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VP External Relations 2021-2022: NATALIE CAPPE

 Natalie Cappe is our VP External Relations for the 2021-2022 session who hopes her advocacy for students 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? 

The incredible people in my program at the School of Community and Regional Planning. My cohort spent our first year together on Zoom and it has been so nice getting to know everyone in person this year.

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

Our provincial reputation and effective advocacy efforts that have improved the accessibility of graduate education.

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

Wanda Vision! I need a season 2.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

Climbing mountains with good friends.

What secret talent do you possess?

I sang in a choir for 10 years before starting grad school.

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

Anything outside! Hiking, skiing, running, cycling, you name it.

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

I wish I didn’t spend so much energy questioning past decisions instead of living in the moment.

An Introduction to Our 2021-2022 Executives

If you didn’t know them already, we would like to introduce the GSS executives for the 2021-2022 academic year who are truly bringing great things to our community. Through a special questionnaire, you’ll get to know fun tidbits about who they are and all their colourful aspirations for their roles. So, without further ado, join us in reverencing our hardworking executives by learning more about who they are as passionate grad students.  


YURAN ZHANG – VP University & Academic Affairs 

SAM KENSTON – VP Students 

TAYO OLAREWAJU – Financial Officer 

NATALIE CAPPE – VP External Relations

GSS Council Summary – April 2021

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Welcome to the summary of GSS Council on April 15, 2021.

Congratulations to our new Councillor(s): Anurag Krishna (Civil Engineering), Mohamed Kamel (Civil Engineering), Saumadritaa Kar (Pathology and Laboratory Medicine), and Sofie McComb (Forest and Conservation Sciences).

We also welcome two new Affiliated Organizations: UBC Black Graduate Student Network and Children’s Literature Student Association at UBC.

This Council was light on decisions and heavy on presentations. We heard from two special guests:

  • A year-in-review from the Alliance of BC Students (ABCS) President, Anne-Elaine Rempel about their advocacy efforts and work with the GSS and AMS
  • A presentation on TA rights and responsibilities from CUPE 2278 President, Gillian Glass briefing councillors on important information for TA’s at this time of year

Notably, Council saw a traditional motion to confer honorary membership to some Councillors who had contributed significantly to the GSS for more than 18 months, granting them lifetime access to Council (no votes or fees, though!). New honorary members include:  Alireza Kamyabi, Arash Shadkam, Christina Weismann, Kate Sedivy-Haley, Lily Takeuchi, Natalie Marshall, Nicolas Romualdi, Pouya Rezaeinia, Sarah Park, and Victoria Gomez.

Besides a couple policy amendments, the rest of Council was presentations, including on the general procedure for the 2021 GSS Elections and recommendations; a consultation on whether to merge the Services and Election Committee, which saw a lot of debate and was referred to the Governance & Accountability Committee; and finally, several presentations from the executive on year-end goal reports, as well as executive portfolio recaps. One of these was a moving presentation from Nicolas Romualdi as he finishes a 4-year dedication to the GSS. Thank you Nicolas, Alireza, and Sarah for your contribution to the GSS as execs during such an extraordinary time in 2020-2021! And welcome to their successors, Alison McClean, Ashni Gill, and Sam Kenston (respectively).

As always, minutes will be available once approved on the GSS website for more details. The next meeting will be on Thursday, May 20, 2021. All graduate students are welcome to attend!

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

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.

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

Notice of Disqualification: 2021 GSS Elections

The GSS Elections Committee has served a notification of disqualification to candidate Remzi Fuentes for the 2021 GSS Executive Elections.

This decision was made as a result of violations of elections policy and in the interest of preserving the integrity of the elections by ensuring fairness for all candidates.

Please note that this does not affect the elections process. The current ballot  will remain open until March 12 and graduate students will still be able to vote as normal.

If you have questions please contact the Electoral and Student Engagement Officer: email

GSS AGM 2020 – 2021

Calling ALL Graduate Students!

We invite you to the Graduate Student Society’s Annual General Meeting! This year we will be holding both the 2020 and 2021 meetings on the same evening. All graduate students at UBC Vancouver are members of their Graduate Student Society, and the AGM is your opportunity to make important collective decisions for the society and to hear about the Society’s work in 2019 and 2020.


