i stand with you

By now, we all know of the horrendous attacks that hit Paris last week with over 120 dead and countless more injured. We were all horrified by these attacks on innocent civilians.  President Meric Gertler has conveyed his deepest sympathies to the victims and any students who may be affected by this tragedy.  I echo his sentiments.  To our students who may be affected by this tragedy, to our students who have family in France, may have lost loved ones, or who are in a study abroad program — I stand with you.  However, I’d also like to take this opportunity to reach out to some of our students who may not be feeling safe on our own campus this week.

Following events in Paris, there has been a string of hate crimes that has hit the Greater Toronto Area.  This past weekend, a mosque in Peterborough sustained damaged in an arson attack (thankfully, the amount needed to repair the damage was quickly raised).  A family woke up to find “Muslims go home” scribbled on their door.  A Muslim woman donning a hijab while walking to her local school to pick up her kids, was viciously attacked by two men.  She had her hijab ripped off, was repeatedly punched in the stomach as the assailants yelled “terrorist go home”.  A video has also surfaced in Quebec where a man threatens to “kill an Arab a day”.

These horrifying attacks, coupled with the hate that has been circulating on the internet — has some students, especially those students who are Muslim feeling vulnerable and afraid.  Seeing hate is one thing, having people you trusted all of a sudden be exposed as islamophobes on Facebook can be quite traumatic.  This type of hate has existed before the tragedy in Paris however. Muslim women who don the hijab will tell you of all the stares and quiet whispers they get on the subway, or the comments about a barbaric religion and its followers made in the lecture hall.  However, the tragedy in Paris has amplified some of this hate.

To all those students who may be feeling a heightened sense of fear, or are afraid for the well being of their families — I stand with you. I am a student and I am a Muslim. But this has nothing to do with being Muslim.  It is about standing in solidarity with our fellow students against the forces of bigotry and hate.  This week has been exhausting for many of us.  Take care of yourself my friends.   The world can, at times, feel like a depressing place with mass murder and acts of bigotry being broadcasted to us daily on the evening news.   It’s okay to turn off the news.  It’s okay to cry.

But know that our university community is here with you.  Universities are supposed to be bastions of human rights — in reality, they do not function as well as they should in that capacity.  But we, as students, as faculty members, as staff – can demand better. Just as we came together to say that U of T is a feminist campus when we were under threat, let us come together to say that we are a campus that does not tolerate the forces of hate, bigotry and violence.

The last few days have been tough to deal with.  Take care of yourselves friends.  If you do not feel safe on campus, you can contact Campus Police or the Community Safety Office. If you need someone to talk to, my ears are open.  You can reach me at president@assu.ca.

in solidarity,

Abdullah Shihipar


The City Series

The City Series

The Arts and Science Students’ Union (ASSU) is proud to present a series of seminars on issues pertaining to our city this semester.  From the Blue Jays, to references to the 6ix, to anti black racism, to the state of our transit system, we cannot escape conversations about our city. Join us, as we ask in our events, what makes our city unique and how do we make our city better?

SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE CITY with Shawn Micallef and Councilor Norm Kelly
Thurs. Nov 12th – William Doo Auditorium – 6:00 pm

We are in a State of Emergency: Anti-Black Racism in Toronto
with Desmond Cole
Tuesday Nov 17th – Hart House – 7 PM

TTC Town Hall with TTC CEO Andy Byford
Thurs. Nov 19th – Innis Town Hall – 6:30 pm



ASSU is committed to providing a space that is inclusive, accessible and accommodating to all people. If you have any concerns about the accommodations and accessibility of this event, please contact Abdullah Shihipar at president@assu.ca.


Nicholas Grant

No statement submitted.


Stephanie Lim

My name is Stephanie Lim and I am a third year student pursuing a double major in Peace, Conflict and Justice Studies and Contemporary Asian Studies. I currently serve on the Contemporary Asian Studies Student Union in an executive capacity. In this capacity, I have become well acquainted with the functions and responsibilities of a course union; as well as the symbiotic relationship between ASSU and the course unions. If elected, I intend to work to further ameliorate this relationship, as well as that between ASSU and the greater U of T administration. Another initiative I hope to focus on this year is improving the first-year U of T experience.

