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GSS Council Summary – August 2021

Welcome to the summary of GSS Council on August 19, 2021.

Congratulations to our new Affiliated Organizations: Physics and Astronomy Graduate Student Association, HLI Trainee Association, African Graduate Students (AfriGS) of Acadia, and Counselling Psychology Students Association.

Council this month was short and sweet, with no matters for decision.

The meeting began with one expedient matter: an overview of UBC’s Campus and Community Planning (C+CP)’s upcoming comprehensive campus-wide land use planning process (Campus Vision 2050) – Several staff from C+CP joined the GSS to raise awareness of their work, provide an overview of Campus Vision 2050, answer questions, and understand how the GSS would like to engage through this process.

Subsequently, there were several presentations for discussion, including a report on the House Finance Committee’s recommendations for the GSS to invest in mutual aid portfolios, a proposal by the Governance and Accountability Committee for splitting the FEOO position, and an update by the Strategic Planning Ad-Hoc Committee on the current draft of the 2022-2026 Strategic Plan.

As always, minutes will be available once approved on the GSS website for more details. The next meeting will be on Thursday, September 16, 2021 on Microsoft Teams. All graduate students are welcome to attend, and to join Council as departmental representatives! Contact and for details.

Written by Sophie Penniman

GSS Council Summary – July 2021

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Welcome to the summary of GSS Council on July 15, 2021.

Congratulations to our new Councillors: Bukola Mary Ibitoye (Nursing), and Davi Monticelli (Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences) and new Affiliated Organizations: Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Student Society, Biomedical Engineering Graduate Association (re-affilated), and InterVarsity Graduate Student Fellowship (re-affiliated).

Council dealt efficiently with several important items:

  • The meeting began with two expedient matters: the first was an introduction to decolonization and indigenization in higher education by Dr. Sharon Stein from the Department of Educational Studies – Dr. Stein will be expanding on this topic in the upcoming July Council Retreat; the second was an annual consultation from the Alliance of BC Students on the issues that matter most to graduate students

  • The annual appointment of the Financial and Executive Oversight Officer took place with 2 candidates making it to Council for the vote, including the incumbent. The vote was the closest seen in many years, but eventually the incumbent was voted in – congratulations Tayo Olarewaju on another year as FEOO.

  • The Governance & Accountability Committee came back with recommendations on addressing issues with the mandates of the Services and Elections Committees. Council approved the option of expanding the Services mandate to include engagement matters, dissolving Elections Committee, and considering a more temporary option for administering elections each year. Further steps to achieve this are forthcoming.

Finally, there were several presentations for discussion, including a report on the recently completed internal audit of the GSS by Bakau Consulting; a mid-term review of committees’ SMART Goals; an update on the 2021-22 executives’ goals; and the regular monthly financial overview

As always, minutes will be available once approved on the GSS website for more details. The next meeting will be on Thursday, August 19, 2021 on Microsoft Teams. All graduate students are welcome to attend, and to join Council as departmental representatives! Contact and for details.

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Tayo Olarewaju: GSS Financial & Executive Oversight Officer Re-Appointed

The GSS is excited to announce the re-appointment of Tayo Olarewaju as your Financial and Executive Oversight Officer (FEOO).

Tayo Olarewaju is a Ph.D. candidate at Peter A. Allard School of Law who possesses law and business degrees. He was appointed to the position of FEOO last year, and this experience has enabled him to engage in improving the financial reporting structure and executive oversight at the GSS. 

In the 2021-2022 term, Tayo intends to complete various ongoing projects, such as discussions on executives’ work hours and honoraria, ways to prudently maximize returns from GSS funds, and finalizing necessary accounting policy documentation. He is also interested in assisting in filling gaps that he has become aware of in the past year (e.g. inadequate executive transition procedure).

Tayo’s term as FEOO will continue until August 2022. Please join us in congratulating Tayo on his re-appointment to the GSS Executive Team.

Thank you to the other candidates for their interest in serving the UBC graduate student community. We wish you all the best.

GSS Council Summary – June 2021

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Welcome to the summary of GSS Council on June 20, 2021.

Congratulations to our new Councillor: Desiree Fiaccabrino (Chemistry) and new Affiliated Organizations: Graduate Consulting and Business Network and Microbiology and Immunology Graduate Student Society.

Council this month saw several major matters that carried it far into the evening:

  • The meeting began with an expedient matter: a presentation from the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights group at UBC calling for the GSS to support and act on this urgent global matter; the Council pledged its support and the Academic & External Affairs Committee together with the VP External will continue the relationship

  • Following the resignation of the newly-elected VP University and Academic Affairs, Council decided to appoint an interim VPUAA while a by-election is being prepared; 3 interested candidates participated in the election and Council voted in Yundi Wang as our newest VPUAA! We hope our students will join us in welcome Yundi to this vital role as advocate in many important campus spaces

  • Council had an engaged discussion about the current state of Human Resources at the society, eventually voting in favour of the President hiring a contract HR position to address staff needs since the HR Committee chair position remains vacant and there is potential for greater changes to HR personnel structure at the Society

  • Discussion on the proposed 2022-2026 Strategic Plan themes continued after being postponed last month, and Council voted in favour of the themes “Graduate Student Experience”, “Resilience”, and “Our Society”

Finally, Council heard presentations from GSS staff about the GSS Archives project being started this summer; an update on the renovation of the Thea Koerner House and creation of the Graduate Life Centre; and the monthly financial overview.

As always, minutes will be available once approved on the GSS website for more details. The next meeting will be on Thursday, June 17, 2021. All graduate students are welcome to attend, and to join Council as departmental representatives! Contact and for details.

