ASSU Fee Referendum

Dear Arts & Science Students:

The Arts & Sciences Students’ Union (ASSU) will be holding a Referendum on Wednesday, November 2nd and Thursday, November 3rd to increase the ASSU fee by $3 per term.   The last ASSU Fee Referendum was 6 years ago in the fall of 2010.  Since then, with the additional money from that referendum, we were able to increase funding to Course Union, provide more programming for students, as well as create and increase the funds, bursaries, scholarships and awards we provide.


ASSU traditionally operates on a 5-year plan – we are currently in year 6 and with the growth of our programming and the increase in the number of Course Unions we support, we are now operating on a budget that far exceeds our income.  ASSU still continues to operate on one of the lowest student levies on campus, but to continue the services we provide, we are asking our students to support a fee increase.  As well, there will be a second referendum question asking for our student levy to rise with inflation, a practice that most student groups on campus (including UTSU, APUS, GSU, etc.) already have in place.


The ASSU Office provides many services to A&S students – including guidance and counselling, photocopying and faxing, a term test library, print services, cold pop and answering students’ questions.  ASSU contributes to the undergraduate student experience by funding over 65 departmental and program Course Unions so they can organize academic and social events for their students. Behind the scenes, ASSU has successfully lobbied the administration for services and policies that directly affect our students – such as, the option of CR-NCR courses, the ability to drop courses until the last day of classes without academic penalty, the policy about Repeating Passed Courses, the implementation of the Wait List, the 24hr Robarts Study Space, the Interest Relief on Outstanding Fees (until November), the Revised A&S Appeals Process, ensuring that students had other options beside Turnitin to prove their lack of plagiarism, and the review a number of syllabi to guarantee that key components—such as accessibility statements—become mandatory.
Over the past years, we—as an organization—have led and organized a multitude of events, programming, and academic talks.  In addition, we have created numerous new awards, bursaries, and scholarships. Over the last 6 years, we have increased the amount of money designated towards awards and bursaries from $15,000 to over $35,000. The last referendum allowed us to dedicate $8,500+ to establish the now widely-known ASSU Travel Grant Fund to alleviate the financial burden placed on undergraduates who are invited to conferences to present their academic work. Furthermore, we created two endowed scholarships worth a combined $150,000. Finally, to further promote academic excellence at the University, we have worked with the Dean’s Office—setting aside $10,000—to create a joint fund to finance undergraduate research. If this referendum is passed, we will continue to follow the same pattern to ensure that more financial aid is given back to students who need it.


Every full-time student is a member of at least one of our Course Unions and receives the benefit of being represented by them, as well as being able to attend their free events.  We have increased funding to Course Unions over the years so they can continue to provide social and academic opportunities for their students.  The number of Course Unions we now fund has increased by 11 since 2010, with two more new ones joining us this year.


ASSU plans to continue expanding on our established programming and the lobbying work we do. This includes our bi-annual Exam Jam de-stressers, and our academic talks which have in the past featured prominent individuals such as Ta-Nahesi Coates and Wab Kinew.  We continue to work with and lobby the Dean’s Office for improvements to policies affecting our students – such as access to comments from the online course evaluations.


Most notably, we held a joint referendum last year asking students if they preferred to have an actual Fall Reading Week (one that lasts an entire week), rather than the two days that are currently allotted to us. The referendum was successful, and we are now working with the Dean’s Office to ensure that this change in the calendar will be instituted in the next academic year.
We hope that you will show your support for the Arts & Science Students’ Union by VOTING YES on November 2nd and 3rd to increase the ASSU fee by $3 per term.




The ASSU Executive

Fall By-Election Candidate Statements

Jina Aryaan

My name is Jina Aryaan and I’m running to be an executive on ASSU. As a third year sociology major with a double minor in French and Latin American Studies, I believe that my diverse educational interests and extra-curricular activities will enable me to make an exceptional contribution to the current ASSU team and existing initiatives.

