keep calm and carry on

Because it's midterm season and we can all use a little bit of soul.  The following post contains my opinions and are not necessarily representative of the Arts and Science Students' Union Earlier this week, I had the opportunity via ASSU to meet with the Dean of Arts of Science, Meric Gertler as well as other representatives from the Faculty. Despite the serious nature of the issues being discussed, the atmosphere was friendly, cordial and respectful.  It was a good meeting and I was glad that I was a part of it. Without reneging on its commitment to represent students, ASSU maintains a respectful and good relationship with the Faculty of Arts and Science. This isn't just the case with ASSU though, it's case with multiple student unions/governments and the dialogue that they have with the respective faculties. Too often, students have two misperceptions about student-admin dialogue. One is that students are disrespectful to the administration.  This, for the most part, is not true. Student unions (including the UTSU) and governments frequently meet with the administration to discuss various issues that are concerning. While there are disagreements between the two respective sides, the dialogue for the most part has been cordial. Showing respect, however, does not mean that students cannot criticize policies that they disagree with -- so long as the critiques are based in fact and are respectful in nature. The other is that administration doesn't care to hear students. Once again, I find this to be false. While there are policies that the administration pursues sometimes that some students disagree with, representatives of the faculties and the administration have always shown a willingness to meet with students to facilitate consultation and feedback. Respect, however, does not just fall into the realm of discussions between the administration and students. Respect is something that we, as students have to bring into all the collaborative work we do at the university. Whether this be working on a group project, sitting on a committee, or working with your club executives to plan an event, all discussions must be rooted in respect. You may not see eye-to-eye all the time, but disagreeing should not have to turn into being disagreeable. And truthfully, this is what happens at U of T - 99 per cent of the time. Students having conversations, planning events, working on policy, all working within a framework of inclusiveness and cooperation. I'd like to end it there, but in my experience writing for The Varsity, I have unfortunately witnessed discussions about how to move the university forward turn ugly. I'd like to remind all students who choose to engage in discussions around student politics to keep it respectful. Charged language, hurling vicious adjectives and personal attacks may be acceptable in the realm of federal politics but at U of T, we are first and foremost students, not politicians. Such discussions do not promote inclusiveness, rather they promote divisiveness.  You may disagree with a viewpoint a fellow student holds, but that is no reason to resort to mudslinging.  I encourage all students, from here on out to conduct such discussions and debates in a respectful manner. We all must keep calm and carry on. Good luck with midterms U of  T - hold on, only a few more weeks till the holidays. 🙂 - Abdullah

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