The first-year at U of T can be an incredibly academically and socially period; however, with the proper support it can also be extremely rewarding and an opportunity for personal growth. In order to provide this support for first-year students I hope to pursue several initiatives at the beginning of the year such as:

· Creating a pamphlet with study-tips and information on fairly unknown but useful academic and personal resources available on campus

· Hosting a panel breaking down U of T governing structures and how first-year students can become more involved

· Host first-year specific mixers and events

In addition to these initiatives, if elected I’d also like to:

· increase funding to course unions

· streamline the process for applying for funding

· continue hosting fun stress-relieving events with refreshments


Alexander Verman

As a wise father figure of mine said “I’ll be there for you, I will care for you.”

That father figure was Drake, and it’s one I share; champagnepapi meets UofTpapi. I’m here to take care of students.

Writing for The Varsity for years, I’m tired of watching people politicking instead of working for their constituents. What I want is to help, by improving the daily academic lives of Arts and Science students at UofT.

That means making information about our classes accessible. I’d require course dropping dates and criteria on the first page of all syllabi, and for independent studies to produce a syllabus-like document that outlines expectations on student and staff participants, so no one ends up stressing over a class they didn’t want. I aim to secure administration funding for a physical anti-calendar for years to come, and to work with course unions to make our support easy to navigate for even the most sleep-deprived. I hope to begin developing a central UofT grad school service, where ASSU can work with and push the administration to develop a single site through which we can learn about and apply to graduate programs at UofT.

Lastly, I want to enhance ASSU events, advocacy, and accountability, drawing on my experience with the Association of Political Science Students executive, Jewish organizations on campus and the BDS coalition.

I know that this faculty can be tough to navigate alone; vote for a UofTpapi who’s here to take care of you.



Interested in student activism? Passionate about the education experience? Want to make a difference in the Faculty of Arts and Science?

At the beginning of October, there will be a by-election for two executive positions in the union. If you’re passionate and can commit the time, why not consider running?

Executives are required to make executive meetings, work on projects, and hold 4 hours of office hours a week to run. You must be a full time Arts and Science student to be eligible to run.

Nominations are open until Sept. 25th at 5 PM and forms can be picked up at the ASSU office. Come into the office to pick up a form and find out more about the position.

The election will be held October 5th at 6:30 pm.

Letter to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander

You can read the pdf version of this letter here.

– – –

Hon. Chris Alexander, M.P

Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

365 Laurier Avenue West

Ottawa, OntarioLetter to Minister Alexander



Dear Minister Alexander,

We are writing to you today as concerned global citizens. Day after day, we continue to watch heartbreaking images of families fleeing the civil war in Syria. Often, this is a treacherous journey – families pile up on dangerously overcrowded boats or trucks and risk their lives in seeking safe refuge. We have seen the human cost of this mass exodus, in dead men, women and children.   Those who survive the journey are left in limbo in refugee camps that are overcrowded.   As we see the world reacting to this crisis, we are left asking ourselves, what exactly is Canada doing?

The UNHCR and European Union have described the present situation as a crisis, and some EU member states have stepped in and accepted Syrian refugees. Sweden has accepted 40,000 Syrian refugees since the conflict began, totaling 20% of asylum seekers who have reached Europe. Germany has accepted close to 40%. In fact, just this past week, the German government announced that they expect to take in up to one million asylum seekers this year alone.

Canada, in comparison, has only committed to taking in 10,000 refugees over the next three years. This number is hardly proportional to the crisis, which has created over 4 million refugees according to the UNHCR. Instead of properly responding to the crisis, the Canadian government has been content to demonize refugees, attempting to deny them basic health care and use rhetoric that criminalizes people whose only crime is fleeing persecution. As Canadians, we can and must do better. We cannot ignore human suffering.

Today, we are calling upon the Canadian Government to accept more refugees from this crisis. As a students’ union whose membership includes Syrians and Syrian-Canadians as well as people from all corners of the earth, we cannot stand idly by as people continue to die seeking safe refuge.

Canada has a proud legacy of standing up for human rights in the international stage. Keeping this in mind, we hope your government acts swiftly in response to this crisis by accepting more refugees to our shores.

Thank you.


The Executive of the Arts and Science Students’ Union, University of Toronto

Statement from ASSU President

Racism is still a thing fyi.


Statement from ASSU President on Passing of Bashir Osman

Statement from ASSU President Abdullah Shihipar.

Inna lilahi wa ina ilayhi rajioon.

I was saddened to hear of the tragic loss of FOSIS (Federation of Student Islamic Societies – the equivalent of the Muslim Students’ Association in the UK) President, Bashir Osman yesterday and offer my deepest condolences to his family and friends and FOSIS. Bashir, was a committed activist and advocate for Muslim students in Britain. He will inshallah be remembered for all of the good work he did for his community, for his fellow students and for humanity.