As a past recipient of ASSU’s First Year Student Award, my passion for student advocacy and campus engagement has led to my executive involvement with numerous campus clubs from which I have gained much knowledge on the daily issues faced by students. Currently, I serve as an undergraduate representative on multiple ArtsSci Council committees, the UTSU clubs committee and Hart House Social Justice Committee. I’m also a student alumni ambassador, coeditor-in-chief of Her Campus, and the founder and President of the Spanish Student Organization.

I aim to improve the student experience by:

1) Establishing a course evaluation system for TAs and Professors to collect student feedback

2) Increasing funds and administrative resources for Course Unions to facilitate readily more inclusive and accessible events

3) Planning more events targeting first year and international students

4) Organizing informative events and activities on mental health support

5) Increasing ASSU’s social media presence to consistently inform students of the union’s services I recognize that there are diverse students with distinct university experiences, but I intend on uniting these students and establishing the conditions that allow for one shared university experience that meets everyone’s academic, health and social needs.


Danyal Damroodi

Candidate has removed themselves from the election.


Hilora Dewett

I go by the name Hilora Dewett (she and her pronouns) and I’m that one person that HAS to point out that something is problematic. I like to remember that if someone says they’re bothered by something, I don’t get to decide that they aren’t. With this in mind, I have experience as the Equity Director in the New College Student Council and view myself as a leader. I believe that in order for students to be successful in university and academics it is important to foster a safe space because everyone has a story and assumptions lead nowhere. I pride myself in having an open mind but also understand that being a leader along with being equitable and inclusive is an on-going journey and there is always more to be learned. With this position, I hope to maintain a safe, sustainable, well-represented and comfortable environment!”


Merrah Haq

In my four years at U of T, I have been involved in numerous clubs and different levels of their executive team.  Last year I was the Under-Secretary-General of two campus organizations, UTMUN and OMWHO.  Both organizations required me to change existing constitutions to improve the clubs functions, organize staff events throughout the year and produce a three-day conference.  While I love being a part of clubs around campus, I want to spend my last year improving campus life for my fellow students, under the ASSU constituency.  I am confident that my administrative and management experience will aid me in executive duties.  My familiarity with club needs and their mandates will help me be a good liaison.

ASSU’s maintains a unique platform, possessing the opportunity to confront various prejudices on campus.  The other I saw on ASSU’s twitter speak out against racist campus tweets.  Something we all appreciate in making student life a more positive and safe environment for everyone.  I want to expand and direct these efforts into other, also, worthy causes.  One initiative I would facilitate is making mental health support information readily available.  Offices around campus visibly provide contraceptives; similarly, it would be beneficial to have mental health help sheets.  These could include various supports available on campus, rights we hold as students, and just general tips on watching out for our fellow classmates.  In short, implementing practical measure that help people on a day-to-day basis, and making our campus, and it’s offices accessible for everyone.



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:

Facebook event page:

ASSU Presents: The Internet’s Own Boy

ASSU is proud to host an exclusive screening of The Internet’s Own Boy, as part of disOrientation Week 2014. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director, Brian Knappenberger. Join us on Friday, Oct 3rd at 7pm in SS2117.

“The Internet’s Own Boy follows the story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz’s help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet.

But it was Swartz’s groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two-year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Aaron’s story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity.

This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties.”

Reserve your spot today:

Exam Jam 2014 Edition

Exam Jam is the best way to get ready for finals

Exam Jam December 2013-1

Exam Jam  brings together some of the great resources on the St. George campus to help you get through the busy final exam and paper season. You don’t have to be an Arts and Science Student to participate, all of these free events are open to everyone. Come get a massage, make a button, munch on some healthy snacks, and attend a review session.

Exam Jam 2014 edition will take place on Monday April 7th in Sidney Smith Hall from 11-3.

Exam Jam is a collaboration between the Faculty of Arts and Science, the Arts and Science Students’ Union (ASSU), and many others to provide a fun and productive environment to get ready for finals.  Check out the Exam Jam website often as new instructors and classes are added to the list of review sessions.

