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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.

ASSU’s new 2016-2017 Executive

2016-2017 ASSU Exec

 

Congratulations to the incoming 2016-2017 ASSU Executive!

At our council meeting on March 23rd, Course Union representatives elected the first of their 2016-2017 ASSU Executives. Two more Executives will be elected at the first council meeting of the Fall 2016 term.

The President-Elect of ASSU is Ondiek Oduor, who ran unopposed. Ondiek was first elected to ASSU at the Spring 2015 council elections.

Both Crystal Gao and Lisa Chen return to the Executive, after having been elected twice and three times before respectively.

Joining the ASSU Executive for the first time are Priyanka Sharma and Amani Bosibori Moragia. They join an already dedicated team who are looking forward to continuing the work of the Union over the summer and into the next academic year. 

2015-2016 First Year Award Winners

ASSU is pleased to announce the winners of our awards for First-year students. These are just a few of the exceptional students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. These awards will be presented at the ASSU Spring Award ceremony, co-hosted with the Dean of Arts and Science, David Cameron.

First Year Award Winners

 

Angela (Min Yi) Hou

Jinwen (Molly) Cong

Marian Mendoza

 

2016 ASSU Candidate Statements

Here are the statements from the candidates for the upcoming ASSU Executive elections
Candidate for President

Ondiek Oduor

Hey Friends®,

I’m a fourth year student studying Social-Cultural Anthropology, Book & Media Studies, and Women & Gender Studies – and I am running to be your President.

Having the privilege of serving ASSU this year has taught me the importance of maintaining a unified sense of community. It has also opened my eyes to the structural barriers that impede our success. While we do have some of the most intelligent individuals in the world—both studying and teaching here—we must acknowledge that more work has to be done before we can have a reciprocal relationship with the University.

This year, we actively strived to increase student involvement within our exceptionally diverse community. In my term, I organized and advertised (re: Facebook lol) all three coffeehouses – including Ariana’s Grande which I considered iconic. Furthermore, I organized equity training for the executive members, participated in the Fall Reading Week Referendum, and re-launched the Arbor Journal as Co-Editor in Chief. I also brought my favourite podcast—The Read—to the University for totally unselfish reasons.

I believe that I have the necessary experience to continue our progress. I’ve held several roles including, but not limited to: being the Head of Non-Resident Affairs at Trinity College, interning for the Office of Student Life’s social media networks, co-founding Intersections: the Clapback journal, and being a regular contributor to the Salterrae and Gargoyle.

It would be a privilege to take on the presidential role, and I can’t wait to see what the new year brings!

Candidates for Executive

Tian Yi Bao – no statement

Nathan Chan

Hello!

My name is Nathan Chan and I hope to become an executive member of ASSU. I am currently in the third year of the Physiology Specialist and Pharmacology Major Programs.

Previous commitments have lent extensive experience that is applicable to ASSU. Having been both the Executive Administrator and Second-Year Representative of the Undergraduate Physiology Student Association, I have two-years’ experience collaborating with course unions and developing academic and social programming for students. Within Trinity College, I have served two years as Vice-President, Academic of LGBTQ+ support group “Rainbow Trinity”, two years as Co-Captain of student safety group “Sober Patrol”, and two years as a Member-at-Large of anti-sexual harassment advocacy group “Trinity Against Sexual Assault and Harassment”. I further have founded “People of Colour at Trinity College”, a social support group for racialised students.

Through my experience, I have interacted with hundreds of students from various identities. As an executive member of ASSU, I hope to improve student experience in three ways:

1) encouraging greater inter-course union collaboration to provide greater opportunity for student engagement

2) educating course unions to ensure campus-wide social and mental health resources are used and accessible

3) engaging in campus-wide student outreach to address issues of social and financial inequity

Above all, I recognize the diversity of our studies and the diversity of our lived experiences. By focusing on the aforementioned goals, I hope to improve the student experience for all students.

I hope you will strongly consider my candidacy for executive membership of ASSU.

 

Jia Chen

Hello,

My name is Lisa Chen and I am finishing my third year at U of T, as well as my third year as an executive on ASSU. If elected for a fourth year, I will work to bring more structure to the Budget Review Committee and Course Union Special Funding Request forms, as well as continue to push for improvement in the Faculty’s annual Course Evaluation.

In the three years that I have served on ASSU, I have helped the union push for Faculty-wide change such as Syllabi Regulation and an International Students Survey in 2014, and a referendum for a Fall Reading Week in 2015. Both with my team and as an individual, I have hosted internationally-renown speakers such as Wab Kinew and Ta-Nehisi Coates, in addition to fun de-stresser events such as a Nightmare before Christmas themed coffee-house, a ‘90s Themed Dance Party and cupcake decorating.

