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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.

How GSS Has Served Grad Students: Annual Review 2019-2020

Have you ever wondered how your Graduate Student Society (GSS) have been representing and advocating on behalf of you and all graduate students at UBC Vancouver?

In 2019-2020, we focused our efforts in three key areas:

  1. Equity & Diversity: Re-affirmed our commitment to represent and champion students from diverse and marginalized backgrounds with active, equitable actions and policies
  2. Wellness: Engaged with multiple partners across and beyond campus to tackle the spectrum of problems that impact graduate student mental health
  3. Funding & Finance: Voiced the ongoing financial crises graduate students face, on multiple platforms and actively providing data-backed solutions to University administration and government officials.

Check out our GSS Annual Review 2019-2020 for all the highlights!

GSS Council Summary – June 2021


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 VP University & Academic Affairs Appointment: Yundi Wang

The GSS is excited to announce the appointment of Yundi Wang as the new VP University and Academic Affairs.

Yundi is a third-year Neuroscience PhD candidate and an active volunteer in the UBC community. Some of her goals for her term include:

  1. Continuing the advocacy work on equitable tuition consultation and increased funding and scholarship/bursaries opportunities
  2. Opening up discussions surrounding an equitable and safe transition to campus reopening and onwards
  3. Exploring equitable and accessible models of higher education for current and future graduate students

Yundi’s term as VPUAA will start immediately. Please join us in welcoming Yundi 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 Letter on the Mass Grave of 215 Children at Kamloops Residential School and UBC Honorary Degree to John O’Grady

Dear Members of the UBC GSS community,

On May 27th, 215 Indigenous children were found buried at the site of the former Kamloops Residential School in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation territory. This school was one of the largest institutions in Canada’s residential school systems and was opened under Roman Catholic administration in 1890. In 1969, the federal government overtook the operation from the church to operate as a day school until it closed in 1978. This discovery continues to be devastating for Indigenous peoples and for non-Indigenous people of Turtle Island. It is believed that these children’s deaths were undocumented and are part of the other missing and murdered Indigenous women and children across the nation.

The GSS is run by and for the graduate students at UBC Vancouver, which includes members of all backgrounds and identities. Our fellow Indigenous students are valued community members and it is our responsibility to provide and protect safe and inclusive environments on campus and in virtual spaces. While the University has stated that there is an “aware[ness] of the community concerns relating to the honorary degree,” and that the “issues raised are deeply upsetting,” this response does not feel appropriate for this level of devastation. It is the responsibility of all UBC staff, faculty, associates, students and community members to ensure that we are using the language that emphasizes the gravity of the situation. At the GSS, we refuse to accept delayed responses to this matter and we will push for reconciliation in accordance with the consultation of Indigenous UBC community members.

Therefore, in the spirit of true reconciliation with our Indigenous community, the UBC GSS would like to call upon the Vancouver Senate Tributes Committee to revoke the 1986 honorary degree conferred to John O’Grady, who was principal at the Kamloops Residential School from 1939 to 1952, and for the University to consult with Indigenous UBC community members to address their needs, concerns and desires. We at the GSS offer our sincerest apologies and stand with Indigenous families and communities across the nation. Furthermore, we would like to also call for further investigations into all honorary degrees conferred by UBCV and UBCO to current and past recipients in order for the University to commit to the accountability and responsibility needed for creating and sustaining safe, inclusive, and equitable communities.

It is difficult to begin to understand how our students have been adversely affected by the recent news. However, the GSS believes that the patriarchal and colonial systems that underlie the university institution must be approached through decolonization, beginning with consultation of Indigenous communities across Canada. The GSS is committed to decolonization and reconciliation through our work, support, and service to the UBC community and broader society.

Graduate Student Society of UBC Vancouver

Photo credit: Global News

GSS Council Summary – May 2021


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!


GSS Statement: re. guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin

On Monday the jury in the Derek Chauvin murder trial delivered a guilty verdict on all three counts. The guilty verdict provides a measure of justice it does not end institutional and systemic racism.

The Black Lives Matter movement has shone a powerful light on the pervasive faces of racism that exist in societies across the world.

As representatives of an incredibly diverse community, we aim to give voices to graduate students’ experiences of prejudice and to break down barriers to an inclusive and equitable society. We are currently reaching out to our entire community to provide their experience, so we can build a platform of advocacy that truly addresses the most pressing issues.

Graduate students can still complete the GSS Anti-Racism survey and have their voices heard.

We are also pleased to see UBC addressing this issue at an institutional level through initiatives like the Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Task Force which launched last month. We urge our graduate student community to engage with opportunities to shape a more equitable campus.

GSS Haiku Competition Spring 2021: Results


Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter our Spring Haiku Competition. We were blown away by the quality and creativity of the responses. 

Our Theme was: Grad Students in Spring, and we had 5 awesome entries who will all be winning a prize for their creativity.