As a global community of students, the work one does in one country has a far reaching impact on us all.  Students and Muslim students in particular have lost a great friend and advocate.



Know Your Rights

This week, many of your courses which have instructors who are on strike will be meeting as called by the department to discuss a vote to change the syllabus.  Members of the ASSU Executive tonight witnessed a department chair make statements that are not correct in regards to the syllabus.

Over the weekend, you would have received an e-mail from Dean David Cameron in regards to the Faculty of Arts and Science opening up the ability to declare CR/NCR (Credit/No Credit) or drop the course after you have received your marks.  The Faculty website says:

For all courses offered this term (both S and Y courses), and even in cases where numeric grades will be available, students can elect Credit/No Credit (CR/NCR) or choose to cancel (drop) a course  without academic penalty.  The CR/NCR will not count towards students’ 2.0 FCE maximum.  The deadlines for both these options have been extended until after students have seen their final grades.  Precise dates will be posted on the Arts & Science website shortly. Please continue to check this website regularly for updated information.

This applies to all courses. Not just courses on strike, not just courses affected – all courses. If your department chair in the meeting claims that while you have an option, if you vote to reject the syllabus – you may not be able to access the aforementioned options of declaring CR/NCR or dropping the course, please bare in mind that this is not true.

You can vote anyway you like for the syllabus – but keep in mind that the syllabus votes only governs changes to the marking scheme (how things are weighted, when they are due, etc.).  Declaring credit/no credit, dropping a course, or anything else – are not governed by the syllabus.  While ASSU does not agree with the academic continuity measures the Faculty has chosen, we will defend your rights to use it.

We have also heard of courses choosing to pass syllabi changes with caveats – “we will not have the exam if the TAs are still on strike by this date.“. This is not fair to our students, nor do we believe this is allowed. Please report all of these instances to ASSU.

Keep in mind, there is no active policy allowing departments to step into your course and administer it. This includes forcing you to hand in assignments directly to them, or conducting syllabus votes. If you choose to challenge the department in this regard (ask them for the specific policy that allows them to do this) – you will have the support of the union.  

ASSU will be meeting with the Faculty shortly – e-mail: students.assu@utoronto.ca with your questions and complaints.

Latest CUPE 3902 Statement

Statement from ASSU Executive:

Dear students,

Tonight you may have received an e-mail from Dean Cameron in the Faculty of Arts and Science informing you of your options going forward as the strike enters its fourth week. These options include using a letter grade system or CR/NCR system in place of numeric grades in classes where the instructor has been on strike. In addition to this, the Faculty has said that it will allow you to drop the course or use CR/NCR after you have received your grades. This is quite concerning.

While this may seem like a great thing, we urge you to take a step back and look at the grander picture. The university is throwing its academic integrity and your education out the door. You didn’t come here to just receive the credit and you paid thousands of dollars to receive an education – things you aren’t receiving right now. While these measures may provide a solution that allows students to graduate while not extending the term, they are precarious. We have all worked hard and now the integrity of all of our course work this semester is in jeopardy because of these measures. For a university that normally is quite concerned with maintaining a high standard of difficulty; these types of measures are shocking.

This allows us to save face for our GPA, due to a labour disruption that we did not cause, but it does not make up for the lost class time. These types of measures are in a way insulting. What the university is saying to us undergraduate students is that, here’s your credit to pacify you. That the credit and our GPA is the only thing we are concerned about, that we aren’t here to learn from our instructors. Fundamentally, university is willing to risk its own academic integrity as opposed to addressing the grievances that CUPE 3902 members have put forward.

E-mail cheryl.regehr@utoronto.ca and tell the Provost’s office to negotiate in good faith.

Many students have also come forward with concerns with regards to the department intervening in interrupted courses and implementing syallabi changes. From our correspondence with the Faculty of Arts and Science, the Faculty believes that this is allowed however has yet to point to a specific policy in the Academic Handbook that allows for this. ASSU believes that a syllabus is a contract between an instructor and a student – not the department and the student. As such, only the instructor can push for a vote to change things.

If a vote is being pushed in your class by the department, you can kindly request that they show you the policy that allows them to do this. The Academic Continuity Policy has not been enacted by the Provosts’ office so therefore – there is no policy. You can challenge departments on this and ASSU will be there to support you.

We’d also like to remind you of your syllabi rights:
– that is you have the right to vote on a change to the syllabus and that this change needs to be announced one class beforehand.
– in the options presented, you must be able to reject any changes or keep the original syllabus. You cannot be penalized for this. This is your right.
– you have the right to a secret ballot.

