We strive to be an open and welcoming place where students from all backgrounds can have their concerns addressed. We try to represent groups on campus who have traditionally been marginalized, or those who have specific needs that are not being met by the University.
Areas of Focus
Students with Dependents
The GSS annual Student Satisfaction Survey’s reveal that as a group, students who have dependents tend to have very distinct needs. Which exhibits both positive and negative impacts on a students’ life. Perhaps unsurprisingly, students with dependents experience more financial hardship but they also enjoy better mental health and wellness, which could be a reflection of the power of family support they enjoy.
7% of graduate students support dependents at UBC, both in the form of children, or relatives they care for. GSS understands that these students have different requirements, in terms of housing, transportation, work-life balance, and financial needs. They also interact with their peers and the campus a different tangent, many a times struggling to balance their personal life and academic/professional life. GSS advocates for these students, to help provide for their needs, and to make the university aware of the issues they encounter.
UBC has the 2nd largest international student community in Canada. 30% of masters students and 44% of doctoral students at UBC are international. With international students adding to the diversity of the university, GSS also ensures that they are welcomed and their transition into Canada made easier. The society holds a number of orientation sessions at the beginning of the academic year welcoming all, and advocacy team at GSS is available at all times to guide students better.
To learn more about the facilities available for international students, visit the online UBC International Student Guide.
Students with Disabilities
The society advocates for a campus that is accessible and free from discrimination. We also understand the added financial pressures that can exist for students with disabilities, particularly as many domestic students have already reached the limit of financial support from the government.
To learn more about the specific facilities available for students with disabilities, visit UBC Student Services.
Sexual Abuse & Violence
The GSS believes that sexual violence and harassment has no place on UBC campus. We support the University and the AMS in creating services to support survivors of sexual violence and to develop targeted education.
The society holds Sexual Assault Prevention and Intervention (SAPI) training for graduate students, for them to learn how to intervene in such uncomfortable situations. GSS strives to create a safe and comfortable space for students to gain knowledge and feel safe and protected at all times.
To learn more about the coming SAPI training sessions, check out our Events page.
The need to represent students from diverse and marginalized backgrounds is a central part of the GSS’s mission. The GSS works actively to help make the campus a welcoming place for all students, eliminating any form of discrimination while promoting values of equity. The society has focused advocacy efforts towards understanding the specific concerns of all. Through its dedicated Advocacy Team, the society helps provide support to all students, especially those belonging to minority and marginalized groups.
New GSS Equality and Diversity Statement
To support its mission of representing the diversity of the graduate student community, the Society has developed its first official position statement on Equality and Diversity. This was approved by the GSS Council in February 2020. The statement commits the GSS to:
“represent and champion minority and marginalized groups by ensuring their access to resources and serving them in the ways they need, ……future actions must be performed in an equitable, just, and accountable framework so we can fully serve all in their UBC graduate experience.”
Equity and Diversity
The 2019-2020 GSS student survey, consistent with previous years, shows the need to prioritize representation of students from diverse and marginalized backgrounds. As per the GSS Student survey, a comparison with last year shows little variation in the responses received, however, a higher percentage of those identifying themselves as ‘trans’ reported increased discrimination on campus due to transphobia.
Representing Students with Dependents
Around 9% of all graduate students at UBC support dependents during their period of study. Research shows that graduate students with dependents find it more difficult to participate in on-campus activities, suffer more financial burden, and have a different set of challenges and lifestyle as compared to other students. The results from the survey and the personal stories collected through GSS focus groups conducted in April 2019 show that graduate students with dependents experience more financial hardship but they also enjoy better mental health and wellness, which could reflect the power of family support they enjoy. The GSS is working with graduate students with dependents to help address their issues, understand their requirements better and help advocate at the university to incorporate policies which are more flexible to individuals caring for others.
University of British Columbia has the 2nd largest international student community at a university in Canada. 30% of master’s students and 44% of doctoral students at UBC are international. With international students adding to the diversity of the university, the GSS also ensures that they feel welcomed to both the campus and Canada. The GSS provides various services to the international students, from starting the academic year with Orientation Sessions and events, to providing a network of resources, and advocacy services. The society also advocates for the students at provincial and federal level, supporting against tuition hikes, MSP fees, provision of equal services and providing an inclusive network support system.
Gender Justice and Community Engagement Event: Rainbow Social
The GSS survey shows that the LGBTQA+ students struggle to create a sense of community and belonging on campus, while making meaningful connections is found to be challenging. In response to this, the GSS aims to set up a Rainbow Social event, the first of its kind dedicated social event for LGBTQA+ graduate students. The intention is to use the event to establish an Affiliated Organization for LGBTQA+ graduate students, which will allow more events like this to take place in future, and to provide a channel to lobby the University. The affiliated organization would also help create a network, showing their strong presence and the ability to advocate on the behalf of the community. The event was earlier planned for mid-March, which however got postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be tentatively be organized in fall 2020.