Leadership from both the Health Studies Students' Union (HSSU) and the Equity Studies Students' Union (ESSU) held an "Emergency" Town Hall meeting in the Hart House East Common Room on Tuesday, November 17. Members from various Arts and Science course unions and student associations were in attendance to discuss strategies to put pressure on academic planners who are preparing a report for the Dean.

The report, due to be submitted on December 15, is heavily influenced by the 2008 External Review of the Faculty of Arts and Science. Within this review is a controversial sentence that has interdisciplinary programs such as Health Studies, Equity Studies, and others worried about their futures: “At a time of seemingly diminishing resources, the proliferation of such [interdisciplinary] units and their accompanying costs in course releases, administrative staff, and demands on units for courses to go along with the new enterprises, seems profligate.”

"Profligate, of course, means utterly and shamelessly immoral," says VP of ESSU, Anthony Foster. "In looking at this, it is made abundantly clear that the field of Equity Studies, among others, is something that the University neither values, nor reconciles with its vision for the future."

"For fuck's sake, we should be angry," said Faraz Shahidi of the HSSU as he addressed the Town Hall. "Nothing about the way this University is run is rational. We should allow ourselves to feel angry."

Director of Health Studies, Prof. Paul Hamel, who was also present at the Town Hall, admitted that he still does not fully understand the budgetary process at U of T. Along with getting more students involved in student politics and extracurricular activities in general, Hamel would like to see more students heard in academic planning. Hamel asks, "Why not have them involved in the academic review process? Their views are as valid as anyone else's. Their perspectives are valuable."

Strategies discussed included increasing awareness amongst the student population about the academic planning process, producing journals of testimonials from students in interdisciplinary studies, and increasing student involvement in the whole review process among other things. As well as putting pressure on academic planners, the organizers of the Town Hall also took aim at the Arts and Science Students' Union (ASSU), who was notably absent from the meeting.

"They have had the same executive for a year and a half and there have been no campaigns, no actions, even on non-contentious issues. Nothing," says Shahidi.

"The last time I checked, ASSU is charged with representing the interests of Arts and Science Students," says Foster. "I am unsure how they can then justify remaining silent on these issues. This lack of leadership and action during a time when the student body is in dire need of both is reprehensible."

One of the action items decided upon at the Town Hall was to have a "mini convergence" at ASSU's monthly meetings to pressure them to act in opposition to the "cuts the University is planning to impose on the faculty."

Additional Info

  • Subtitle: ASSU absent, takes heat
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