For the first time we will be hosting the meeting online via Zoom:

Thu, March 18, 2021

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM PDT


Presentations and discussions will be made on:

  • GSS Year in Review – what did the Society accomplish this year?
  • GSS Executives’ Work – what did our executives get up to?
  • Financial Statements
  • Appointment of Auditor


Graduate Students of UBC Vancouver: Your presence at the AGM is important. It allows us to secure  quorum and vote on important issues!

To thank you for making your voice heard, attendees will be entered to win some amazing raffle prizes of up to $250 value! (You must attend the AGM to be entered).


Make sure your attendance and student # are registered, and RSVP your attendance here!



2020 AGM Agenda (draft)

2021 AGM Agenda (draft)


Supporting Documents

Students with mobility limitations, get access to new, accessible computing

[vc_row][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]UBC graduate students can get access to a new service device that makes computers and laptops more user friendly for people with mobility limitations, allowing them to stay connected and maintain their independence.

netClé is designed to flexible for each user’s particular needs. The variety of connectable sensors, switches, and input devices which allow users to navigate a cursor with touch or movement from a single digit, limb – or even their head.

The project team are looking for individuals who are willing to use the netClé and provide feedback. The team have developed a method to install netClé remotely, which respects all social distancing requirements.

This is a free service that will be customised to the needs of the individual, so if you think it’s something that you could benefit from, contact the project team to get an assessment.[/vc_column_text][dt_fancy_separator][vc_column_text]The team list some simple criteria you’ll need to be eligible:

  • I use a computer and have a disability or physical condition that makes it challenging to do so using standard devices (mouse & keyboard)
  • I have a computer with a stable internet connection (Windows, Mac & Linux laptops or desktops are all acceptable), and:
  • a valid email address
  • audio (mic and speakers) and video (camera) capabilities
  • a friend, family member or caregiver who can provide assistance (if needed) to unbox the unit when it is delivered, connect the various components and position the input device(s) for your use.

If you’re interested in accessing the service, or just want more information, contact the netClé team here:

Additional Information

  • Students may require assistance to install device, depending on their mobility limitations.
  • The device collects no usage or personal data. Students will be contacted for feedback and may decline to answer questions. They will be able to keep the device either way.
  • The device has guaranteed technical support until the end of March, and may have more if funding is extended for the project.
  • If you do access the service, please let the project team know that  you heard about the service from the UBC GSS

If you have any problems getting access to the service, do contact the GSS advocacy team:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”24729″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Graduate Student Societies of BC call for more support for graduate education

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_row_inner css=”.vc_custom_1602611815690{margin-bottom: 20px !important;border-bottom-width: 20px !important;padding-top: 20px !important;}”][vc_column_inner][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Government policies must take into account key differences between undergraduate and graduate education” heading_tag=”h4″ alignment=”left” margin_design_tab_text=”” main_heading_margin=”margin-bottom:20px;”][/ultimate_heading][dt_fancy_separator][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner css=”.vc_custom_1602612115662{border-bottom-width: 20px !important;}”][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text][Vancouver, BC – October 13, 2020]

Media Release


[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text]Graduate Student Societies of British Columbia, representing over 18,000 graduate students from across the province, is today calling on all political parties in BC to commit to a program of improved and more consistent support for graduate students.

Despite the significant negative impacts that the pandemic has had on graduate programs and research in BC, graduate students have been left with little support by the province. Students are now calling on the political parties of BC to recognize that graduate students are distinct from undergraduates in key ways and require support that takes these differences into account. It is clear that the differing needs and supports important to graduate students have not been historically well-recognized by provincial education policymakers, and while this is an old problem, during the ongoing pandemic it has had the consequence of leaving large numbers of graduate students in a vulnerable financial position.

The Graduate Student Societies of British Columbia urge the parties vying to form the next government to adopt three policies that will help graduate students deliver innovative research that benefits the entire Province:


1) Expand the B.C. Graduate Scholarship and make it a permanently funded program.

