The Tyler Student Alliance was formed in order to give individual departments and degree programs their own say.
During the Spring 2009 semester, the Tyler School of Art made its big move from Elkins Park, it’s home for more than 60 years, to Main Campus.
Tyler students are still getting acclimated to life post-Elkins Park, which is why several students are working together to create an interschool student government, the Tyler Student Alliance. One student spearheading the coalition is Mary Jachetti, who also serves as the school’s Temple Student Government representative.
“Tyler is such a large school, and it has so many different departments, with so many different needs that it’s easier for it to have its own group, where each one of it’s departments are represented,” Jachetti, a sophomore art history and studio art major, said.
She added that issues for Tyler students weren’t just departmental but lied with degree programs as well.
At Tyler students have two options, to earn a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Fine Arts. The B.F.A. program requires a significant amount of studio time for one art concentration, so sharing space was an issue.
“Some students didn’t even know they were B.A. or B.F.A. students, and they weren’t very willing to share the space that was there,” Jachetti said, adding that students also had some problems communicating with the Tyler administration.
Students, she said, felt they couldn’t talk with the administration about problems they were having, such as students with fears about whether administrators were going to shut down certain classes. Students wrote a petition, and instead of taking it to the Tyler administration, they took it to Temple President Ann Weaver Hart.
“The alliance will give the students a voice within [Tyler] and make them feel more at ease with administration because they will be able to meet with the dean, associate dean and director of student activities on a regular basis,” Jachetti said, “so if they have a problem, they’ll feel like they can go to the Tyler administration.”
But that’s just an overview of Tyler students’ needs. The overarching issue is that, for the first time, Tyler students from all departments and programs are learning under one roof. The alliance will help students adjust to sharing the same studio space, said Theresa Kitch, chair of Tyler student life.
“The students are used to being separate and independent,” Kitch said. “Now that they are on campus, and everyone is in the same building, there’s a need for [a student government] kind of structure within the student body.”
Kitch is also responsible for helping Tyler students feel connected with Main Campus student life and organizations, something she said students need. In addition to the Tyler Student Alliance, she writes a blog, Tyler Student Life, which she said she hopes students use as a resource for getting used to the new student life.
Kitch provided Jachetti and other students involved in the alliance with an old constitution from the alliance at the Elkins Park Campus to use as a foundation for the students’ new group.
The next meeting, Jachetti said, will focus on coming up with a constitution and deciding the structure of the alliance.
Jachetti added that TSG and its members are aware of the alliance’s formation and said they felt that it was an interesting concept. The alliance will in no way be competing with TSG. Instead, she said, it will merely serve as a “centralized place” for students to voice concerns.
Overall, this new student government within Tyler is about promoting unity — unity among students and unity within each department and program.
“Hopefully, by the end of the semester, it will be a very productive reality for Tyler,” Kitch said. “That’s what I’m hoping for.”
Joshua Fernandez can be reached at email@example.com.