Like many clubs at Boise State, the English Majors Association (EMA) was forced to adjourn prematurely after the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to campus life. Now, over a year and a half later, the organization is finally being revitalized with the goal of connecting English majors across campus.
Dr. Kyle Boggs is an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition at Boise State and the new co-advisor of the EMA. According to Dr. Boggs, he’s looking to take a student-oriented approach to this advisory role by facilitating the ideas and visions of EMA members.
“I’m a big believer in letting the students define [the EMA],” Boggs said. “I’m happy to throw out a bunch of ideas for them, but it’s ultimately up to the students to decide what they want to do.”
In the past, the EMA has hosted a wide array of events such as lecture series, book sale fundraisers and story writing contests — the most notable being the association’s Halloween scary story contest. Last year, the EMA even gathered a group of students to present at the annual Hemingway Symposium in Ketchum, Idaho.
Though the EMA was beloved by many, the pandemic posed an unanticipated challenge for the association: sustaining its leadership.
Dr. Clyde Moneyhun, former advisor to the EMA and a professor of writing, rhetoric and literary translation at Boise State, explained that he had already planned to pass off the advisor role, but with the sudden eruption of COVID, the association’s officer positions were also left vacant.
“I was due to cycle out as the faculty sponsor, since I’m going on sabbatical in the spring, so it seemed like a good time to pass the reins,” Dr. Moneyhun wrote in an email. “[Then] at the end of last year, all our officers graduated and because of COVID it was really hard to find new candidates, hold an election and get new folks up to speed.”
Despite the initial challenges facing the revitalization of the EMA, having a fresh start presents a unique opportunity for the newest cohort of members, and these students already have ideas for what they would like to see from the association.
For students like history and English literature double major Anastasia Al-Abdullah, the association provides an avenue for connecting with other English students.
“I’ve been keeping an eye on clubs or opportunities to connect with people who are pursuing the same discipline that I am, either in English or history,” Al-Abdullah said. “I saw [the EMA] as a way to connect with other people who have similar interests, similar goals … but I hope we get a diverse group of people who are pursuing different avenues within the English major community.”
Dr. Moneyhun echoed Al-Abdullah’s sentiments, stating that the association can help unite English students across the department’s vast academic landscape.
“The English Department has so many different concentrations … that many English majors rarely get to know each other in shared classes,” Moneyhun wrote. “EMA meetings and events are … not only a good way to meet people from outside your concentration, but also to find out how many ways there are to be an English major.”
Much like Al-Abdullah, English literature major Vanessa Glover hopes the EMA can serve as an avenue for connecting with peers. Though the pandemic has hampered the abilities of many students to engage with the campus community, Glover finds an added challenge in forming these relationships as a nontraditional student.
“I think I mostly just want to make some connections with other classmates,” Glover said. “I’m in my thirties and I work full time. It can be hard to connect with people on campus … so I’m just really looking forward to having that opportunity.”
Al-Abdullah expressed interest in the EMA hosting workshops and using its platform to “do something meaningful in the community or on campus for students.” Glover was drawn towards the idea of hosting discussions on current literature and recent events.
The contribution of student ideas will help lead the way towards reshaping the EMA, but the establishment of these new practices will largely depend on the number of students contributing to the association’s restoration.
“I’d encourage any English major from any concentration to join the EMA, and especially to become an officer,” Moneyhun wrote. “With the EMA making a fresh start in fall 2022, and (we hope) with COVID starting to be less of a problem, this is an ideal time to get involved and create new traditions.”