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? 


Who is your role model and why? 

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, relentlessness on oppression 

What secret talent do you possess? 


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? 


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? 


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.

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


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.

Written by Victoria Gomez[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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.

Written by Victoria Gomez[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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

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