We have heard reports of coercion and of students not feeling comfortable, to our students, we say stay strong! These are your rights and we will help defend them.

If you have any further concerns or need to report anything – please visit us at SS1068, e-mail us at students.assu@utoronto.ca, tweet us, message us on this Facebook. We may take a while to respond – but we promise, we will respond.

Yours in solidarity,
The ASSU Executive

ASSU Candidate Statements

Here are the statements for candidates in our executive elections.

Candidate for President

Abdullah Shihipar

Hey y’all. My is Abdullah Shihipar and I am currently the President of the Arts and Science Students’ Union (ASSU) and I’m running to seek a second term.  This year, together with our students, ASSU council and the executive, we have managed to accomplish a lot.  We have transformed the way students’ see the union.

We host academic talks and lectures – such as bringing Ta-Nehisi Coates to campus, we have held fun distressing events and coffeehouses, we have boosted our presence on social media and we have run effective campaigns this year, from advocating for international students rights to ensuring that students’ know their rights in the classroom.  Our council has been more active and featured in more discussions in setting the mandate of the union.  Even when crises come up, the strike for example:  we have responded with swift action.

As President this year, I am proud of the work my team has accomplished in the short span of a few months and I would like to be able to finish the work we started this year.  As the Faculty embarks on its petitions overhaul, I’d like to see mental health be better integrated. I’d like to continue working towards an improved course evaluation system and I want to continue to ensure that the union and the university are safe, positive spaces for all students. I hope you will give me the chance to work with you and other students as we continue to move the union forward.

 Candidates for Executive (4 positions available)

Lisa Chen

I am finishing my second year, both at U of T and as an executive on the Arts and Science Student’s Union. I started as an executive on ASSU in the first semester of my first year and have seen both the union and myself grow in terms of in terms of accomplishments and future aspirations. During my time as an executive, I have started a web series called ASKU to introduce students to lesser known resources on campus, helped with the International Student Survey to bring awareness to issues faced by International Students on and off campus, sat on the committee for improving course evaluations, and ran a “Decorate Your Own Cupcake” event during Mental Health Awareness Month. I currently serve as the secretary of HPSUS (History and Philosophy of Science Undergraduate Society) and have an excellent understanding of ASSU both as an executive, and as a course union executive. In the Faculty of ArtSci, I also represent students to the administration as a Humanities Rep on the Arts and Science Faculty Council, Student Rep on Curriculum Committee, and Student Rep on the Academic Appeals Board. I understand and experience the needs of the average student and have learnt the culture and policies of the faculty administration during my two years working with them. My plans for the upcoming year are to continue pushing for canned comments and improved user friendliness on the course evaluations, as well as hold more mental health awareness and support events throughout the year.

Colby Chubbs

My name is Colby Chubbs and I’m running for the Arts and Science Student Union Executive. I’m a third year student completing a double major in Political Science and Philosophy, with a minor in English; and within my studies, I’ve also taken courses within Classics, Slavic Languages and Literature, and History. My main experience consists of two years’ service within a course union – the Association of Political Science Students – where I began as a College Representative to being elected to the Executive, still currently serving. I have become well acquainted with the essential processes and operations that go into providing the various functions organized by a course union, and the duties and services that a course union must uphold. I intend to take my prior experience in a course union and actively apply it unions on a larger-scale – with three times the vigor and passion – in ensuring that course unions of all stripes are able to meet their objectives that are vital for all students within the Faculty of arts and science.

That being said, my objectives include:

  • Further building on ASSU’s role in communication and deliberation with course unions
  • Ensuring that course unions have the essential resources and space for organizing events and opportunities
  • Ensuring that the services of ASSU and course unions are easily accessible to all Faculty students, fostering inclusiveness and solidarity

Crystal Gao

Looking back, this has been an exciting and productive year for ASSU council. As a current executive, I have witnessed the enthusiasm and important work of our course unions. I have also gained valuable experience and insight on academic issues faced by students.

Next year, I hope to continue building on our advocacy for more equitable academic policies, a more inclusive international student experience as well as a comprehensive course evaluation system which includes feedback on TA’s and student comments. In addition, I will work extensively with the Faculty to improve first-year academic experience and create more experiential learning opportunities. As well, I hope to continue the project I launched this year called #feelbetterdobetter, a series of events to give students mental health resources and fun activities for stress-relief.

