Executive Nominations are now open!

The ASSU Executive represents the academic concerns for over 24,000 full-time Arts & Science students on the St. George campus.  Their responsibilities include, but are not limited to – holding weekly office hours, attending Executive meetings every few weeks, reporting at ASSU Council Meetings, sitting on various ASSU committees, representing ASSU at Faculty meetings, working with and helping Course Unions, working on ASSU projects and any other academic concerns affecting A&S students that might come up during the year.

If you have the time commitment and the passion, why not consider running for the ASSU Executive!  Any Full-time, Arts & Science Student registered on the St. George campus, or ASSU-fee paying student can run for a position.

Nomination forms available at the ASSU Office for:

– two (2) Executive Members

Nominations Open:

Thursday, September 7th – 10 a.m.

 Nominations Close:

Thursday, September 21st5 p.m.

Elections:

Friday, September 29th4 p.m.

2016-2017 ASSU Award Winners

The Arts and Science Students’ Union is extremely pleased to announce the winners of our 2016-2017 leadership awards.

This year we received a multitude of applications from a diverse and highly qualified group of students. The ASSU Scholarship committee, which is made up of representatives from our Executive, ASSU Council, and the Faculty of Arts and Science administration, debated for a long time before coming to their decisions.

The Scholarship committee passes on it’s thanks to all the applicants for making these decisions so difficult.

Our 2016-2017 Award winners are:

William R. Gardner Student Leadership Award:

Winner – Vhil Castillejos

Runner-Up – Ji Yoon Lim

Runner Up – Daryna Kutsyna

Gavin Nowlan Campus Student Leadership Award

Winner – Alana Changoor

Runner-Up – Willem Crispin-Frei

Runner-Up – Amanda Cheung

Abdullah Shihipar Campus Student Leadership Award

Winner – Marianne Alice Kalaczynski

Runner-Up – Novera Khan

Runner-Up – Nicole Gumapac

First Year Campus Involvement Award

Hsiao-Wen Sun

Basit Ali

Sydney Vennin

 

Statement on the terrorist attack in Quebec City

We, the Executive of the Arts and Science Students’ Union, are deeply saddened and angry at the news of the terrorist attack on a mosque in Quebec City last night.  Just as evening prayers were commencing, the congregants were attacked because of their religion. An attack on a place of worship, targeting a specific minority community, is an attack on the very foundation of our national ethos.  Now is the time to mourn those who were killed, but also to redouble our determination that the hatred and fear at the heart of this attack do not spread throughout our communities.

Though it is too early to determine the specific motivating factors for this attack, we must be cognizant of the atmosphere we find ourselves in.  We have seen a marked increase in anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and transphobic language here on our campus, and also in our communities.  The same hate mongering that we have witnessed during the recent American elections is being mirrored in our own country’s politics. We cannot allow these sentiments to go unchallenged, and we cannot retreat into the fantasy that words have no power. Words matter.  Hatred is not “Free Speech”, and to believe otherwise is to wilfully blind ourselves to what occurred in the prayer hall in Quebec City.

Early reports have identified the attacker as a fellow university student, and this morning there is a campus coming to terms with the reality that one of their students is capable of this monstrosity.  We, as University of Toronto students must also come to terms with the reality that there is nothing different about our campus, nothing different about our communities, that protects us from this hatred.  In order to fight against Islamophobia, antisemitism, and transphobia, we need to visibly demonstrate that Muslims, Jews, and Transpeople are welcome and integral members of our school, and communities. We need to demonstrate that when they are attacked our entire community is attacked.

As always, the Arts and Science Students’ Union is open for any student to grieve in any way they feel comfortable. We continue to endeavour to make our campus a safe and welcoming environment for everyone, and to work for the equity that our nation purports to strive for.

If you are capable, please consider attending one of the vigils on or near our campus:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1670402936319800/

https://www.facebook.com/events/373086053050464/

In solidarity and strength,

The Executive of the Arts and Science Students’ Union

ASSU Award Deadline Approaches

The deadline for our ASSU Awards is fast approaching. For three of our most competitive awards, the Nowlan, Gardner, and Shihipar Awards, the deadline is January 20th, 2017. More information and the application can be found at http://assu.ca/services-resources/assu-awards/

Statement on the results of our levy referendum

The results have been counted and unfortunately our levy referendum failed to pass. We are understandably upset, but acknowledge that the majority of students were unwilling to support us at this time. We would like to thank all those students who voted— but especially those who voted yes.  Even with the results the way they are, the ASSU Executive is dedicated to continuing to work for our students in every capacity we can, including continuing to provide support and funding to our course unions. We are also dedicated to continuing to make our membership’s education more affordable, through our awards, bursaries, and undergraduate travel grants. We hoped to be able to expand these awards and services in the future, but for now we’ll endeavour to find creative ways to alleviate the financial and academic stress which is the daily toll of U of T students.

