September 2016: Newsletter


SOGS Update, the official monthly electronic newsletter from SOGS, keeps you up to date on issues and events affecting graduate students at The University of Western Ontario. If you are looking for previous issues of SOGS Update please contact the office.

For updates on events, issues and discussion relevant to graduate students and Western between editions of the newsletter, consider the following:

Do you have an International Student Identification Card (ISIC)? If not, our office is now equipped to distribute ISICs upon request, and the printing process only takes a few minutes. To request your free ISIC, bring your lovely self and your student card to UCC 260 during regular office hours.

Do you have a news item or announcement you would like to have included in the next SOGS Update? Email for more information.

In this month’s Update

Scholarships, bursaries, & financial


In the headlines

Get involved

Grad Life at Western

At the Grad Club

Monthly giveaways: Photo contest & trivia


Scholarships, bursaries, & financial


Health Plan Opt-Out & Opt-In deadline

Health Plan Opt-Out Deadline 2016

Click to enlarge

Health Plan Opt-Out & Opt-IN deadline is September 30. Forms along with full payment must be received by the deadline to the SOGS office (Cash, Cheque or E-transfers to

More information about the health and dental plan can be found on the our Health and Dental Coverage page, and through the StudentCare website.


SOGS Bursaries

The deadline for applications to the Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Fund (OSOTF) Bursary and the Out of Province/Country (OOP) Bursary is September 30. Applications must be completed through the Graduate Student Web Services Portal.


SOGS Travel & Child Care Subsidies

Travel & ChildCare subsidies deadline for the current Fall 2016 term is Thursday, December 22. Applications are available in the SOGS office and online:


GSTA nominations for summer 2016 now open

The nomination forms are a way to nominate your TA for having a positive impact on your education. You may choose to recognize them because they did something memorable in the classroom or lab, or maybe they took extra time to explain a concept for you, or they were a generally amazing TA. The nomination form takes only a few minutes to fill out, and you can choose to keep your responses anonymous.

Are you a professor, lecturer, or TA? Please help us spread word of this program by informing undergraduate students that they can nominate their summer TAs.

The nomination process is completed using this online form. Nominations for the summer 2016 will be open until September 30.


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For a full a detailed list of our events, see the SOGS Orientation website or join the Orientation Facebook Event page:

Questions about any of these events? Please contact!


International student Meet and Greet

Sponsored by the International & Exchange Student Centre (IESC) and PSAC 610


The International Graduate Student Issues Committee (IGSIC) is hosting a Meet & Greet on Tuesday, September 13 from 3:00pm – 6:00pm @ the Grad Club.

The event is FREE to all NEW international graduate students. New students can register for the event online. New students will be paired up with current international graduate students from their home countries.

Returning international graduate students may attend as a volunteer. If you’re interested, please sign up online.

All volunteers receive a meal as a thank you from SOGS/IGSIC.


Monthly board game night


ALL students are welcome to our FREE monthly Board Game Night on Wednesday, September 14 at 7:00pm at the Grad Club. Usually our board game night occurs on the third Wednesday of each month; the timing was shifted this month to align with orientation.

Games, appetizers, raffle prizes, and discounted beer*!

*Bud Light, Goose Island IPA, Shop Top – $3.50/bottle


Amazing race: SOGS edition

amazingraceOn Thursday, September 15, from 2:00pm-4:00pm, explore campus Amazing Race style for your chance to win. REGISTER your team of four (or as an individual) to compete for $200, $150, $100 in Grad Club certificates. Race across campus and show off your knowledge of Western services!

All winners will receive FREE entrance to Bonfire Night on September 16.

ALL participants receive a $5 Grad Club certificate.


New student party

partyOn Thursday, September 15, starting at 6:30pm, join other incoming students in the Grad Club for the New Student Party.

This event is open to NEW graduate students. Your dinner includes a buffet chicken/vegetarian pasta, salad, fries, and beverage. There will be ice breaker games and raffle prizes (Loblaws gift cards, Shoppers gift cards, campus bookstore gift cards, etc.). Come out and make lasting memories of graduate school!

Tickets are $10 and available in the SOGS Office (UCC 260).


Bonfire night

bonfireWe’re having a bonfire night out on the Grad Club patio September 16, starting at 7:30pm.

Tickets are available for $5 from the SOGS Office (UCC 260). That ticket entitles you to: a hot dog, corn on the cob, all-you-can eat popcorn and s’mores, a screening of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and the chance to win Cineplex movie passes, Indigo gift cards, and Davids tea gift packs.


