Frond and Spore
An English Department Blog

Reviving the Albert Ross Undergraduate English Society

Author: frond-and-spore

Posted on Apr 4, 2017

Category: News , Undergraduate

Babineaue and Hong Picture

Since September 2016, Annabelle Babineau and Jadrien Hong have been working hard to revive the dormant Albert Ross Undergraduate English Society. They are the co-presidents of the society and have been joined in their efforts by Ella Ratz (VP), Lacey Little (Secretary), and Marissa Flinn (Treasurer).While an undergraduate English society has existed off-and-on for many years at UNB, usually under the name Albert Ross Society, in 2016, Annabelle and Jadrien decided give the group a “brand-new” identity, renaming it the Albert Ross Undergraduate English Society.

“We originally wanted to change the name, feeling like it was a little outdated to have the name of some old white guy in the name,” explained Annabelle, “but after learning that Albert Ross is actually a fictional character with a funny story we thought it was okay.” According to legend, the original Albert Ross Society was named after an undergraduate student who wrote an English paper on the poem Rime of the Ancient Mariner, without having read the poem, by incorporating what he had overheard about the poem from other students. The student, having misunderstood the word “Albatross”, re-invented the bird as a man named “Albert Ross.”

Initial efforts to re-start the society were hard, and it was not ratified by the UNB Student Union until October of this year. Nevertheless, Annabelle and Jadrien’s desire to cultivate a strong sense of community in the UNB English Department drives their efforts. The society is not exclusive to students in the English department, and in fact any student is welcome to join: “we really wanted to bring in new people” says Annabelle.

The Albert Ross Undergraduate English Society is also free to join, with the $200-a-year budget being supplied mostly by Student Union funding. Donations have also come from faculty and from the Cellar Pub and Grill, which supplied prizes. While changes in the union’s funding model make next year’s budget a little uncertain, the society has been given a “transition year” before they completely move onto the new model of funding, and Annabelle and Jadrien don’t feel worried about the funding changes.
The Albert Ross Undergraduate English Society enjoys the full support of administration and faculty, according to Annabelle and Jadrien. They note examples, such as support for the society’s Halloween event, as well as the strong professional and friendly relationships English students develop with their professors. Jadrien describes it as a “mentoring” relationship, where English faculty provide motivation, feedback, and emotional and academic support for students.

The society has been very involved in reaching out to potential UNB English students starting in high school, taking part in an event which included over four hundred grade-eleven students from Fredericton High School. While Annabelle and Jadrien feel that sometimes it is difficult to engage high school students, they successfully reached out to a large number of potential students and saw a positive reception to their efforts.

The co-presidents describe other society events as “low-key” and designed to help students cope with the stress of exams and finals. Examples include the “Beach Bash” and the “Colour and Cry.” which introduced students to the benefits of colouring to help manage stress and anxiety. The society also recently had its elections for society executives, where all executives were filled by candidates, some from outside the English department.

Annabelle and Jadrien feel that it’s important to engage incoming and current students with the English Department and the opportunities it provides because “English [literature] helps you grow, empathize.” Jadrien, in particular, feels she has more empathy for the extremely poor and for refugees after reading literature which describes their experience and conditions. She thinks a certain president might do well to read more literature.

Overall, the Albert Ross Undergraduate English Society has an excellent year so far, and Annabelle and Jadrien feel hopeful that the society will continue on a sustainable basis. They hope to launch next year with a new society logo and with efforts to branch out throughout campus and the community.

The Albert Ross Undergraduate English Society can be reached at englishsocietyunb@gmail.com or through their Facebook page.

Colour and Cry Event

Blog post written by Abram Lutes