This levy marked the first time that the Arts and Science Students’ Union used the University of Toronto’s on-line voting system, and we were hoping for an increase in participation. The final votes cast are disappointing in light of the size of our membership, and show only a small increase compared to our last paper ballot in 2010. Regardless of whether students supported the levy or not, we were hoping to see more engaging numbers.

This levy offered a chance for our Course Unions to engage our membership on the critical issues that face Arts and Science Students, but most of the discussion we witnessed centred on events that have been in the news lately about one instructor on our campus. It is with rueful irony that the Executive witnessed our union –and levy referendum, come under attack for their choice to speak out on that issue.

We would like to thank the Chief Returning Officer, Jesse Berlin, and Deputy Returning Officer, Emma Hansen for their work –especially operating an in-person poll over the course of two days. If anyone has questions or concerns regarding the vote in any way, please contact our CRO at cro@assu.ca.

The results will be formally submitted to our regular ASSU Council Meeting on November 15th for approval.

In solidarity,

 

The Executive of the Arts and Science Students’ Union

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.

 

Sincerely,

 

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.

ASSU Fall Elections- Call for Nominations

Nominations are now open for the ASSU Fall Executive Elections

Nominations are now open for the two (2) vacant Executive Member positions.   Any Full-time, Arts & Science Student registered on the St. George campus, or ASSU-fee paying student can run for a position.

The ASSU Executive represents the academic concerns for over 23,000 full-time Arts & Science students on the St. George campus.  Their responsibilities include, but are not limited to – holding weekly office hours, attending Executive meetings every few weeks, reporting at ASSU Council Meetings, sitting on various ASSU committees, representing ASSU at Faculty meetings, working with and helping Course Unions, working on ASSU projects and any other academic concerns affecting A&S students that might come up during the year.

If you have the time commitment and the passion, why not consider running for the ASSU Executive!  Nomination forms are available in the ASSU Office. Nominations close on Friday, September 23rd at 5 pm and elections will take place on Monday, October 3rd at 5:30 pm.

Fall-Winter Locker Rentals

Beginning on Monday, September 12th, we will be renting lockers in Sid Smith for the Fall-Winter term. These lockers are a convenient way to keep your stuff on campus without the need to lug it around. Sid Smith is open 7-days-a-week during the academic year. Check out the prices below.

Statement in Response to the Attack on Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida

Content warning: violence, death, homophobia, and transphobia

Early Sunday morning, June 12th 2016, a gunman murdered 49 people and injured scores of others at Pulse Nightclub, a gay nightclub in Orlando Florida. This attack was the single deadliest occurrence of violence against LGBTQ people in the history of the United States, the largest shooting, the largest mass shooting committed by a single gunman in United States history, and the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States since September 11th 2001.

The attack occurred during an event that was dedicated to the Latin community, meaning that the victims were predominantly queer people of colour. The targeting of queer people of colour is sadly nothing new. Roughly 80% of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes are committed against people of colour; 60% of all LGBTQ homicide victims are Black, 55% of all LGBTQ homicide victims are trans women, and of those victims, 50% are trans women of colour.

Then, almost before given the time to contemplate the horrific toll of the Orlando attack, our own campus was put under threat by reports of an armed individual on Monday morning. Thankfully, that report turned out to be a false alarm, and after diligent work by both Campus and Metro Toronto Police to ensure it was safe our community was reopened.

Although we evaded a potential tragedy, we cannot forget that these incidents are anything but isolated. The hegemonic ideology that breeds this kind of violence is one that undeniably permeates into our culture. The mechanisms of patriarchal power not only affects women and trans folks, but is also what leads men that are insecure about their lack of (“deserved”) control to manifest their feelings into destruction.

We must continue to work together to build and sustain a community that not only accepts diversity, but celebrates the inherent beauty in different subjectivities. Marginalized folks should be able to celebrate their identities without fear of their lives being stripped away.

Finally, whether the Orlando shooting was premeditated by homophobia, mental illness, religious extremism, protest—or all of the above– what allowed the perpetrator to kill so many individuals at once was his gun.

No individual, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, should have access to that kind of destructive power. Not on campus, not at a club, not in a workplace, not anywhere.

We, the Arts and Science Students’ Union, will always stand in solidarity with queer people of colour and those affected by gun violence,  and we send our love and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the victims that lost their lives in this senseless act of terror.

 

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

Amanda Alvear, 25 years old

Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old

Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

Cory James Connell, 21 years old

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old

Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old

Frank Hernandez, 27 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old

Kimberly Morris, 37 years old

Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old

Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old

Rest in Power.