Arts & Science students voted overwhelmingly in favour of introducing a fall reading week for some St.George students, with 6,112 votes in favour and 491 votes against. Voter turnout was 22 per cent — higher than that of the most recent University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) spring elections.
The referendum was a joint endeavor by the UTSU and the Arts & Science Students’ Union (ASSU) and happened concurrently with the UTSU by-election for a director from the Faculty of Engineering. Raffi Dergalstanian was elected with 133 votes to opponent Xuyu (Calix) Zhang’s 51.
“I’m over the moon” said Vere-Marie Khan, UTSU vice-president university affairs, in reaction to the referendum result. “I’m exceptionally happy with the high voter turn out, meaning that an overwhelming amount of students came out to show their support and have their voices heard.”
“I’m over the moon”
Abdullah Shihipar, ASSU president, echoed Khan’s delight. “We are very pleased at the results of the referendum but also at the turnout,” he said. “Clearly students are very passionate about this issue and have spoken their mind clearly — they want a fall reading week.”
According to Khan, the next steps are to draft a proposal to the Council of Deans, which will be presented in November. Both Khan and Shihipar said that the council will work with them to determine the next steps.
“We are working with all partners to ensure that the creation of a fall reading week has the least amount of disruption to all parties involved, including students and faculty,” Shihipar said in response to concerns about potential consequences of a fall reading week on class schedules, residence fees, and orientation week.
Shihipar said that fall reading week would likely involve moving orientation week up by two or three days, not by a week or into August. “As a result, classes would start a few days earlier,” he explained, adding that this is his speculation on the plan and that the Faculty of Arts & Science ultimately has the final say regarding the final plan.
While a fall reading week at UTSG would be in effect for only the Faculty of Arts & Science, Shihipar said in a previous interview with The Varsity that the plan is to introduce a fall reading week faculty-by-faculty.
At a recent UTSU Board of Directors meeting, Mathias Memmel, director for the Faculty of Music, announced that his division would also be holding a referendum on a fall reading week. The vote will take place between November 23 and 27, 2015.
“I’m absolutely humbled by this experience and can only hope that with all of the newfound support of the community, we will be able to make a lasting and positive impact on the student body,” Khan said of the campaign.