even with a pandemic, OASIS was able to put monthly events on Zoom such as game nights and the Arts Gala. OASIS was are also able to do academic events such as movie nights as well as create journals where students can showcase their research. OASIS has also been able to start a newsletter. Last year before, before the pandemic, OASIS was planning to do Arts Con which would be a place where students could showcase their research in front of all their peers. Obviously, that’s not something they are able to do now because of the pandemic, but it’s something that if OASIS is able to get the FAMF, will be able to do next year.
Beasley: The biggest thing for me is return on investment. It is $3 a semester and we know that it’s always tough to ask students to pay money, but what OASIS has always prided itself on is providing good return on that investment, turning that into incredible services, incredible access to hundreds of dollars in grants that enable people to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do at all. [This includes] events and benefits that far outweigh the cost of a cup of coffee. Back on campus OASIS used to run free coffee events and my absolute favourite and corniest tagline in the world is that for the price of a cup of coffee every semester OASIS can give you a cup of coffee every semester. There’s an incredible return on investment that OASIS provides.
This situation is kind of dire budget-wise, because this was 89 per cent of our revenue back when we had $2.50 FAMF a year ago and now OASIS has gone a year now without any income from a FAMF. At this point in time, OASIS is looking at a year where it’s either going to have to scale back — and none of us are looking forward to that — or [if the FAMF passes] OASIS can continue to develop amazing things that they do and hopefully expand and do more great things as well.
Oliveira de Melo: For example, one of the things OASIS won’t be able to do if we don’t get the FAMF back is provide a granting program. OASIS doesn’t only support individual students, but it also supports the departmental associations that many students are in contact with such as the Political Science Students Association. We have granted them $800 for their events as well. So, if OASIS doesn’t have the FAMF, it’s not only OASIS that suffers, it’s also our smaller grass-roots organizations from each department.