The BCGS program, introduced by the BC government in 2018, has provided merit-based funding to hundreds of graduate students across the province, enabling them to continue their research programs with financial peace of mind. However, unless extended, the fund is set to expire in 2021. We would like to see the program become a permanent feature of the graduate education landscape and have it expanded to include students in non-STEM disciplines.


2) Widen the eligibility criteria of the BC Access Grant to include graduate students.

Given their extended years of education and the increasing cost of tuition, the burden of student debt on graduate students is significantly higher than undergraduates1. Despite this fact, there are no needs-based grants for graduate education in BC even though a program exists for undergraduates. Allowing graduate students to apply for funding under the newly created BC Access Grant would, as the name suggests, improve access to education for those struggling with financial barriers to graduate studies.


3) Recognize, and take into account through policymaking, the distinct needs of graduate students and the critical role they play in promoting the social and economic development in the province.

The educational context in graduate programs is vastly different from those found
in undergraduate programs. Political parties in BC need to recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach to supporting post-secondary education is not optimal, and that support for graduate programs needs to take into account the distinct characteristics of graduate students, from financing to motivation to demographics. In particular, graduate programs are research intensive, enroll a large proportion of international students (with top international talent recruited to BC from around the world), and have many participants with new families and young children. It is also important to apply these insights to a broader range of government policies in order to better serve graduate students during their period of study.


Here is what graduate student leaders across BC have to say about these proposed policy changes:

“Graduate students create vast society-wide benefits with their research often leading to the creation of new technologies, new businesses and new ways of understanding our society, and they pass that new knowledge on as teachers in many programs. Introducing these changes would demonstrate that the Province appreciates the value of the contributions graduate students make and would be an investment in BC’s knowledge economy.”Alireza Kamyabi, University of British Columbia Graduate Student Society

“These are reasonable and eminently achievable policy goals that will provide increased financial security and predictability to graduate students across the province without giving headaches to those drawing up government budgets in Victoria.

We’re often overlooked in conversations about post-secondary education, but graduate students give up years of employment income and other opportunities in order to develop their research skills and keep BC at the forefront of the new knowledge-based economy, often juggling full time study with family responsibilities. These changes would put them on a more secure financial footing and allow them to focus less on debt and bills, more on their research and teaching.” Matt McDonald, The Graduate Student Society at Simon Fraser University

“Graduate students contribute so much to their universities and to the development of their society, in general – We are teachers, researchers, our work is published and can achieve academic clout for their institutions to boost their popularity—We can discover new methods scientifically, politically, or otherwise that can contribute to how policy is formed and what technological advances are made… It is very important that Graduate Students’ vote for a leader who will recognize our uniqueness in contributions as well as needs.”Abby Dooks, Northern British Columbia Graduate Student Society

“Graduate students are much more likely to have families of their own relative to
undergraduate students. The need to support families is already a significant barrier to
graduate education and the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified this. Improving the
accessibility and affordability of childcare is one very easy and effective way to support
graduate students, however, the unique labour market situation of graduate students must also be a consideration in the on-going pandemic relief efforts.”Drake T. Rushford, University of Victoria Graduate Students’ Society

About Graduate Student Societies of British Columbia

Graduate Student Societies of British Columbia is composed of the University of British
Columbia Graduate Student Society, the Graduate Student Society at Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria Graduate Students’ Society and the Northern British Columbia Graduate Student Society, together representing over 18,000 students in BC. These four organizations are registered under the BC Societies Act and are tasked with providing services to, and advocating on behalf of, the graduate students attending their respective institutions.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

GSS AGM 2020

Calling ALL Graduate Students!

We invite you to the Graduate Student Society’s Annual General Meeting- 2020. All graduate students at UBC Vancouver are members of their Graduate Student Society. The Annual General Meeting, is your opportunity to make important collective decisions for the society and to hear about the Society’s work in 2019.

For the first time we will be hosting the meeting online via Zoom:

Thu, October 15, 2020

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM PDT

Presentations and discussions will be made on:

  • AGM Agenda
  • Financial Statement
  • AGM Minutes – March 2019
  • Appointment of Auditor

Graduate Students of UBC Vancouver: Your presence at the AGM is important. It allows us to secure  quorum and vote.



Supporting Documents

2020 AGM Agenda

 2019 FInancial Statements

2019 AGM Minutes