AST wants in on university politics

Student to be part of debate on provincial issues

The Atlantic School of Theology is located on Francklyn Street in the south end of Halifax. (Photo: Marie David)

Located across from some of the nicest properties near Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, the small Atlantic School of Theology has decided to break out of its tiny shell and become more involved in provincial university politics. 

“We’ve existed in isolation too long at AST. We’re such a small group of people that we don’t have a big voice,” said Kent Greer, AST student union (ASTSU) president, over the phone on Friday. 


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The Atlantic School of Theology has a close student union relationship with Saint Mary's University.

The AST has about 40 full-time students, most in graduate programs. It doesn't have to recruit students like most universities. Instead, students seek out the school or are referred by their church pastors.

Since more than half of the school’s student body comes from out of province, said Greer, the interest in local university issues is quite low. This is something AST hopes to turn around.

Becoming a part of the bigger picture 

The school is looking for a student to take part in a semi-annual student assembly hosted by the Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Association (ANSSA). 

Greer, who attended the event in the fall as a guest, believes this opportunity is significant for the school to become more aware.

“Education and awareness is what we are trying to bring to AST and what we are trying to bring the wider community is yes, we are there with you,” he said. 

“We’re such a small group of people that we don’t have a big voice. But, standing with everybody else is probably a better way for us to take part in that.” 

This is the first year that a student from AST has been formally invited to attend the assembly. 

Affiliation opens door  

AST is too small to be a direct member of ANSSA but the school has an affiliation with Saint Mary’s University, which is a full-time member. AST students pay into the SMU student association (SMUSA) for their healthcare, U-Pass and other services that the school cannot obtain on its own. By paying into SMUSA, AST indirectly pays into ANSSA as well. 

“Typically we’ve gone and developed policy direction, advocacy direction for the organization without their input,” said Matthew Anderson, SMUSA president.  

SMUSA has a five-seat maximum at ANSSA and, until this year, all the seats have been filled by Saint Mary’s students. In an effort to engage AST students, SMUSA wants someone from the school occupy one of the five seats.  

 “It will give (AST) a chance to influence policy,” said Anderson.

However, that is not the main reason Greer wants the AST presence there. 

 “Awareness of the issues is the first step. And we are in those first steps because we really just ignored what’s been going on before and let SMUSA do all that stuff for us,” he said. 

The event will take place on Feb. 4 and 5 at Acadia University in Wolfville. Greer feels that since some of AST’s students are from the Annapolis Valley that they would be better candidates to go.

If a student does not volunteer, Greer said he will go. But he hopes someone else from the school will attend so there will be another voice on campus to contribute to discussions on policy issues.

 

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