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.

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