The GSS Office is open. For COVID-19 pandemic updates and support information for UBC graduate students, click here

Job: External Policy Assistant

Appointment Status: Part-time position
Start Date: May 1, 2022
Number of Positions: 1
Hours per Week: 10-20 hours/week, 300 hours in total.
Wage: $27.22 per hour
Employee Group: Non-Union
Application Deadline: March 28, 2022

Note: Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. We encourage qualified candidates to apply early.

SUMMARY

The student will work closely with the Vice-President External and the GSS Executives to develop policy reports and recommendations to be presented to local, provincial, and federal government officials as well as external organizations as they relate to GSS advocacy campaigns. The ideal candidate would have a passion for data-driven advocacy to benefit graduate students, excellent communication skills and a willingness to learn about laws and policies governing research and innovation as well as graduate student life and funding.

How to apply:

Please submit a cover letter and resume (PDF) that details experience and training specifically relevant to the requirements of the position.

We thank all candidates in advance for their interest in the position. However, only those selected for interviews will be contacted. No phone calls or follow-up emails, please.

External Policy Assistant – Summer 2022 Detailed Job Description:

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

· Research and develop policy reports and recommendations related to ongoing GSS campaigns and advocacy efforts at the university and government level

· Meet with various stakeholders including student societies, NGOs, university administration and governmental organizations

· Conduct research across the higher education sector to identify policy issues and best practices to recommend application to the GSS

· Assist the VP External with managing advocacy campaigns, engaging stakeholders, and setting up meetings

· Provide research support to the GSS executives, including assistance with the preparation of communications materials, speaking notes, and policy papers

· Help manage relationships with internal and external stakeholder contacts, including keeping track of collaborative projects with various organizations engaged with the GSS

· Other duties as required

TRAINING AND ORIENTATION

· The student will receive an orientation introducing them to the GSS from the General Manager covering areas including the general structure and function of the Society as well as housekeeping rules such as security, health, and safety guidelines (including those implemented for COVID-19)

· The Communications and Marketing Director will introduce the communication channels of the Society with various stakeholders.

· The VP External will provide an overview of stakeholder organizations and the related current policy and advocacy campaigns being worked on by the Society

· The VP Academic & University Affairs will provide an overview of the advocacy campaigns and policy issues within the university

NETWORKING AND MENTORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

· Meeting with federal and provincial legislators, MPs, and MLAs to advocate for graduate students.

· Working closely with GSS and AMS executives as well as student representatives from other post-secondary institutions across British Columbia and Canada to lobby for student interests.

· Attending general meetings with student alliance organizations such as Alliance of BC Students, ThinkGrad and Canadian Association for Graduate Studies to coordinate advocacy efforts.

· Opportunities to join the VP External in lobbying trips at the provincial and federal levels.

SUPPORT AND EVALUATION

· Ongoing supervision is provided by the VP External.

· The student will have bi-weekly check-in meetings with Communications and Marketing Director who will provide guidance and advice for professional development of the student.

· The student will work collaboratively and closely with the VP External in a team effort to advocate for graduate student interests.

· At the end of the period and after the completion of the individual projects, there will be a general debrief about the role. This is an opportunity for discussion, suggestions for improvements and recognition of success.

WORKPLACE SKILLS AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

For students interested in working in public policy, advocacy, government, NGOs and grassroots organizations, or interested in pursuing a career in law, legislation or public office, this experience will be invaluable. This work provides real-world opportunity and practical experience, touching on all aspects of legislation and public policy from research and policy development to lobbying and meeting with various stakeholders and public officials.

By the end of the work term, the External Policy Assistant will have gained:

· Experience in research and development of policy reports and recommendations

· Practical knowledge in data-driven advocacy

· Experience in communication of policy ideas to university administration and public officials

· Experience running an advocacy campaign

· A good understanding of government relations, especially pertaining to the advanced education sector

· Deeper understanding of higher education policy and challenges surrounding it

· Skills to communicate succinctly and effectively

· Confidence in leadership skills by taking the initiative on developing policy ideas

· Effective time management and prioritization skills by managing submission deadlines, meetings, and policy research work

· The opportunity to develop items for their academic portfolio (e.g., policy reports)