Exam Jam December 2013-2

Exam Jam is not just about cramming for that final test, but about taking some time to have fun and de-stress before the exam period begins.

Exam Jam December 2013-3

And why not pet a cute dog?

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Yeah, that seems like a great idea.

For more information check out the Exam Jam website.

Exam Jam 2013 will help you get through finals

Exam Jam 2013 coming up fast!

Come out to Sidney Smith Hall on December 5th for Exam Jam. Exam Jam is put on by the Faculty of Arts and Science in collaboration with ASSU and other groups on campus to make the final exam period a little more bearable. There is lots to do: exam review sessions, food, pet therapy, and games to get you moving.

Every year, hundreds of students come out to Sid Smith hall to get in the Exam Jam mood. Don’t miss out of this amazing event. Full details can be found here:

(Check back often, as new exam sessions will be added closer to December 5th)

Would you want to miss this?

Massages were the perfect antidote to hours spent at Robarts.

Massages were the perfect antidote to hours spent at Robarts.

Giant Jenga was a huge hit.

Giant Jenga was a huge hit.

Ginger and Henry were as cute as ever.

Ginger and Henry were as cute as ever.




More Balloons!

More Balloons!


ASSU Writing Seminars – Cite Right and Writing Well Under Pressure

Cite Right: Learn the ins and outs of effective and ethical uses of sources

When? Wed. March 27, 2-4 pm

Writing Well Under Pressure: Learn how to use your time effectively and efficiently to write better assignments and get better marks.

When?  Thurs. March 28, 10 am – 12 pm

If you are interested in signing up for a workshop, please email with the date you wish to attend.

ASSU Executive Elections

ASSU Council will be meeting to elect their new Executive Council for the 2013-2014 year on Wednesday March 13th. The meeting will take place in Sidney Smith Hall, Room 2135 beginning at 5:00 pm.

The ASSU Executive is responsible for implementing policy initiated by Council, as well as working with Course Unions, the administration, and other campus groups to improve the academic life of students in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

The Executive is made of up of seven members: one President, and six Executive members. Four of these Executive members are elected at this meetings, and two will be elected at the first ASSU council meeting in the next fall term.

Each Course Union will get two votes, one for their President or delegate, and one for their second council member. Current ASSU Executive members can also vote for candidates.

Here are the official statements from the candidates running for Executive:


Christopher Balette

My name is Christopher Balette.  I am a third year student in the economics specialist and mathematics minor program.  It would be an honour to be considered as your Arts and Science Students’ Union President.

As a course union executive, member of the ASSU Council, and member of the ASSU budget review committee, I have gained valuable experience and insights regarding academic issues faced by the student body.

If elected president I intend to address academic issues that matter to students.  First, I will push to improve upon the Credit/No Credit system by advocating for a penalty-free course retake policy.  Secondly, I will lobby to eliminate textbook purchases for courses where only small fractions of textbooks are used.

Furthermore, I will work to improve upon the great services ASSU offers to course unions and students.  I will streamline the course union budget process by posting budget guidelines on the ASSU website, clarifying budget category constraints, and creating a FAQ section.  In addition, I will also integrate the ASSU website with other social media to maximize communications reach regarding ASSU services, course union announcements and union transparency.

Finally, I intend to increase communications between ASSU council, Arts and Science Governing Council, and other university organizations.  I will bring issues addressed by ASSU Council and students to these organizations, and report back regularly to ASSU members through electronic means and council meetings.

On March 13th, I encourage you to consider me for ASSU President.  Thank you for your consideration.  Cheers.

Shawn Tian

Reflecting on the past 2 years serving as an Executive member on ASSU has helped me appreciate the unique role that ASSU and course unions serve. Working on the Budget Review Committee has shown me the creativity of Course Union’s initiative in engaging students. Deliberating with the Scholarship Review Committee has shown me the outstanding merit of undergraduate students.

