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Welcome to new GSS VP External Relations – Natalie Cappe

The GSS is excited to announce the appointment of Natalie Cappe as your new VP External Relations. A Master’s student in Community and Regional Planning, Natalie comes with comprehensive understanding of the role as she has been serving as the GSS External Policy Assistant since August 2020.

Get to know Natalie Cappe and her priorities:

My name is Natalie Cappe, and I am completing a Masters in Community and Regional Planning. I am running for the position of Vice President External Relations to leverage my knowledge of effective student government to improve the lives of graduate students at UBC. I have served as the External Policy Assistant of the Graduate Student Society since August 2020 and have gained a comprehensive understanding of the role of the GSS’ Vice President External Relations. I have worked alongside the past two students who have held the position of Vice President External Relations at the GSS (Alireza Kamyabi and Ashni Gill) to advocate for UBC graduate students at a provincial and federal level. Some of the most notable initiatives in which I have been involved include: the extension of the BC Graduate Scholarship to offer more funding opportunities for graduate students, the publication of a report outlining the importance of graduate education in Canada, as well as a critical review of UBC’s Sexual Misconduct policy to improve safety and wellbeing of graduate students. I have also been involved in the establishment of Canada’s first informal federal alliance of graduate students. In addition, I have worked closely with UBC’s Alma Mater Society where we advocate for solutions to issues that can affect all students such as affordable housing and improved access to mental health support. If elected as VPX, while in office, my priorities include:

    1. Collaborate with Graduate Students of Canada (GSSC) to advocate for improved federal funding (such as tri-agency funding) for graduate students that accounts for inflation
    2. Continue to work with UBC’s Alma Mater Society to advocate for: improved affordable housing for students, improved support for Indigenous students, and mental health support
    3. Work with UBC administration and student leaders at some of our partner organizations (those affiliated with the Alliance of British Columbia Students) to facilitate improved training and education surrounding sexual misconduct

As a result of the experience I have gained and the relationships I have built working in student government thus far, I am confident that I can effectively serve the Vice President External Office.

Natalie’s office term will start immediately and end in April 2022.

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

Financial Officer 2021-2022: TAYO OLAREWAJU

Tayo Olarewaju is our Financial Officer for the 2021-2022 session who plans to complete a GSS financial policy and procedure manual in collaboration with relevant committees, explore ways that GSS funds can be prudently invested to yield maximum returns to the benefit of graduate students and support other executives in achieving set goals. Through this questionnaire, you’ll get to know fun tidbits about who he is and all his colorful aspirations for this role. So, without further ado, read on to learn more about our hardworking and passionate executive. Hopefully you discover something new! 

What is your favorite thing about/at the UBC campus?  

The scenic attraction – it is a beautiful campus  

What do you most admire about the GSS community and organization as a whole?  

Diverse intelligent minds coming together to enhance knowledge 

What was the last book, movie, or TV show you read/watched?  

King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild  

What is your idea of perfect happiness?  

Delighting in what is most delightful 

Who is your role model and why?  

I have many role models. For this purpose, I choose William Wilberforce. He was elected to parliament as a student and spurred profound changes 

If you could change the world in one way or the other, what would you change? 

Increase love and eradicate hate  

Do you have a non-university-related passion or hobby? What is it?  

I love playing table tennis.  I have fond memories of playing for hours 

What life lessons have you learned this past year?  

a) Seeming insignificant choices can have lifetime consequences

b) Journalling may be helpful

What is your life motto?  

It is well

VP Students 2021-2022: SAM KENSTON

Sam Kenston is our VP Students for the 2021-2022 session who wants to support and collaborate with Affiliate Organizations in organizing events, classes and activities that will help to achieve GSS core mandate of promoting the academic, social, and cultural interest of graduate students. Through this questionnaire, you’ll get to know fun tidbits about who he is and all his colorful aspirations for this role. So, without further ado, read on to learn more about our hardworking and passionate executive. Hopefully you discover something new! 
 
What is your favorite thing about/at the UBC campus? 

The garden and the museum. I often take a break from academic work to just visit any of the museums or take a walk in the garden

What do you most admire about the GSS community and organization as a whole? 

The diversity!!! GSS is a wonderful place to work with people from diverse academic and cultural backgrounds

What was the last book, movie, or TV show you read/watched? 

I just finished reading the book “Becoming” by Michelle Obama

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

Be content with what you have and live every day knowing that you are not where you used to be, and you’re blessed

What is the trait you love most about yourself? 

My humour and desire to put a smile on the faces of strangers (people I do not know and may never get to meet again) 

Who is your role model and why? 