GENERAL QUALIFICATIONS

· A passion for research and data-driven advocacy

· Strong willingness to learn about laws and policies surrounding graduate student research and academic development

· Experience in analytical report writing and policy research

· Knowledge of, or interest in, higher education policy / public policy

· Excellent team player and self-motivated learner

· Strong time management and project coordination skills

· Strong written and verbal communication skills

· Excellent attention to detail

· Experience working with Microsoft Office

· Preference will be given to UBC Graduate students

ABOUT THE GSS

The GSS (Graduate Student Society) serves the 10,000 graduate students at UBC Vancouver, helping them have the best experience possible during their studies. We connect graduate students with campus resources, opportunities, and social events. We provide everything from individual support for students, to advocacy at provincial and federal levels on the most important issues graduate students face. The GSS is located at Thea Koerner House, which has been the centre of graduate student life on campus since it was opened in 1962.

Ensuring an inclusive and diverse workplace is a key value of the GSS. We welcome people of diverse backgrounds, abilities, and perspectives, and are proud to promote a supportive work environment.

How can we THRIVE in the time of Covid?

A normal research day for Theresa Pauly might involve visits to study participants across the lower mainland. Working in the Health and Adult Development Lab, which focuses on the links between social relationships and health, personal contact is an extremely important part of research.

“We work a lot with older adults, particularly couples, so we still advertise via newspaper or posters at community centres and do study visits in person. It’s great to meet with participants for a few hours. Even if most of the study protocol requires completing electronic surveys, face to face interactions provide a lot of insight into participants’ thinking.”

But the arrival of COVID19, and with it social distancing, has changed the normal research routine.

However, the change in circumstances has also offered a unique new opportunity to study social interactions and health, and so the THRIVE study was born. Tracking Health and Relationships in Varying Everyday contexts is led by Professor Christiane Hoppmann and aims to understand people’s thoughts, behaviours and feelings during the social distancing required by Covid.

Anyone over the age of 18 and living in Canada can participate. “If you sign up, we’ll ask you to complete a 45 to 90-minute online questionnaire about your background, personality, social relationships, attitudes, and wellbeing. Then, for ten days, we will ask you to complete two 5 to 10-minute questionnaires per day: one in the morning and one in the evening about your thoughts and how you are feeling, your everyday activities and social interactions.

“The results of our study will help us understand how people can maintain their wellbeing and social connectedness in times of social distancing. We expressly chose THRIVE as a title for the study because we want to convey the message that there are positive opportunities to develop new methods of social interaction even at this difficult time.”

There is certainly plenty of evidence that healthy social relationships are extremely important to good health.

We know humans are social beings, we have a need to belong and that poor social relationships are poor for our health. Studies show that poor social relationships have a similar negative effect on health to smoking or alcohol consumption

COVID has created a unique context to help us understand how to manage isolation, what can help us make the best of the situation.  Gratitude for the positive changes we can see like a view of the mountains untouched by pollution, more focus on creativity, new ways to connect with friends and family. While we all hope that the changes required by COVID will be short lived the resources that we find useful can be applied to help people that struggle with isolation.”

As someone who understands and researches the links between social interactions and health what advice does Theresa have for adapting to life in isolation?

“I enjoy alone time so the initial change wasn’t too bad. The most helpful thing I’ve found is to have a regular schedule. I still build my day as I did before COVID with scheduled work and leisure time and a daily walk for half an hour at lunchtime. I also try hard to set up social interactions each day, even if it is just a quick phone call. One thing I have tried with other grad students which works well is to have everyone in a Zoom meeting but to work independently. It gives you the feeling of working in a team and you can check in when you need to. I also can’t be watching Netflix all day because somebody knows!”

Thankfully despite the disruption to her work Theresa has been prevented from graduating on time: “In June I’ll be defending my thesis. I’ve heard stories from friends in Europe of thesis defences being delayed indefinitely, so I’m really grateful that UBC have been so organised. I just hope that there will enough normality to allow me to hit the ground running on my postdoc in Switzerland this September.”


More information about the study

https://blogs.ubc.ca/thrivestudy/

Sign up for the study:

https://ubc.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6RwFu3ocxjDML1r

 

Immediate GSS Services and Events Changes

In light of the announcement that UBC classes will be moving online as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak the GSS has made the following decisions.