Looking forward I hope to establish a presence on Faculty Council. I am adamant about maintaining the constructive nature of discussion with the Deans’ office and offering students a relatable perspective in being informed. ASSU’s mandate remains to focus on the academic concerns facing undergraduate students in the faculty and I want to stay true to our roots.

Flat fee schedule or not, Anti-calendar printed or online, Meric Gertler president or dean, my intent to do ASSU’s best to serve students will persist. Experience with ASSU gave me the insight to understand what makes us unique and what scope of influence we have in advocacy. Genuine concern gave me the perspective to see what truly troubles students the most. Your support will give me the means to make this happen, one small step at a time, one constructive discourse at a time and one successful course union event at a time.

Stay positive, stay true, stay ASSU.



Dylan Chauvin-Smith

My name is Dylan Chauvin-Smith and I am a third year student in English and Cinema Studies.  I am interested in running for ASSU so that I can expand my volunteer work for students. The academic focus of ASSU will be a fresh experience for me.  My commitment to students began when I joined the executive of LGBTOUT last year and continued when I worked for the UTSU as associate Vice President Campus Life responsible for events.  As an avid and ever-curious student, I relish the opportunity to work on academic issues.  Please consider me for the executive of the Arts and Science Student Union.


Leena Halees

Hello.  My name is Leena Halees and I am running for the Arts and Science Student Union executive member.  I am a first year student studying Peace & Conflict studies.  I have had largely active and essential roles working with a diverse number of student leadership societies and community involvement organizations ranging from the athletics, the arts, and the academics.  My passion is to volunteer and help others in hopes to make a positive difference.  My goal is to contribute and express my ideas on behalf of the majority of students here at the University of Toronto making sure any concerns or issues are voiced and taken care of to the best of my ability.  With your support, I will do whatever it takes to make it happen and I assure you I am exactly what this community needs to ensure success and prosperity.  Thank you for your consideration.


Mohammed Ali Saeed

As your executive for ASSU in the coming academic year, I will be able to continue my work in a better way on projects I have already been working on.  I was working as an associate with VP University Affairs at UTSU and have strong background on advocacy related work, part of ASSU’s job on campus.

I was working on a research paper extensively which will be submitted to the university administration soon regarding ‘drop credit’.

I have worked on credit/no credit option for courses earlier and plan on continuing my lobbying and advocacy with the university administration.  So if you’re looking for a candidate with strong past experiences of working, negotiating and lobbying with university administration, please vote for me and I can assure you will not disappointed with me serving you in ASSU as your executive next term.


Abdullah Shihipar

Hey everybody!  My name is Abdullah Shihipar and I’m running to be reelected to the position of executive for next year at ASSU.  This year, working with the rest of the executive and course unions, we were able to achieve a lot.  This year, working with you, I was able to run a successful inter course union food drive and made sure your events were promoted on our new facebook page

We also together created a course union facebook page to facilitate dialogue between the course unions.  I was also close to signing Justin Timeberlake but alas, the deal fell apart at the last minute.  The communist newspaper people scared him away.  Next year, I plan to continue the good relationship we have with course unions, by continuing to promote your events, host more socials to facilitate course union cooperation and include you in our broader campaigns.

In our quest for a better quality education, we face a lot of roadblocks; flat fees, large class sizes and things like Access Copyright stand in our way.  Working together, we can make ASSU stronger and overcome those obstacles to achieve the standard of education we deserve.

Exam Jam

With final exams just around the corner the Arts and Science Students’ Union is once again pleased to be partnering with the Faculty of Arts and Science to bring you Exam Jam! This year, Exam Jam will take place on April 8th. All events will be in Sidney Smith Hall.


Exam Jam is a one-day event that features review sessions, open study space, and de-stressing stations. Exam Jam is free and open to all students.
Come out and enjoy some snacks,

exam jam.2

or get that stress taken away with a massage,

exam jam.3

or get a little silly,

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or just hang with some cute dogs.

exam jam.5

More information can be found on the Faculty of Arts and Science website. Remember to check back often, as the scheduled of events will be updated closer to April 8th.