Most importantly, I want to give greater focus to our 60+ course unions who I recognize, do the bulk of the work to engage students through weekly and monthly events, workshops and seminars. I want to start the year with a budget consultation with you all to increase funds, support and resources for course union initiatives because I know that your outreach efforts form the backbone of what we do. I also want to revitalize our website so that your events are prioritized front and centre and bring our special projects funding requests online.

Thank you for helping us achieve an unprecedented year of student engagement and advocacy. I hope to serve you again next year on the ASSU executive.

Ondiek Oduor

Hi! I am running to be an Executive on ASSU. I am currently in my third-year studying Social-Cultural Anthropology and Book & Media Studies with a minor in Women & Gender Studies.

I have held a wide array of positions during my three years at the university. I am the Male Head of Non-Resident Affairs at Trinity College – which means that I am the Head of the Non-Resident Affairs Committee, and of all commuter students at the College. On top of politics, I work with a brilliant team of Heads as essentially student dons. I sit on several committees, such as the Finance Committee, Board of Stewards, and the Senate. I am also both the Co-Chair of Students for Gender Equity and the Secretary for Rainbow Trinity at Trinity College.

Additionally, I intern for Life at U of T as a part of the Student Life Community Crew, and have became adept at using social media platforms (cat videos) to engage with students. I will continue ASSU’s expertise in social media to ensure that students are aware of the countless services that the Union provides.

My focus will be to make the student experience more equitable both inside and outside the classroom. I want to work together with Course Unions to help make that their structures and events are equally accessible to students regardless of their identities. I will strive to lessen the academic, social and financial burdens that often seem unavoidable in student life.

Thank you for your consideration.

Harrison Perry-Daiter

My name is Harrison Perry-Daiter and I am running for election to the Arts and Sciences Students’ Union Executive. I am a second year student majoring in International Relations and European Studies, with minors in Russian and Spanish.

I have been a firm advocate of student activism throughout my academic career. Pursuing broad reform, I presented my speech “Sexisme dans la Langue Francaise” before a forum of Ontario secondary school French Language Department heads, for which I was awarded the Emblem of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.

Having graduated high school among the highest academic performers in Canada (99.3% average), I was designated one of fifty Class of 2017 President’s Scholars of Excellence.

I hold leadership positions in many student groups, including Vice President-Academic of the Slavic Languages Student Union. Acting upon our members’ right to efficient course evaluations, we are working with the Department to facilitate access to internal reviews, drawing from standardized year-end student feedback. Among my other student leadership initiatives, I serve as Vice President of AFTER UofT. I co-organized our inaugural Professional Development Conference, a full day even that featured thirty guest speakers, and accommodated over three hundred students.

While building upon ASSU’s successes, my targets for 2015-2016 include efficient course evaluations, by offering accessible sessional feedback on professors, course instructors, and teaching assistants. I would also apply ASSU’s broad student outreach to promote engagement in Course Union events of all sizes.

Natalie Petra

My name is Natalie Petra and I’m running for the ASSU Executive. I hope to complete my degree with a double major in Public Policy and Peace, Conflict, and Justice Studies. Over my five years at the University of Toronto, I have held a wide variety of leadership positions, including Director of Finance of Hi-Skule, Chair of Leadership Development during Frosh Week, Annesley Representative on Victoria College’s Sustainability Council, and member of the University of Toronto New Democrats. Outside of school, I have extensive experience, and was appointed to the Bradford Public Library’s Board of Directors, as well as elected President and LGBT Representative of the York—Simcoe NDP, and to the Ontario NDP’s highest governing body, Provincial Council.

I’m passionate about undergraduate student issues, both academic and social, and I hope to be able to make a difference and improve our community. If elected, I hope to:

1) Work with Course Unions and the University to implement mid-term course evaluations in Arts & Science courses (particularly Y courses) so that professors can listen to feedback and adjust to better help students achieve success.

2) Fight for fairer fee structures and financial support for struggling and low-income students.

3) Fight for better mental health support and services.

4) Work to increase funding for Course Union events and outreach.

5) Work with Course Unions to increase advocacy and support for students who feel unsafe in class.

I would love to have the opportunity to learn and serve on ASSU.

Alexandra Rusu

The increased collaboration between course unions and the ASSU is the basis on which my platform stands. Better access to course midterms and exams can be facilitated through better communication between unions such as the EEBU, ESU, and CSSU. This will better allow students to be more comfortable with the subject matter of the course that they are taking, as well as make them more comfortable with taking courses outside of their specific disciplines. Better communication means the ASSU being in closer collaboration with the student unions encouraging social ties through social events and encouraging the promotion of ASSU and past-midterm collection in their courses. I am also for the bringing back of the anti-calendar into students hands.