This year in addition to being an executive, I held the position of treasurer and worked closely with the Budget Review Committee to approve the Special Funding Request forms of Course Unions. I found that the Committee did not have a concrete set of guidelines to work from, and we had difficulty reaching consensus on which parts of a request to grant, and whether or not to grant 100% of the request. In 2016, I hope to create a solid set of guidelines based on precedent and approve SPFs in a fair and objective manner.

 

 

Crystal Gao

When I joined ASSU in 2014, I aimed to make an impact on the academic experiences of students in our faculty. Little did I know how this space would change me. Each of you play an important role on your course unions and engage with student affairs beyond… I am certain you can relate. Somewhere along the work we have been doing, this big campus began to feel a lot smaller.

Over the past two years, I’ve had the privilege to work on initiatives to support our first year and international students, Mental Health week and course evaluations. This week, I am proud to be hosting our first Transition Week to help first year students find their crucial next steps for off-campus housing, academic planning and program enrolment. On Election Day, I will share a more in-depth overview of my past and ongoing projects as well as what I hope to achieve with ASSU Council next year.

To the course union leaders here today, I want to say, thank you for giving me your trust for the past two years. I hope you will give me another opportunity to work with you and continue on the projects that I’ve begun!

 

Amani Bosibori Moragia

Hey y’all,

My name is Bosi and I’m running to be your next ASSU student executive. I’m looking forward to bringing a dose of consistent black excellence to the Arts and Science Students Union, as well as a wealth of activities and initiatives that cater to the diverse student body. It’s lit.

 

Harrison Perry-Daiter

My name is Harrison Perry-Daiter and I am running for election to the Arts and Science Students’ Union Executive. I am a second year student majoring in European Studies, with minors in Russian and Jewish Studies.

I have been a firm advocate of student activism throughout my academic career. Pursuing broad education reform, I presented my speech “Sexism in the French Language” before a forum of Ontario secondary school French Language Department heads, for which I was awarded the Emblem of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.

I have prior experience in student governance, having served as Vice President-Academic of the Slavic Languages Student Union.   Acting upon our members’ right to efficient course evaluations, we are working with the Department to facilitate access to internal reviews, drawing from standardized year-end student feedback. Among my other student leadership initiatives, I served as Vice President of AFTER UofT. In this capacity, I co-organized a Professional Development Conference, a full day event that featured thirty guest speakers, and accommodated over three hundred students.

While building upon ASSU’s successes, my targets for 2016-2017 include efficient course evaluations, by offering accessible sessional feedback on professors, course instructors and teaching assistants. I would apply ASSU’s broad student outreach to promote engagement in Course Union events of all sizes.

 

Natalie Petra

I’m Natalie Petra and I’m running for re-election for the ASSU Executive. I am majoring in Ethics, Society and Law and Peace, Conflict and Justice, and minoring in Equity Studies. I am also a course union executive with the PCJ Society. I have served as an elected member of the Faculty’s Committee on Standing, on the UCLit’s Finance Committee, and as an orientation executive. Outside of school, I am a library board trustee, and serve as the Director of Communications for the New Democratic Youth of Canada.

Working with ASSU and the Faculty, I have learned and grown immensely. I had the pleasure of seeing the work of course unions and hearing student needs. Last year, I implemented an email system for ASSU, and ensured budgets, policies and minutes were accessible online. I was proud to work on the Fall Reading Week Referendum, and to advocate for an improved Course Evaluation system, better support systems for first years and international students, and mental wellness resources. I want to build on this by:

1) Implementing a feedback system for course unions, and providing resources to facilitate joint events.

2) Lobbying for nap spaces, improved mental wellness services, equity training and ending exam deferral fees.

3) Creating an open committee for students to get involved with the ASSU Executive’s work, and promoting ASSU’s services more widely.

4) Working to create a bursary for students in crisis.

Thanks for a great year – I sincerely hope to be able to serve again!

 

Priyanka Sharma

Hi there! I’m Priyanka Sharma (call me Pri!), studying Criminology and Psychology with a minor in English. As my second year comes to a close, I find myself at a place where I have gained enough experience to enhance my initiatives to the greater UofT community, and now am just awaiting the opportunity to do so – ASSU Executive is that perfect opportunity.

In the past two years I have been involved in my college and the university in almost every capacity. At Trinity College, my involvement ranges from being an executive member for organizing Frosh Week, Saints Charity Ball and Conversat Ball, to sitting on the executive panels for the Equity Committee, the Trinity Against Sexual Assault Initiative, Dramatic Society and more. As part of the larger campus community, I have had the pleasure to play on the St. George Tri-Campus Volleyball team, photograph for The Varsity, and represent the Pre-Law Society at competitions.

Through my interactions with the wide range of students at UofT, I have seen the possibility of creating a positive space, and how ASSU can expend it campus-wide to provide the healthiest and best academic and social experience to the largest faculty at UofT. I aim to focus on raising awareness of our student’s rights, varying from academic to other code of conduct policies (i.e. campus sexual assault). Through information empowerment and community events, I hope to foster an equitable space focusing on positive mental health, where every student can be engaged and supported.