Cristiano Ronaldo, his positive attitude to life, tenacity and self-confidence

What secret talent do you possess? 

I can fix the Rubik’s cube 

If you could change the world in one way or the other, what would you change? 

I would change the way we were taught to look at people as “coming from different countries/continents” and rather teach people that all humans are the same, and equal, we just happen to live in different parts of the world

What is your greatest fear?

 I fear the day the so-called powerful countries will start fighting and may end up destroying the world using bombs

Do you have a non-university-related passion or hobby? What is it? 

Make videos (vlogging) for my YouTube channel

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 

Nothing, I am fine the way I am

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

When I became a medical doctor

What life lessons have you learned this past year? 

I should not worry about things that are beyond my control

What is your life motto? 

Love one another, in every situation, give thanks 

VP External Relations 2021-2022: ASHNI GILL

Ashni Gill is our VP External Relations for the 2021-2022 session who hopes her advocacy for students on issues such as sexualized violence, discrimination, mental health and funding, will be heard and responded to with equitable changes so that graduate students are provided with safe and opportune environments for success. Through this questionnaire, you’ll get to know fun tidbits about who she is and all her colorful aspirations for this role. So, without further ado, read on to learn more about our hardworking and passionate executive. Hopefully you discover something new! 
 
What is your favorite thing about/at the UBC campus?  

My favourite thing is the greenery. I love walking and seeing all of the trees that line the walkways. I even have a favourite one – outside of the Hennings building

What do you most admire about the GSS community and organization as a whole?  

I appreciate the effort and time that each student and staff member takes to advocate on the behalf of students

What was the last book, movie, or TV show you read/watched? 

I got on the YOU train so that’s my current Netflix viewing

What is the trait you love most about yourself?  

My work ethic

Who is your role model and why?  

My mamma because she has devoted her life to protecting her family 

What is your greatest fear?  

Heights

Do you have a non-university-related passion or hobby? What is it?  

I love plants; I never had a green thumb until COVID

What do you consider your greatest achievement?  

My ability to persevere 

What life lessons have you learned this past year?  

Social interaction is very important. Always make time for yourself an do not be afraid to ask for space

VP University & Academic Affairs 2021-2022: YURAN ZHANG

Yuran Zhang is our VP University & Academic Affairs for the 2021-2022 session who is absolutely passionate about advocating for graduate students to make grad school more accessible, affordable, and accomplishable. Through this questionnaire, you’ll get to know fun tidbits about who she is and all her colorful aspirations for this role. So, without further ado, read on to learn more about our hardworking and passionate executive. Hopefully you discover something new! 

What is your favorite thing about/at the UBC campus? 

The cherry blossoms in Springs! 

What do you most admire in the GSS community and organization as a whole?  

That people a respectful, supportive, and genuinely care about graduate students 

What was the last book, movie, or TV show you read/watched?  

The six – a documentary talks about six Chinese survivors of the Titanic 

What is the trait you love most in yourself?  

Sincerity 

What secret talent do you possess?  

Not sure if it counts, but I could make foods with different tastes every time even with the same recipe 😛 

If you could change the world in one way or the other, what would you change?  

KILL ALL DISEASES 

What is your greatest fear?  

Engineering drawing 

Do you have a non-university-related passion or hobby? What is it?  

Graphic designs. I used to make money from designing simple commercial graphics, but eventually quit because however you change it, they’d always use the first draft! 

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 

Procrastination! 

What life lesson have you learned this past year?  

Do not take anyone around you for granted 

What is your life motto?  

Whatever lets you sleep at night 

GSS Engagement Survey 2021 Highlights

In Fall 2021, the GSS ran a survey to assess the engagement of UBC graduate students with the Society. The survey consisted of the following topics: awareness, past events, and future events. The results will be instrumental in targeting certain events and engagement methods that have provided the highest participation.

Here are some highlights from the survey results: 

Response rate: A total of 413 respondents started the Engagement survey, and 387 respondents reached the end of the survey, for a completion rate of 94%.

GSS Awareness: 91% of respondents are aware of the Graduate Student Society. Among respondents who know about the GSS, 70% of respondents do not know anyone involved in the GSS. The top three social media platforms that graduate students use to follow the GSS are Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, respectively. 

GSS Past Events: The top three GSS events that graduate students attended in the past are career-building workshops, networking events, and organized sports. In the past six months, 72% of respondents did not attend any GSS events and 25% of respondents attended one or two events. 

GSS Future Events: The top four events or services that respondents want the GSS to hold in the future are outdoor events or hikes, career-building workshops, subsidized tickets, and networking events. Near half of the respondents (43%) prefer in-person events and another 43% of respondents would attend the events either in-person or online. 