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In the headlines


Report from the Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario Annual General Meeting


Click to open presentation

The Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario (CFS-O) hosted their Annual General Meeting August 18-21. One of the core benefits of attending these meetings is the amount of information that can be shared between different university student associations.

Quite a few matters of potential interest were brought to our attention at the annual general meeting; in particular, there are some fantastic petitions and rallies open to your participation. A brief overview is provided here, or you can click on the image above for a pretty presentation version, full of clickable links.


Urban Worker Project & Fairness for Contract Workers petition

urbanworker_logoThe Urban Worker Project is a new initiative to give a stronger voice to the growing numbers of independent workers across the country. Their Fairness for Contract workers petition calls on government to broaden who is covered under employment standards legislation so that solo self-employed, freelance and contract workers can access better pay, benefits and protections.


$15 and Fairness rally

f15black@2x-120x120Since early 2015, the Ministry of Labour has been reviewing our employment and labour laws. And right now, our MPPs are deciding how far they are willing to go to make the legislative changes we need to improve our wages and working conditions. By coming together on October 1 in our thousands, we can help make sure our MPPs have the confidence to stand up to big business and put people before profits.


OHIP for All campaign and open letter

OHIPFA-Banner_1060-x-342_Launch-1The OHIP for All campaign launched this past summer. Their open letter asks the Government of Ontario to end the OHIP three month waiting period for new immigrants, temporary foreign workers, migrants newly approved for Permanent Residency, and returning Canadians; to provide OHIP coverage to those left uninsured with temporary status, including temporary foreign workers between contracts and international students; to provide coverage to those left uninsured while inland immigration sponsorship, humanitarian, and compassionate status applications are pending. Lastly, to provide OHIP coverage to those left uninsured due to being non-status while residing in Ontario.


Petition 4-11 (Islam)

mps-parliamentThis petition, set to be delivered to the Canadian parliament, asserts the following:

We, the undersigned, Citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to join us in recognizing that extremist individuals do not represent the religion of Islam, and in condemning all forms of Islamophobia.

This petition is open for signatures through October 6.


Not in the Syllabus report

The Not in the Syllabus survey was circulated for 18 months and just over 2,000 responses were received from graduate students from all universities in Ontario possessing graduate programs. The SOGS VP Advocacy has a print copy of the draft report for any who are interested, and the final report will be available online once it is completed. In the meanwhile, a fact sheet summarizing some responses from Western graduate students is available online or in the SOGS Office (UCC 260).


Fight the Fees campaign and Day of Action

On November 2, students across the country are hitting the streets to bring attention to the economic hardships and barriers that are prevalent in academia. This campaign wants to draw attention to issues such as access for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit learners; as well as fairness for international students.

What do you want this Day of Action to look like on our campus? Do you even want SOGS to participate; why or why not? What are your concerns around fees and access? Do you want to be involved organizing events and informational pieces? To respond to any of these questions, or to ask questions of your own, please contact


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Get involved


Petition: Stop charging interest on OSAP loans

PetitionImageEarlier this year, a petition was submitted to the government of Ontario requesting that OSAP loans be forgiven or, at least, that interest be eliminated on these loans. Since this petition was initially completed online, the petition was not accepted. The petition has since been pushed in print, with only the following request:

Stop collecting interest on the Ontario portion of all OSAP student loans and to stop treating students and recent graduates as a stream of revenue, rather, work on helping students and recent graduates become successful contributing members of society

You may have graduated with student debt from a previous degree, or you may know friends and family who are struggling to make their interest payments. You’re likely familiar with the many difficulties student debt can cause; in particular, the interest on student debt means that poor students pay more for their education than their more affluent counterparts who can pay upfront.

We will be collecting signatures in the SOGS Office (UCC 260) through September 12 in order to give us enough time to deliver them to the petition organizer in time for their deadline. You can come to our office to sign, or print off a copy of the signature sheet to share in your department/faculty and submit to the SOGS Office by September 12.


Would you like to be trained as a peer support facilitator?

The Graduate Peer Support (GPS) Committee is doing a final call for volunteers to be trained as peer support facilitators this month and to support the continuation of the weekly Graduate Peer Support program. Although this training is being custom developed for the graduate support community, this training experience has a high potential of transferable applicability, particularly for those of you interested in careers with a focus on managing and supporting people (such as education, social work, and therapy).

