HUMSU invites you to creatively “witness” humanity

The writing and visual arts contest is open to all SFU undergrads

A human statue looking up behind a red background.
PHOTO: Wilhelm Gunkel / Unsplash

By: Petra Chase, Arts & Culture Editor

Editor’s note: Sara Wong, who was interviewed for this piece, is a former Peak employee. The Peak acknowledges and has taken steps to prevent conflicts of interest or potential bias from influencing the article.

SFU’s Humanities Student Union (HUMSU) invites SFU undergraduate students to submit their creative writing, academic essays, and visual art to their contest, “Witness to Humanity.” Bringing students across faculties together under their shared and unique experiences of being human, the theme is all about reflecting on the history of humanity with a modern perspective. From the “delightful” to the “atrocious,” there is a vast pool of inspiration to find creative inspiration from. 

The department of global humanities at SFU intersects with many different fields, which is part of the appeal for many students. “Humanities is such a broad, interdisciplinary subject,” Sara Wong, president of HUMSU told The Peak. “I love that it can be applied to so many different areas of study, but I feel like sometimes that’s also its Achilles’ heel. Since humanity equates to being human, it’s easy to discount ‘witnessing humanity’ as an uncomplicated, everyday experience [ . . . ] The thought behind the contest theme is to dispel the idea of looking at humanities as abstract.”

For each category, a winner will receive a $100 visa gift card, a feature in a future publication, and an “award of excellence” certificate. All of this will be announced and celebrated at the 2023 Humanities Showcase next month. The contest gives the opportunity for students to explore the themes from different artistic approaches: creative writing may encompass poetry, short stories, and prose. Visual arts can include anything from sculptures and paintings to graphic design. The guidelines recommend interpreting historical resources into your piece, which can encompass a “seemingly infinite amount of information.”

The winners will be announced at the HUMSU gala ceremony in April, which is “for students, by students; celebrating the arts and bringing community together.” The English Student Union and History Student Union are co-sponsoring the event. The gala is free to attend for contest participants and follows a formal dress code. Everyone in the SFU community is invited!

HUMSU is still finalizing the details of the upcoming “Witness to Humanities” publication, but it draws inspiration from their past academic journal, inter/tidal. “I’m proud of all the events and initiatives we’ve spearheaded, especially while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, but this contest feels like we’re really taking things to the next level,” said Wong. While she noted that she and the HUMSU vice president are graduating soon, she said, “HUMSU’s future is solid with [the new members] around, and hopefully that includes more contests or opportunities to recognize student work.”

All submissions are due by March 24 at 11:59 p.m.. Follow HUMSU on Instagram for updates, at @sfu.humsu. View the guidelines and more information in the Google doc in their link tree.