By Shannon Boklaschuk
As the new school year gets underway, Tasnim Jaisee is encouraging all College of Arts and Science students to become involved in the Arts and Science Students Union (ASSU).
Jaisee was elected president of the ASSU in the spring and began serving in her new role on May 1—a post she will hold throughout the 2019-20 academic year.
“I’ve been part of this organization since my first year of university and I’ve seen it grow into what it is today,” said Jaisee, an undergraduate student studying political studies and women’s and gender studies.
“I wanted to contribute more of my ideas to (the) ASSU. I felt that I can bring a lot to this organization with my expertise that I’ve picked up throughout the years through other presidents that I’ve worked with. I also sat as a vice-president last year—as vice-president marketing for (the) ASSU.”
In addition to Jaisee, the ASSU’s other executive members for 2019-20 include Amber Jackson (vice-president internal), Nadia Ristau (vice-president external), Richard Williams (vice-president academic) and Palak Dhillon (vice-president marketing).
Jaisee said one of her goals as ASSU president is to help make the University of Saskatchewan (USask) campus accessible and inclusive for all.
“We’re going to be having advocacy events that relate to a lot of social justice projects that are important to students on campus and this organization,” she said. “Additionally, we’re doing a lot of academic-related activities as well to help students stay successful throughout the year.”
The ASSU is located in room 218 in the Arts Building. All students who are currently enrolled in the College of Arts and Science are welcome to attend the ASSU’s meetings on Mondays at 5 pm.
Jaisee said the ASSU seeks to empower students and to give them a voice. The organization hosts social and networking events throughout the year and offers a number of services, including locker sales and poster stamping.
The ASSU also has a wide variety of past mid-term and final exams in various subjects that are available for use as study aids by College of Arts and Science students. As well, the organization provides scholarships to outstanding undergraduate students in the college who display exceptional leadership qualities, community involvement and academic achievement.
Jaisee said the ASSU creates a “very fun and friendly” environment that’s open and welcoming for all arts and science undergraduate students.
“Any arts and science undergraduate student can join the ASSU. As we are the biggest college on campus we expect more members to join,” she said.
The first week of the new school year will be a particularly busy time for Jaisee. In addition to her ASSU duties and attending her new classes, she will also be giving a talk to hundreds of people on Sept. 7 as part of the TEDxUniversityofSaskatchewan 2019 lineup.
During her speaking engagement, Jaisee will reflect on her own experiences of overcoming adversities related to her physical disability.
“I’ve had to face a lot of different hardships in my life, especially with accessibility—whether it be school, personal life or social events,” said Jaisee.
“I wanted to do my … talk based on personal struggles that I’ve faced, and I wanted to share my life’s experiences with everybody about how I’ve come to overcome these challenges in my life—because a lot of my life has not been easy. It was a matter of advocating for my needs, and that’s what made me want to share this idea through the TEDx event.”
Jaisee came to USask at the age of 17 after graduating from Saskatoon’s Evan Hardy Collegiate. At the time she assumed she would study science at university—both of her parents have graduate degrees in the sciences—but she soon found her passion in political studies and women’s and gender studies. One of the things she appreciates about the College of Arts and Science is the wide variety of classes that are on offer, enabling students to explore many interests.
“There are so many opportunities through this college,” said Jaisee, who is now 20. “You don’t just have to pick whether you want to be in the sciences or you want to be in the arts; there’s so many different combinations of majors and minors and even certificates that you can get from this college.”
During her undergraduate studies, Jaisee has been involved in many activities at USask. For example, she’s written articles for the student-run newspaper The Sheaf, served as vice-president culture and communications for the Bangladesh Undergraduate Student Federation and has taken part in various cultural events within the local Saskatoon community as part of the Bangladeshi Community Association of Saskatchewan. She is also working as a student ambassador for USask’s student recruitment office.
During the summer of 2019 she was employed as a communications assistant summer student at Saskatoon Sexual Health, where she worked on projects emphasizing sexual and reproductive health rights.
Now, as ASSU president, Jaisee wants all undergraduate students to find their home in the College of Arts and Science and to get involved with the college's student organization.
“Our door in this office is always open for all arts and science undergraduate students,” she said. “We are more than happy to help out students however they may want our service.”