ASSU EXECUTIVE BY-ELECTION STATEMENTS

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.

 

Elections

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

K1A1L1

 

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.

Sincerely,

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

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

Latest 3902 Strike Statement.

Statement from ASSU Executive:

It has been a long week. Our first and foremost concern as an undergraduate students’ union is undergraduate education. We did not want a strike but at the same time, the ASSU executive supports the members of CUPE 3902. We have released prior statements affirming this commitment; we believe that the deal the university offered did not come close to addressing the grievances of the union members.  We stand by this statement, however today’s statement does not pertain to the details of the bargaining process.

We want to see an end to this strike as soon as possible but we are extremely concerned by what we are seeing being done on the part of the university. For one thing, the university has refused to come back to the bargaining table despite the union’s repeated requests to meet immediately. In the words of the university, they are waiting for a provincial meditator to bring both sides back to the table. They can go back to the table now if they want to.

We have also heard some concerning things from our students. First and foremost, we have received multiple reports of professors changing things on their syllabi without a vote. This is against the rules of the Faculty of Arts and Science, which states that in order for changes to occur to a syllabi (for example: changing the grade distribution or changing when things are due), these changes must be approved by a majority of the class. These votes can be taken in person or via secret ballot.  There must be a NO option, i.e: an option to keep the syllabus as is.  Providing two alternatives does not suffice.

Even if students get to vote – we ask students to exercise caution. Consider whether this is really in your best interest.  Keep in mind that by voting for syllabi changes that may dramatically shift the distribution, you may be taking away from the work that a TA would do. Thus, strike breaking and prolonging the strike.  Changing the syllabi to accommodate a strike and mark things more heavily may not be in your best interest. Of course, we ask members to use their best judgment and do what they feel is best for them.

The second issue, consists of undergraduates being sought out by departments to conduct TA labour.  Students have reported being e-mailed by departments to take up a job, conducting an interview and then finding out afterwards about the nature of the work. We ask our students to be incredibly careful of this. The departments involved in doing this do not have your best interest in mind. As soon as the strike ends, you will be let go and the duration of your work will suggest you were a strikebreaker. This isn’t exactly the best thing to have on you resume. Tricking well-meaning undergrads into accepting scab labour positions without telling them this, is deceiving and unacceptable. We unequivocally condemn this practice.

Once again, tactics like changing the syllabi (with or without consent) and pursuing scab labour merely prolong the strike and take away from your education – constrained evaluations aren’t exactly the definition of a fulfilling experience.  Domestic and international students pay over 7,000 and 30,000 respectively in tuition.  Do you really want to get less because the university does not want to allocate the money you pay to salaries of those who teach you?

We will keep you updated as always.

2015 ASSU Award Winners

Congratulations to these amazing students!

ASSU is pleased to announce the winners of our leadership awards. The winner of the William R. Gardner Leadership Award is Kaleem Hawa. The two runner up awards went to Winnie Lieu, and Amitpal Singh.

The winner of the Gavin Nowlan Leadership Award was Charles Dalrymple-Fraser, with Maya Deeb and Emily Tsui both receiving runner up awards.

The awards will be presented at a special ceremony hosted by The Arts and Science Students’ Union, and Dean Cameron of the Faculty of Arts and Science later this month.

Thank you to everyone who submitted applications, this year was an incredibly competitive group of students.

ASSU closed for reading week

The ASSU office will be closed during reading week, February 16th to 20th. We will reopen on Monday, February 23rd at 10am. Have a safe, fun, and rewarding reading week everyone!

Letter to Members – Re: CUPE 3902 Strike Action

Dear Members,

This morning, ASSU council adopted a motion put forward by the executive in regards to the current labour dispute between CUPE 3902 and the University of Toronto.  As such, the union is now calling on the university to provide a greater number of negotiating dates so that the two sides can produce a contract that fairly compensates teaching assistants, sessional instructors and other members of CUPE 3902.  We believe that this is the best way to avoid a strike.  As an undergraduate academic union, we believe that a strike is not in our members’ best interests.  That said, teaching assistants and sessional instructors have valid grievances that need to be addressed.

When sessional instructors and teaching assistants are provided with good working conditions, it in turn positively affects our educational experience.  Currently, the union has been working without a contract since April 2014.  The university only first agreed to meet this past July. After months of stalled negotiations, CUPE 3902 requested a mediator from the province in December.  Since the meditator has been brought in, the union has met once with the university in January and plans to meet with them on Feb 20th and 25th.  A strike deadline has been set for Feb 26th if no agreement has been reached.   The union has called upon the university to meet more often, and we are echoing this call.   Our semester is at stake and we believe it is integral that the university show good faith and negotiate to bring this labour dispute to an end – not only to avoid a strike but also to produce better working conditions for our TAs and sessional instructors.

Unfortunately, while the union has been proactive in communicating with students, we have heard little from the university itself.  We extended an invitation to the university to send a representative to our most recent council meeting, which they declined.  We encourage our students to get in contact with the university (see e-mail below) to find out more about the current labour dispute and to ask Simcoe Hall to engage with CUPE 3092.

As always, ASSU will keep you updated on any developments that occur.

Yours in solidarity,

The ASSU Executive

 

You can e-mail:  

Angela Hildyard

Vice President, HR and Equity

University of Toronto

angela.hildyard@utoronto.ca

 

 

 

#globalvoices report

gvreportsliderIn November, ASSU launched its #globalvoices campaign – a campaign aimed at bringing awareness to the problems and issues international students face. As part of this campaign, ASSU launched a survey of international students to pinpoint these issues and formulate solutions. After two months, we are now ready to present this report. Click here to read it.

 

The Ali Saeed Memorial Award

This year, ASSU will be introducing a new award for International Students. This award was established in memory of Ali Saeed (1992-2014) -an international student from Pakistan studying Political Science, who was a dedicated collaborator in the work ASSU did over the 2013-2014 academic year. He was a passionate photographer, student activist, and was highly respected by his peers and all who knew him.

Eligibility

  • International Student
  • Full-time Undergraduate in Arts and Science Registered on the St. George Campus
  • Campus Leadership and Extra-Curricular Involvement
  • In Second Year or Higher
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0

Application forms can be found here.

Deadline is Friday February 27th 2015 at 5:00pm