An open letter to Toronto City Council about Back Campus

ASSU has asked Toronto City Council to preserve Back Campus

In the lead-up to the vote on disignating Back Campus a heritage landscape, ASSU has sent a letter to Toronto City Council asking for their support. A version of the letter is here.

To the members of Toronto City Council:

We, the executive of the Arts and Science Students’ Union are writing to you today in regards to a proposal to designate the Back Campus field of the University of Toronto a heritage landscape. The Arts and Science Students’ Union (ASSU) represents more than 23,000 full-time, undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science at U of T.  ASSU urges City Council to approve this proposal.

Currently, the Back Campus field is made up of natural grass turf and has been for over one hundred years. The field is used by students, staff, and faculty for a variety of recreational activities; from having a picnic, to walking one’s dog, to engaging in various competitive sports.  That being said, due to heavy use throughout the year, the field is sometimes in poor shape which can lead to injuries to student athletes, a concern ASSU recognizes and takes seriously.

In preparation for the Pan Am games to be held in 2015, the University plans to spend 9.5 million dollars to remove the natural grass and replace it with artificial turf.  The University argues that changing the field to turf will make it more accessible for students and community members, and that students will be less prone to injure themselves on an artificial surface. These arguments, while compelling, have only been offered after a coalition of students, faculty, and community members made substantive criticisms of the project.  Students fear that once the field is turfed, it will become like the Varsity Centre – U of T’s primary outdoor facility used for athletics; where public access is restricted and only available for the playing of certain Varsity sports.

Students have reason to be suspicious. The whole process under which the University has undergone to turf the back campus field has lacked accountability and transparency. In 2011, the administration commissioned a project planning group which would report to Governing Council on how to convert the back campus field to turfed pitches for field hockey.  This report was never released to the public, but was discussed and passed in Governing Council a year later.  All the discussions that occurred in Governing Council in regards to the report were done in camera.  Not only have students not been significantly consulted, the university has opted to withhold relevant information pertaining to the project.   The administration assures students that the field will be open to all, and that this move to turf back campus is not being done in haste for the Pan Am Games.  If this is the case, why do they choose not to release the relevant facts and details?

By making Back Campus a heritage landscape, the University would be pressured to reconsider its plans for turfing and since heritage sites must be properly preserved, undergo a more critical process on how to properly preserve the field that takes into account the views of students, athletes, faculty, and community members.  In light of this, we therefore hope that you will vote to make back campus a heritage landscape.


The Arts and Science Students’ Union Executive

ASSU Summer Hours

For the summer ASSU has shortened hours to reflect the Arts and Science summer timetable.

Our hours are:

Monday and Tuesday 10-5

Wednesday and Thursday 10-6

Friday 10-2

Exam Jam Spring Edition

Exam Jam was a huge hit!

Thank you everyone who came out to the spring edition of Exam Jam.  We once again had a great turnout to all of our study and de-stressing sessions.

Exam Jam will be back next Fall just in time for Winter Exams.

But first we need to get through this round.

Good Luck!

Summer Anti-Calendar

If you are getting ready to choose your courses for the Summer session, don’t forget to first look at the ASSU Summer Anti-Calendar.

This is the last year that ASSU will be publishing an Anti-Calendar. From now on, the Faculty of Arts and Science course evaluations will be on-line.

You can find it here: 2012 Summer Anti-Calendar

Course Evaluations

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Course Evaluations Help Students and Instructors

The link to the new Faculty of Arts and Science On-Line course evaluations should have been sent to all email addresses over the past few weeks. The last day to submit your evaluations is April 8th.

Course evaluations are incredibly important, as they allow students to get a better understanding of what to expect in a class, and allow instructors to judge how effectively they are teaching. ASSU and the Faculty of Arts and Science have been working closely for years to ensure that listening to  student feedback is an essential part of the Faculty’s policy. By filling out course evaluations, students are continuing this successful tradition.


ASSU Executive 2013-2014

Congratulations to the incoming 2013-2014 ASSU Executive

On Wednesday, ASSU council met and elected their Executive Committee for the 2013-2014 year.


Shawn Tian


Abdullah Shihipar
Dylan Chauvin-Smith
Leena Halees
Mohammed Ali Saeed

As per the ASSU constitution, two more Executive members will be elected in the Fall. Check back in the Fall for opportunities to get involved with ASSU.


ASSU Award Winners


WINNERS FOR 2012-2013:



Winner:                     Akanksha Ganguly

Runner up:               Sarah Hong

Runner up:               Tahsin Khan




Winner:                     Daisy Qin

Runner up:               Iona Sendroiu

Runner up:               Ching Chau




Angel Ji

Julianne Lee

Amy Nguyen


Thank you to everyone who submitted nomination forms. The selection committee was faced with an incredibly difficult task in choosing this years’ winners.

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,

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or get that stress taken away with a massage,

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or get a little silly,

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or just hang with some cute dogs.

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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.

ASSU and the GSU call for a #GreenWager on the Back Campus

The Arts and Science Students’ Union is joining the Graduate Students’ Union in the call for a referendum on whether or not to cover the Back Campus field in artificial turf.




An Open Letter to President David Naylor regarding Back Campus Field.

Dear President Naylor,

Recently, members of the University community came to Governing Council with a petition of over 3000 names requesting that the University reconsider its decision to convert Back Campus into two field hockey playing surfaces. They were backed by a decisive vote from the Graduate Student’s Unions’ 144 member Council.

However, in Governing Council you expressed the opinion that you could easily obtain more signatures for the project. That the petitioners were just a vocal minority. Furthermore, you then also asked two hand-picked students to speak on behalf of both undergraduate and graduate students rather than the students elected to represent those two communities that were also present. While we appreciate your lack of belief in the democratic structures of your University’s student governments, it seems like a poor alternative to hand pick two students to support your cause and call it a day.

As a result, we would challenge you to a simple wager:

Give each student the opportunity to vote for or against the proposed plan. With the question provide a link to a pro-plan website and a link to our anti-plan website. If students approve the plan then we will give it our full support. If they reject it, then you will help us kill it.

If this is truly about the students and what students want, then let the students decide. If the elected representatives aren’t legitimate, then lets ask them directly.


The Graduate Students’ Union Executive
The Arts and Science Student Union Executive