[/vc_column_text][ultimate_spacer height=”10″][dt_fancy_title title=”Our Winners” title_size=”h3″][ultimate_spacer height=”10″][dt_gallery_masonry bwb_columns=”desktop:2|h_tablet:4|v_tablet:3|phone:2″ image_border_radius=”0px” project_icon_border_width=”0px” include=”25068,25064,25063,25062,25061″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1617834754741{margin-bottom: 20px !important;}”]


Name Program Poem Title
Alyssa MEd – Education for Sustainability Step Count
Davi PhD – Atmospheric Sciences Knock Knock
Emily PhD – Biomedical Engineering Immersed
Jonathan MSc – Computer Science Zoom
Hailee MEng – Mechanical Engineering Pokemon

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Statement on Anti-Asian Racism

Asian students both domestic and international are a large and valued part of the graduate student community here at UBC. Whether you are from Canada’s diverse Asian communities or an international student coming to study in British Columbia, you deserve the right to study in an environment that is safe and free from prejudice.

The recent rise of anti-Asian prejudice amplified by COVID-19, is even more saddening, given the history of anti-Asian discrimination in British Columbia. From the earliest days of settlement Asian immigrants were excluded from Society, denied their rights, and, in the case of Japanese Canadians, sent to internment camps during the Second World War. Great efforts that have been made in recent years to elucidate and address this troubled history. But more work is required.

We were pleased to see the UBC President address this issue forcefully in his statement (March 20). We are also hopeful that new policy initiatives like the Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Taskforce will help address racism on campus.

Last year the GSS established its own Anti-Racism Taskforce to address issues of prejudice and discrimination, and to make concrete policy recommendations focused on graduate students. We actively encourage any graduate student who wishes to discuss these difficult issues to reach out to us. Your voice will be heard, and we will take your concerns to those who make decisions. Each of us has a role to play in challenging racism and prejudice where we see it and in calling for policies that promote equity.

Contact the GSS Anti-Racism Taskforce

Read UBC President Santa Ono’s statement on this issue

Graduate students call on federal government to utilize university residence isolation plans as an equitable alternative to mandatory hotel stay for arriving international students

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Eight graduate student societies and associations, representing 91,000 graduate students across Canada, are calling on the federal government to approve university-administered quarantine plans at university residences as an equitable alternative to 3-day mandatory hotel stay for arriving international students.[/vc_column_text][ultimate_spacer height=”15″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″ css=”.vc_custom_1615766077586{background-color: #008186 !important;}”][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][ult_content_box bg_color=”#008186″ box_shadow=”horizontal:px|vertical:px|blur:px|spread:px|style:none|” hover_box_shadow=”horizontal:px|vertical:px|blur:px|spread:px|style:none|”][vc_column_text]

Read Graduate Students’ Joint Letter to the Federal Government 

[/vc_column_text][/ult_content_box][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][ultimate_spacer height=”15″][vc_column_text]On February 21st, 2021, Canada introduced new restrictions on international travel requiring all travellers arriving in Canada to isolate in a federally-approved hotel for three days at their own expense. While restrictions on international travel to Canada are required to ensure safety and wellbeing of travellers and residents, we believe the unequitable barriers to entry to Canada must be mitigated for those that must enter the country for essential travel.

Graduate students are a group that must enter Canada to be able to partake in their studies, which is primarily research which takes place in research facilities on and around campuses.

As organizations advocating on behalf of graduate students, our priority is the health and safety of our respective student bodies and broader community. We believe university residences’ isolation programs are a safe, equitable and affordable alternative to mandatory 3-day hotel stay for international graduate students who must enter the country for their research and studies.[/vc_column_text][ultimate_spacer height=”15″][vc_column_text]“We believe there is an opportunity here to utilize university residence isolation programs as a safe and affordable alternative to mandatory hotel stay that will reduce costs for students and allow for greater utilization of hotel space for other arriving groups. Our university residences’ quarantine plans have proven to be safe and effective programs so far and we think approving them would be beneficial especially as we see universities start to re-open and more students arrive in Canada”.
– Alireza Kamyabi, Vice-President External Relations, Graduate Student Society of University of British Columbia Vancouver

“International graduate students are key contributors to the academic mission of Canadian universities, and we need to reduce travel-related barriers so they can begin or continue their studies here. Our universities’ federally-approved isolation packages are the ideal compromise between affordability, safety, and accessibility for these students.”
– Marc Waddingham, President, University of Alberta’s Graduate Student Association,

“It’s already difficult for international students to adjust to a foreign country. In addition to that, incoming international students face high financial stress due to increased payments that are required to start a life in a new home country. Forcing students to also pay a minimum of $2,000 for a hotel room stay is creating more financial barriers for students, especially when universities are prepared to receive international students during the pandemic and have government approved quarantine plans in place.”
– Humaira Inam, President, University of Saskatchewan’s Graduate Students’ Association[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Read the letter to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and the Minister of Health


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