York honours the generosity of Atkinson students

The Atkinson Students’ Association (ASA) will be honoured for its 23 years of generous giving to the York University community. The student union officially closed its doors for good in July 2009, a result of the amalgamation of the University’s two largest faculties – the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies and the Faculty of Arts – to create the current Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

York will mount an honorary plaque in the Canadian Federation of Students study area of Scott Library in tribute of the final year of the Atkinson Faculty and to recognize the 2008-2009 Legacy Board of Directors of the ASA for its outstanding commitment to York University.

“ASA worked hard to fulfil the mandates of the organization,” said Ali Qamar (BAS Spec. Hons. ’09), the 2008-2009 academic director of the ASA. “We view our contributions as having a lasting impact that will establish more accessible funds for students in years ahead and as a way to give back to the University that has given so much.”

Above: Atkinson Students’ Association presents a government-matched cheque for $50,000 to York Student Financial Aid at the 2009 Speed Mentoring event (renamed Ready…Set…Mentor!). From left, Paul Marcus, president & CEO of York University Foundation; Guy Burry (BA ’82), chair of the York University Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, Bill Hatanaka (BA Comb. Hons. ’77), York to the Power of 50 campaign co-chair; Saad Pasha and Ali Qamar, representatives of the Atkinson Students’ Association; and Mamdouh Shoukri, president & vice-chancellor of York.

Giving back to fellow York peers has been a central part of the ASA’s mission since its inception, with donations totalling more than half a million dollars since 1986. In 2009 alone, the group donated more than $37,000 to benefit worthy York student causes.

While in existence, the ASA operated one of the most accessible health and dental plans for students on campus, provided assisting services and emergency bursaries, granted free professional legal services to all York students and contributed to student bursary, award and scholarship funds.

Right: Atkinson Students’ Association representatives Junaid Khan (left) and Fathima Jaffer (BAS Spec. Hons. ’07) at the fourth annual Honour Court Reception & Dedication held in 2006. Honour Court stones recognize donors with cumulative giving of more than $100,000 to the University.

Reminiscing about the many accomplishments of the ASA, Qamar shared his feelings about his time as academic director and the sense of pride he felt creating a positive difference in the lives of York students.

“My team of directors and I are the last board to serve this association and we feel extremely proud to have been a part of such an important legacy at York University. Our closure was the first time in recent Canadian history that a student union went through the dissolution process and it’s great to recognize how ASA has been a sturdy foundation in the lives of many students.”

Support provided by the Atkinson Students’ Association falls within York University’s Transform50 priority, helping to transform student lives with scholarships, bursaries and awards. Nearly one-quarter of the funds raised for the York to the Power of 50 campaign has been directed to undergraduate and graduate student scholarships, bursaries and awards. The $200-million campaign is now in its final phase.