Newly elected AIAS board members seek to bring together students of all design majors

Their goals include hosting events, working with other design clubs and keeping up the ASU architecture journal

The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) at ASU is prioritizing for the coming semester with new goals and plans to keep up traditions at ASU after holding elections to determine its 2017-18 officers. 

Sophomore Brandon Powell, current events director, said the new AIAS board will be pushing for greater involvement with the other student design organizations and hosting monthly events.

“Right now, since we are design-diverse, we have a lot of members that aren’t necessarily in architecture,” Powell said. “But at the same time, we don’t pair with other organizations."

Powell wants to work with the other student organizations at the design school, such as the Latino Architecture Student Organization (LASO). 

“For the Beaux Arts Ball this year, we’re involving ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) and IDSA (Industrial Designers Society of America)," Powell said. "So we thought: ‘Why not next year have it be truly a Beaux Arts Ball and how it’s supposed to be: the French ideal of all design (instead of just architecture).’”

The Beaux Arts Ball is AIAS's annual party hosted at the end of every spring semester. Despite being historically attended by architecture students almost exclusively, Powell said this year AIAS is encouraging design students of all types to come and bring friends.

A large part of AIAS's semester general and event-specific funds come from the Undergraduate Student Government Appropriations Committee, which AIAS must petition for general and event-specific funding. USG will be the gatekeeper to funds AIAS will need in order to put on events for the 2017-18 academic year.

Senior Rene Duplantier, who currently serves as the AIAS treasurer, said the amount of funds obtained from USG varies based on who is serving on the committee.

“It depends on the students who are elected to USG because they’re elected the same way we are,” Duplantier said. “They’re also a student organization, so it’s all a process of learning to understand each other, making sure that you’re communicating properly, and I guess, I’d say overall just being able to clearly articulate why you need the money, what you need it for and how it benefits ASU (and) the student body as a whole.”

But the AIAS board members do not think USG will be hard to work with this semester. Powell, who will be vice president and informally reassuming his current role as events director, said working with the USG Appropriations Committee will likely be easier in the coming academic year.

“I think they’re a little more flexible and understanding of what we’re trying to do,” Powell said. “So when we’re saying, ‘We’re going to need a lunch budget because we’re going off-campus to tour a firm, and we’d like to provide our members with food,’ they’ll say, ‘Oh, OK,’ rather than, ‘Well, it’s off-campus. It’s none of our business.’”

Furthermore, Duplantier asserted that passing on a good relationship between AIAS Treasurer and the USG Committee will be important.

Another important goal on the new board's agenda is to continue and strengthen "Discipline, the Architecture Journal for Arizona State University." 

Senior and current president of AIAS, Olivia Raisanen, said Discipline was created three years ago by a former AIAS historian and has consistently been a major priority for the club.

"This year, it's been made into a class," Raisanen said. "So going forward, the position of historian is always going to be involved with that."

Raisanen said the journal has become such a large and successful endeavor that it is too much for only a few people to handle. 

Junior Nika Pniak, 2017-18 president of AIAS, is in the special topics class that helps produce and publish the journal. She said it is important to have the AIAS historian in the class each semester because it better preserves and privileges the journal's connection with the club. 

Partnering with other design clubs for events, financing the events themselves and keeping the journal running strong are the responsibilities to which AIAS will give the highest priority in the coming year. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @laconicshamanic on Twitter.

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