• All upcoming events, classes, and room bookings have been cancelled until further notice. This includes the Annual General Meeting on Thursday.

• Full refunds will be provided when applicable.

• The GSS offices in Thea Koerner House will be closed, but the Society will continue to work. GSS Executives and staff will be working remotely and can be contacted by email.

• Advocacy / Peer Support services will continue to operate normally, with student appointments being conducted online to minimize risk. If you wish to access our Peer Support Services, email 

We encourage all students to keep up to date with UBC’s latest guidance on the issue: https://www.ubc.ca/campus-notifications/, and to minimize their risks by following the Province’s public health guidance.

The GSS is working closely with the Faculty of Graduate Studies to minimize the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak may have on Graduate Students. Please continue to follow the instructions given by UBC, and contact our Peer Support Services if you have concerns about being unfairly disadvantaged by the outbreak.

If you have concerns regarding your appointment as a Teaching Assistant, you should direct those to the TA Union, CUPE 2278, and contact either  or 

GSS endorses BCFS’s ‘Knock Out Interest on Student Loans!’ Campaign

Sara Hosseinirad VP External

The GSS is excited to announce our endorsement of the current ‘Knock Out Interest on Student Loans!’ campaign being running by the British Columbia Federation of Students (BCFS). We’re formally joining the list of organizations that have publicly declared their support for this campaign, including SFSS and UBC AMS.

First off, what is this campaign? And who is BCFS?

BCFS is a provincial advocacy alliance of universities and colleges from across B.C. They work to provide post-secondary student with a unified voice to influence access to education, operating at both provincial and federal levels. They’ve had some major victories in their campaigns, including their work to eliminate interest on B.C. student loans (which was successfully passed last year). Now they’re taking on eliminating interest on federal student loans in their ‘Knock Out Interest on Student Loans!’ campaign.

For the average Canadian student graduating from an undergraduate degree, they’re typically looking at $5,000 in interest on top of their federal loans. Interest on federal student loans has been shown to unfairly penalize low and middle-income students, making this a system that unfairly punishes those who can’t pay up front. Eliminating interest on these federal loans will help graduates focus less on debt and more on their career and lives. The GSS believes in accessible and affordable education, and we hope to see this campaign succeed.

So, what does our endorsement mean for GSS members?

Domestic graduate students often come to UBC with student loan debt from their undergrad. Despite the fact interest rates stall when individuals re-enter school, when these students finally finish graduate education they’re left with this accumulating expense from their undergrad. This is an additional burden and barrier to students looking to start their lives post-grad.

GSS VP External Relations, Sara Hosseinirad, says: “As always, we at the GSS will continue working and advocating for affordable education. Since this campaign is run by BCFS, they will be taking the lead on the advocacy and campaign work. The GSS will be supporting them by hosting local activities to raise awareness and support for ‘Knock Out Interest on Student Loans!’. If you want to have your own voice heard on this issue, any grad student can also sign the open  letter individually.”

OPEN LETTER

Knockout Interest

Open Letter on the Changes to the MSP for International Students

This has been an advocacy priority for my Office over the last few months. The change to the MSP, which eliminates fees for Permanent Residents and Citizens came into force at the start of this year, but the same changes increased the fee for international students to $75 per month. This is a significant additional financial burden for international students, particularly for those with dependents.

The GSS were also extremely concerned about the decision to increase health care coverage fees for international students, without meaningful consultation with student associations, advocacy groups, or international students themselves.

We’ve been working with ABCS and student groups across the Province to create the open letter and to make these concerns clear to Provincial Government. We hope that the Province take notice of the strength of feeling, but even if this does not lead to immediate change, we will continue to fight for a policy that is fair to international students.

We’re delighted to join more than 180,000 students from 10 student associations across the province as signatories of an open letter to The Honourable Adrian Dix, Minister of Health regarding increased MSP fees impacting international students.

You can read the full letter here: bcstudents.ca/news   but the key recommendation is that the BC Government: “commit to fairness on our campuses and either revert the changes made to international student contributions to the Medical Services Plan, or eliminate international student contributions to the Medical Services Plan altogether”. We’re very grateful to the Alliance of BC Students for coordinating the response. 

 

 

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