RELEASE: Graduate Student Society Launches mygradstory.ca

on November 27, 2015
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Vancouver, BC – Mygradstory.ca, the first of a series of new initiatives undertaken by the Graduate Student Society, UBC Vancouver (GSS) with a focus on harassment and discrimination, will be launched today. This new website supports the work of a GSS Ad Hoc Committee on Harassment and Discrimination. Mygradstory.ca will provide UBC graduate students who have experienced harassment or discrimination on campus an outlet to “tell their story” confidentially. These stories will provide critical information to the GSS as to the form and manner that discrimination and harassment appear on campus.

The launch of mygradstory.ca is coincidental with the recent press conference organised by UBC graduate students. Regarding the press conference, Tobias Friedel, GSS President says, “The GSS is saddened by the traumatic occurrences experienced by some of our members, and we are inspired by the courage of Glynnis Kirchmeier, Catilin Cunningham, Kaitlin Russell and the leadership of the History Graduate Students Association. We want to assure them of our continued support.”

The GSS is advocating a multi-faceted approach to responding to incidences of violence and discrimination on campus. This approach supports procedural reforms, research on best practices of other universities, improved preparation and training of graduate students and faculty, implementation of awareness and education programs, and programs designed to give students and faculty the means to actively prevent violence and harassment.

“It is important to acknowledge the academic reality many graduate students face. They are very vulnerable and exposed. Their academic success is dependent on research funding, TA positions, and the support and approval of their faculty advisor. This often results in a reluctance to file complaints for a fear of alienating advisors, department heads or university administrators.” Friedel adds.

The GSS believes it is critical to gather input from graduate students on procedural reforms, TA training, and orientation programs and identify existing gaps. Moreover, the GSS proposes that graduate students delivering programs and information to their peers is the most effective way to enable them to create a safe and equitable environment.

To that effect, the GSS will request training support from the university for a GSS active bystander program and similar initiatives to be delivered to graduate students by graduate students.

Research recently conducted by the GSS examines how leading universities in North America respond to violence, harassment, and discrimination as well as the training they provide to Teaching Assistants.

The GSS is hoping to continue to work with UBC administrators on implementation of improved TA training, particularly with respect to violence, harassment, and discrimination in the class room.

“I am encouraged by the positive overall response we have received from key university administrators on implementation of a GSS active bystander program and an extension of the TA training program.” Friedel states.

For more information, please contact Tobias Friedel, President of the Graduate Student Society, UBC Vancouver, at president@gss.ubc.ca.

The Graduate Student Society, UBC Vancouver (GSS) is an independent student society that advocates for over 10,000 graduate students at UBC Vancouver to the administration of UBC and all government levels to enhance graduate student experience. The GSS was incorporated under the Society Act of BC in 1982. For more information, visit www.gss.ubc.ca.

To arrange an interview, please contact:

Tobias Friedel
President
Graduate Student Society, UBC Vancouver
president@gss.ubc.ca

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RELEASE: Graduate Student Society Launches mygradstory.ca