ASSU is looking for VOLUNTEERS for the Fresh Start Conference – a one-day conference for students who have experienced academic struggles at U of T – focusing on resiliency and developing skills for success.

The Fresh Start Conference is organized by the Academic Success Centre, the Arts and Science Students’ Union, the Career Centre, and the Faculty of Arts and Science Registrar’s Office and STEP Forward initiative.

• We need 10 student volunteers for the day
• There are 2 shifts: 5 students from 8:30am-1:00pm & 5 students from 11:30am-5:00pm
• Students will receive a $15 gift certificate to the U of T Bookstore (and breakfast + lunch OR lunch – depending on the shift)

If you can help out on Saturday, February 6, 2016 please email students.assu@utoronto.ca




Join the Arts and Science Students’ Union and Centre for Study of United States on Tuesday Jan 26th at 6:30 PM for a screening of the Academy Awarding winning film, CITIZENFOUR at Innis Town Hall.

Directed by Laura Poitras, it follows the story of Edward Snowden and the 2013 leak of NSA documents. A Q&A session will follow with Snowden attorney and Director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, Ben Wizner. Moderated by Citizen Lab Director, Professor Ronald Deibert.

No registration required, film will begin at 6:30 pm sharp.  Seating is on a first come, first serve basis. Event is open to public. 

Ron Deibert, (OOnt, PhD, University of British Columbia) is Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary research and development hothouse working at the intersection of the Internet, global security, and human rights.

Ben Wizner (@benwizner) is the Director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project. For nearly fifteen years, he has worked at the intersection of civil liberties and national security, litigating numerous cases involving airport security policies, government watch lists, surveillance practices, targeted killing, and torture. He appears regularly in the global media, has testified before Congress, and is an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law. Since July of 2013, he has been the principal legal advisor to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Ben is a graduate of Harvard College and New York University School of Law and was a law clerk to the Hon. Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Munk school event page: http://munkschool.utoronto.ca/csus/feature/film-screening-citizenfour-dir-laura-poitras/

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/213298499011426/

on academic lectures

Over the past year and a half, I have been privileged to have the opportunity to organize some of ASSU’s academic seminars. From Ta-Nehisi Coates to Desmond Cole to Wab Kinew to Ben Wizner, seminars are part of our mandate as an academic union. Learning exists beyond the boundaries of the lecture hall, and we want our members to engage critically with the world and the topics presented. Ask questions, start conversations and take action. Intellectual engagement and academic curiosity is a key part of ASSU’s mandate.

But academia has its limits. We can take social justice classes where our classmates say cringeworthy things. We can take classes where the professor or a course text says things rooted in discredited ideas, long since abandoned. As bell hooks says, the classroom is not paradise. As great as speakers like Wab Kinew and Ta-Nehisi Coates are, and as honest their material is – I do acknowledge that these events attract progressive intellectuals and the middle class. There is a privilege inherent in attending lectures like this, and the danger is if we attend these lectures thinking “that was a good talk” but don’t critically engage beyond that. Our speakers have much to contribute, but we must make sure that we are getting as much as we can out of it, or we face a real risk of basking in the spectacle of academic lectures.

As a union, we have long believed that the academic experience and the lived experience are one and the same. The topics that are up for discussion are very much real, and not just interesting areas of academic inquiry. As a union, (that this year happens to have a majority POC executive) we believe in academic inquiry, but we also believe in grounding academia in the lived realities and experiences of people. We believe in anti-oppressive action, in using academia as a tool of liberation and social justice.

As you attend our lectures and events in the next few months, keep this mind. Ask yourself what can I do to take the speakers words and put them into action? This will be esp. relevant as we discuss the outcomes of the Truth and Reconciliation Report.

I leave you with one of our favourite quotes at the union, on our website, from bell hooks:

“The academy is not a paradise. But learning is a place where paradise can be created. The Classroom, with all of its limitations, remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom.”