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GSS Council Summary – May 2021

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Welcome to the summary of GSS Council on May 20, 2021.

Congratulations to our new Councillor(s): Louise Harding and Sandeep Gill (School of Population and Public Health), Aaron Loewen (reseated, Cell & Developmental Biology), Teesha Luehr (reseated, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology).

Council this month was short and light, despite some big, historical motions:

  • Notably, we heard a special presentation from the AMS VP External Affairs, Saad Shoaib and previous GSS VP External Relations, Alireza Kamyabi regarding the AMS/GSS Memorandum of Understanding on External Advocacy: this was a unanimously carried motion to sign a MOU that puts into writing the intention of the AMS and GSS to continue their fruitful relationship specifically for external advocacy efforts. We hope this signals a long, symbiotic relationship between the two societies to advocate for graduate student interests at a provincial and federal level!
  • There were two policy revisions: one meta-revision to the Policy Revision Form itself (whoa), and an amendment to the GSS Events Fund Policy that expands the scope of the fund to include non-event projects – we hope our Affiliated Organizations enjoy and take advantage.
  • The 2021-22 budget was approved unanimously with almost no discussion – a first for the GSS in some years as this is normally a hotly debated topic.

Finally, the President, Kimani Karangu introduced the key advocacy areas of the 2021-22 Executive team, including affordability, anti-racism, mental health and wellbeing, combatting sexualized violence, and continuing work on the awaited Graduate Life Centre. Council also regained some energy to have a discussion on the presentation by the Strategic Planning ad-hoc Committee about proposed changes to their themes structure for the upcoming 2022-2026 Strategic Plan. This motion to make the changes will be brought back in June Council for a more in-depth presentation on the proposed structure as more information was requested.

As always, minutes will be available once approved on the GSS website for more details. The next meeting will be on Thursday, June 17, 2021. All graduate students are welcome to attend!

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GSS Council Summary – December 2020

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Welcome to the summary of GSS Council on December 10, 2020 (December’s Council happens on the 2nd Thursday instead of the 3rd to allow our Councillors to take a break for the holidays, even though that might not involve travel this year!).

Congratulations to our new Councillor(s): Bethany Adair (Medical Geneticfs), Taryn Scarff (Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries), William Canero (School of Community and Regional Planning), and the re-election of Virginia Pichler (Microbiology and Immunology).

We also welcome a lot of new and renewed Affiliated Organizations: Chemical and Biological Engineering (CHBE) Graduate Student Council, GrasPods (BC Cancer Graduate Student and Post Doctoral Fellow Society), Geography Graduate Student Association, Institute of Ocean and Fisheries Graduate Student Society, and IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Safe Space).


 

Council heard several important guest presentations, including:

  • one from our very own Dean Susan Porter from the Faculty of Postdoctoral and Graduate Studies about the Graduate Life Centre project and the successful advocacy to increase minimum funding for PhD students;
  • the annual audit presentation from our accountants (our paperwork got a shoutout);
  • and a set of presentations from StudentCare, the company that provides your Extended Health & Dental Plan, on some possible options for a legal representation service for students

Council passed a “consent agenda”, a set of bylaw amendments previously approved for the 2020 AGM to be included in the upcoming referendum, and some larger ones separately also for referendum. These included proposed changes that are small and “housekeeping” in nature like how we edit our Policy Manual typos (exciting!), to larger proposals such as a new fee to maintain the GSS Graduate Student Financial Aid, an emergency fund for graduate students that are in financial distress. All these proposed amendments can be found in the Council minutes and will appear in the upcoming referendum in early 2021. Other discussion maters included updates on the VP University & Academic Affair, Nicolas Romualdi, and his office’s work setting remote invigilation policies, a financial update from Financial and Executive Oversight Officer Tayo Olarewaju, debate on endorsing the #StudentsforLoujain campaign, and updates on committee goals from the Governance & Accountability committee.

As always, minutes will be available once approved on the GSS website for more details. The next meeting will be on Thursday, January 21, 2021. All graduate students are welcome to attend!

 

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May Council Update

Our most recent GSS Council Meeting took place on May 16 at the Michael Kingsmill forum in the AMS Nest. Council is made up of representatives from departments across campus and is the Society’s most important decision-making body.

This was the first official council meeting for our new executive team and there were several important items decided.


  • The Society agreed a procedure for providing funds to graduate students through our Graduate Student Financial Aid fund
  • We made changes to our Event Fund to make it more accessible to graduate student groups
  • We agreed the GSS budget for the new financial year including support for a wide range of events and other activities

The Society welcomed 2 new councillors to the GSS

  • Alvionne Gardner-Harrison was seated as departmental representative for the School of Library, Archives and Information Studies.
  • Philip Wijaya was seated as departmental representative for the School of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

And several new Committee Members

  • Andy An was seated as an Ordinary Member to the Code and Policy Committee.
  • Alvionne Gardner-Harrison was seated as member on the Governance and Accountability Committee.
  • Timothy Luk was seated as member on the Code and Policy committee
  • Claire Preston was seated as an Ordinary Member to the House Finance Committee.
  • Nevena Rebic was re-seated as GSS Representative on the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Committee

If you want more information about GSS Council meetings you can access all the minutes here: http://gss.ubc.ca/council

Study Room, Thea Koerner House, UBC

GSS Loft, Rm. 4202 of AMS Student Nest, UBC

Leon’s Lounge, Thea Koerner House, UBC

Thea’s Lounge, Thea Koerner House, UBC

Penthouse, Thea Koerner House, UBC