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Club Feature: Arts & Science Students’ Union

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Toronto chapter.

Name of Organization: Arts and Science Student Union (ASSU)

Year established: 1972

Faculty affiliation: Faculty of Arts and Science

Links to social media: 

ASSU Executive

Priyanka Sharma, Year 4, Faculty of Arts & Science/Trinity College, Criminology & English Double Major

Jina Aryaan, Year 4, Faculty of Arts & Science/University College, Sociology Major, French & Latin American Studies Double Minor

Haseeb Hassaan, Year 4, Faculty of Arts & Science/St.Michaels College, Political Science and Religion Major, Minor in Near Middle Eastern Civilization

Bosi Moragia, Year 4, Faculty of Arts & Science/Trinity College, African Studies Major, Equity and English Literature Double Minor

Nooria Alam, Year 4, Faculty of Arts & Science/St.Michaels College, Political Science Major with History & Geography


Tell me a bit about ASSU in a few sentences or less: 

Pri: ASSU represents over 24,000 students at U of T, all of whom are enrolled in programs ranging from Anthropology to Immunology and beyond. We help students navigate their university experience; whether that entails answering curriculum-related questions, providing solutions during academic crises, or making some sweet suggestions about the food trucks outside of Sid Smith. I always say that you should come to our office if you ever have any questions at all: Need to find past midterms for studying? Come to the ASSU office. Think your professor is being shady? Come to the ASSU office. Need to vent about Taylor Swift’s new song…or even listen to it in a judgement-free zone? That’s right, come to the ASSU office. 


What made you interested in being a part of this organization?  

Haseeb: ASSU has always done amazing work and I could see it right when I got to campus. Outside of the amazing services that we offer, I was appreciative for the activist work they did in the community. I think it is integral that marginalized students have an organization on campus that represents them. Whether it be protesting about racism on campus, helping working class students, or fighting for the academic rights of its constituency, ASSU is always ready to take a stance with you and support your movement. 


How does ASSU work as a student union within Arts and Science? What kind of services does ASSU provide to students?  

Pri: ASSU has a professional working relationship with the administrative body that is the Faculty of Arts & Science. We have regular meetings with Dean and Vice-Dean to discuss opportunities for partnership and issues of concern. These meetings are directly informed by the student feedback we receive, whether it’s about a professor employing a de-facto laptop ban in class (which, for the record, they are not supposed to do), or that students should be given the chance to vote on having a Fall Reading Week (which, because of ASSU’s discussions with the Dean, is finally a thing this year!). ASSU also sits on many committees with Faculty administration members to review scholarship and project funding requests, so that student perspectives are present when discussing matters that directly affect students. 

Aside from student advocacy at the administrative level, we are also here for students at level 1 of Sidney Smith, a.k.a., in our office (Room 1068) five times a week! We offer access to a past midterm test library, 50 cent pop, printing, photocopying, faxing (yes it still exists), Exam Jams, cool events/programming, travel grants, scholarships, bursaries, and a couch for you to nap on in between your classes. Just drop by and experience how “ASSU too, can be your oyster” – William Shakespeare.


Tell me a bit about the Undergraduate Research Conference. What was the idea about it and what can we expect to see from it?

Jina: The Undergraduate Research Conference is a new initiative this year that aims to recognize and showcase the scholarly research of existing Arts and Science undergraduate students at the University of Toronto. We realize that too often those papers that are worked on from several weeks to several months are only seen by students’ TAs and Professors; once they get marked, all that hard work gets disposed of as we work on the next set of research papers and class assignments. This conference is meant to provide a unique academic opportunity to recognize past research, while challenging students to engage in an interdisciplinary dialogue with their peers, Faculty members, and the general public as they discuss the non-instrumental purpose of their derived research findings. 

Additionally, we want to use this platform to unite students from all academic disciplines within the Arts and Science Department by connecting them through their mutual curiosity for research simply for the sake of empowering themselves with their acquired knowledge. By participating in this conference, student presenters will empower their peers by informing them of research findings that they would not otherwise be aware of, and this act of knowledge-sharing essentially serves to empower the presenters themselves as student researchers. Students are encouraged to check out the URC website and our URC Facebook page to learn more!


Tell me about Room 1068. What does the podcast focus on? 

Bosi: Room 1068 is a podcast that aims to feature the waviest people on campus. That’s to say, the longer I’ve been around, the more I’ve noticed that the best people on this campus move in silence like the last “T” in “Transcript”. Our podcast is mostly about giving these gems a platform and creating a cycle of intergenerational knowledge for the youth. Also, pretending to be a black, queer Ira Glass is pretty fun. 


What other campaigns or events is ASSU planning that students should be excited about? 

Jina: ASSU delivers when it comes to events! Our by-elections are coming up on September 29th, followed by our executive team’s Reddit AMA on September 28th (more information will be provided on our social media), which will help students learn more about each individual executive and their roles within ASSU. We also have ASSU Day on October 26th, and of course, you can expect our well-liked coffeehouses, open mic nights, and exam jams throughout the year. 


What advice would you give to students who are interested in being a part of a student organization like ASSU, but are concerned by their lack of experience?  

Jina: Don’t be scared by lack of experience, otherwise you’ll never get started! If you have the passion, dedication, and work ethic, you will have no problem joining organizations like ASSU. All it takes is your willingness to learn on your own and put an effort into building on your existing skills to better contribute to such organizations. You’ll learn as you go, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be!


Favourite meme?  

Haseeb: This pretty much sums it up. 



Architecture History and Design Double Major and Environmental Geography Minor at the University of Toronto
Jina Aryaan is one of the Co-Editors-in-Chief of Her Campus UToronto. She is a fourth year student pursuing a major in Sociology, and a double minor in French and Latin American Studies at the University of Toronto. She has been working with Her Campus since her first year of University, and she is also highly involved on campus through various other leadership positions. When she's not busy studying, you can catch her running around campus to get to her next class or meeting. When she has some spare time, she's likely busy writing, discussing politics, or spending quality time with friends and family.