On Saturday, April 21, the College of Arts and Sciences hosted its first annual Rock the CASbah event, a year-end bash with free food and live music featuring Deadmau5’s former songwriter and partner Steve Duda to bring College of Arts and Sciences students together. The president of the College’s student council, Abdallah Fayyad, economics and mathematics ’15, helped organize the event to raise awareness of the newly revived council. “We want to let students know that we’re here for them,” he says. “We hope to be an advocacy base for the students.”
The council, which has been inactive for a number of years but was revived in fall of 2011, has four officers and a student representative from each of the College’s departments. They meet every Saturday to discuss issues within each department. “We talk about what students feel is needed in each department in terms of academics and social issues,” Fayyad says.
The council chairs have since met with Dean Peter Starr to share these issues, and Fayyad says he’s been very responsive. “Some students had issues with the size of certain departments, and Dean Starr explained some of these would be addressed in the new campus plan,” he says.
Fayyad ran for president of the council last semester with the goal of bringing a stronger school council influence to the student government. “I think there are a lot of inefficiencies when it comes to how the student government deals with academic concerns,” says Fayyad. “School councils could play a role in improving that.”
In his opinion, AU’s student government has an agenda packed with social issues, but academics don’t get as much attention. “I think it should be about social and academic issues,” Fayyad explains. “We can’t guarantee that we’re going to fix students’ problems, but we can let the faculty know about them, and hopefully students can get some answers.”
While this is the eventual plan, this year, the council worked on building stronger academic ties within each department. “We started talking about improving on the academic fraternities and societies in each department,” says Fayyad. “We have a few, but we’re hoping to strengthen them and bring in new ones. We want CAS students to be well represented.”
In the long run, Fayyad hopes to foster pride amongst CAS students. “Unlike other schools here, CAS students identify themselves by their department because the College is so big and diverse. We have 17 departments,” he says. “We’re really hoping to create a bond between CAS students as a whole.”