On weekdays, the best time window for graduate students to attend GSS events is from 6 pm to 8 pm. Generally, they prefer to attend events on Friday more than other weekdays. On the weekend, they can attend events from 10 am to 8 pm with an overall preference for Saturday over Sunday. 

Thank you to everyone who has completed the survey!

For more information, please contact .

GSS President 2021-2022: KIMANI KARANGU

Kimani Karangu is our GSS President for the 2021-2022 session who plans to make GSS a bench marking society for JEDI. Through this questionnaire, you’ll get to know fun tidbits about who he is and all his colorful aspirations for his role. So, without further ado, read on to learn more about our hardworking and passionate executive. Hopefully you discover something new! 

What is your favorite thing about/at the UBC campus? 

Craziness of the main mall, and especially the daily random postings on the plaque outside the school of Engineering. 

What do you most admire about the GSS community and organization as a whole? 

The diversity and passion of staff and executives’ teams 

What was the last book, movie, or TV show you read/watched? 

One who dreams is called a prophet 

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

Still looking for it hahaha  

What is the trait you love most about yourself? 

Selflessness 

Who is your role model and why? 

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, relentlessness on oppression 

What secret talent do you possess? 

Dancing 

If you could change the world in one way or the other, what would you change

More kindness to humanity is needed 

What is your greatest fear? 

Failure 

Do you have a non-university-related passion or hobby? Yes What is it? Swimming 

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 

Nothing 

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

Leading the society for almost 4 consecutive years in different capacities 

What life lessons have you learned this past year? 

Nothing is to be taken for granted! 

What is your life motto? 

Discipline and Focus 

GSS’ New VPUAA: Yuran Zhang

The GSS is excited to announce the appointment of Yuran Zhang as your new VP University and Academic Affairs.

A master’s student in Food Science, Yuran self-identifies as a passionate, conscientious and organized student leader. Read her appointment statement:

I’ve always been enthusiastic about advocating for students’ rights and building community on campus through events. Back in my undergraduate studies at Jiangnan University, I was a VP Multimedia Communication at the Students’ Union, where I was able to foster my skills in communication, problem-solving, and coordinating events. In 2019, I joined AIESEC Canada as a Business Development Manager at AIESEC Guelph and built connections with over 50 local companies. Through our efforts, we were able to assist companies to hire international interns and ensure their financial and healthcare benefits. That was the time I realized that I wanted to dedicate myself to advocating for students and young talents. Therefore, after joining UBC, I volunteered in various faculty events and joined the Faculty of Land and Food Systems (LFS) Graduate Student Council as a program representative. Now I hope, by joining GSS, I could contribute more to supporting students from diverse backgrounds and collaborate with awesome GSS members from different faculties.

I identify myself as a passionate, conscientious and organized student leader which I think is what you are looking for in a VPUAA. If I am fortunate enough to be elected, I’d like to bring changes to GSS through the following:

    1. Make Peer Support service more accessible and more effective. Peer Support is definitely a great program but maybe less known within faculties. I personally think that it’s important to let students know there’s support here for them. This might be achieved by cooperating with the administrative coordinators of each faculty to circulate the information (which might also be helpful for hiring Peer Support specialists).
    2. Ensure graduate students’ benefits during COVID time. Being a TA and an international student in a research-based program myself, I could deeply feel the difficulties we’re facing because of the pandemic. The rising rents, confusing health care, unawareness of financial aids and losing sense of belongingness are the most common issues I heard from people around me. To better speak for UBC graduate students, we may collect results from university surveys and records of Peer Support.

Thanks for your patient reading. I’m looking forward to building a respectful and diverse community with you at GSS.

Yuran’s term as VPUAA will start immediately. Please join us in welcoming Yuran 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.

Are You Our Next VP University and Academic Affairs?

The GSS is looking to appoint a UBC graduate student to be VP University and Academic Affairs (VPUAA) for the 2021-2022 term via a special resolution at the October council meeting.

The VPUAA is responsible for, among other responsibilities:

  • Representing graduate students to campus partners, including the University Administration, Faculty Association, Graduate Council, and teaching assistants
  • Ensuring graduate student concerns on issues like funding, academic freedom, and equity are heard and that graduate students are represented in University decision making
  • Managing our Peer Support service to ensure grad students can get help dealing with problems they encounter

If you are the interested candidate, please write a brief introduction of yourself and outline the mission or vision you wish to accomplish while in the position. Kindly, send the email to the GSS President () and cc Admin Assistant () no later than October 18, 2021, at noon.

Appointment will be made at the GSS Council meeting on October 21.

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

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