Volunteers will be expected to:

  • Attend a day of training; training will occur on Sept 22 & 23. Each volunteer is expected to attend for one of the available training days. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.
    If you’re interested but have a scheduling conflict for training, please let us know ASAP so that we can work to develop an alternative training option if able/necessary.
  • Attend and facilitate GPS events; events occur weekly, and a schedule will be maintained in cooperation with volunteers to ensure each week is covered.

If you’re interested in volunteering, please get in touch wtih the VP Advocacy ( as soon as possible, as we’re eager to confirm numbers and dietary restrictions for our training days. Questions about the program are also welcome at

If you’re interested to get an impression of what peer support can look like and provide at Western, consider this page describing the development of peer support programming at the undergrad level.


London’s Community Forum on Racism

Community Forum on Racism - Poster 2016 - FINAL-page-001

Click to view full size PDF

Date: Saturday, September 17, 2016

Time: 7:00am – 12:30pm

Place: South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre, Gymnasium
1119 Jalna Boulevard, London, Ontario N6E 3B3

Join your fellow Londoner’s for a half-day forum and community conversation exploring the effects of racism in our city. This event will include a panel discussion as well as an opportunity for facilitated conversations on how we can all identify racism, interrupt it, and create actions for a more inclusive city.

All are welcome, and we specifically encourage participation from residents, businesses, and public organizations. Please let us know when you register, if you are in need of any special accomodations. Child Minding is also availble, please email the organizers if you would like to make use of this service.

7:00 a.m. – Indigenous Sunrise Ceremony (all are welcome)
8:30 a.m. – Continental breakfast and registration
9:00 a.m. – Formal program begins
12:30 p.m. – Wrap up

Please register online at:


Nominations open for VP Advocacy and VP Student Services

Do you feel strongly about supporting graduate students in their time at Western? Do you get a thrill out of managing multiple projects and events? Are you invested in the programs and supports available to grads, and determined to make them the best they can be? Are you a social media maven, or a whiz at website design?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then consider nominating yourself for the role of VP Advocacy or VP Student Services. Nominations and questions are to be sent to Nominations must be received by Sept 20; the election will take place at SOGS Council on  Sept 29, and the winning candidate takes office Oct 1.

For more information on either of these roles, please stop by our Office (UCC 260), email the Speaker (, or consult our Bylaws (2.1.3 for VP Advocacy; 2.1.5 for VP Student Services)


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Grad Life at Western


Welcome to incoming students

Welcome to all our incoming graduate students. We’ve seen many at you at departmental orientations, and hope to see you out at the orientation activities that are planned through next week, or at the SGPS orientation tomorrow.

We know there’s a lot to discover as you settle into graduate studies, which is why we’ve developed an Orientation page to highlight some of the key pieces of information we think you may need. We also hope you’ll become acquainted with our Health and Dental Plan and Financial Supports, because we want you to take full advantage of the services available to you as SOGS members. We hope you’ll come to think of the Grad Club – a restaurant/bar operated by SOGS to provide healthy, affordable food as well as graduate-focused space on campus – as a welcoming place where you can host events; join in for trivia or games night; or just kick back and listen to Rick McGhie.

In recent years, we’ve developed quite a few guides to support students navigating campus and the wider London community:

  • Our Graduate Student Orientation Handbook is available in print at the Orientation on Sept 8, 2016; after that, remaining handbooks will be made available in our Office (UCC 260) as supplies last. It is also available online.
  • For a detailed account of supports and services on campus and in the London area, please consult the Equity Resource List.
  • Are you an international student? The International Graduate Students: Guide to Western University created by our International and Graduate Student Issues Committee can help you settle in at Western.

Most importantly, we hope you’ll stop by the SOGS Office (UCC 260) to get acquainted with our excellent staff or ask any questions you have about SOGS and its various programs. You can also contact our Office Manager with inquiries via email ( or with the SOGS Executive ( if you prefer.


International Student Identity Card (ISIC) distribution

isicardsThe International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is the only internationally recognized proof of full-time student status, and is a student discount card in 70 countries, including Canada. ISIC cardholders get access to thousands of discounts in Canada and over 40,000 discounts worldwide, including with ViaRail and Porter Airlines.

The card is FREE to all SOGS members through our association with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).

Representatives from CFS will be on campus September 8. From 9am-1pm, they’ll be at a booth in the SGPS orientation at Alumnia Hall. From 1pm-4pm, they’ll be on the stage at the Grad Club.

Not available Sept 8? No worries! Our office is equipped to distribute ISICs upon request, and the printing process only takes a few minutes. To request your free ISIC, bring your lovely self and your student card to UCC 260 during regular office hours. If at all possible, please delay ISIC requests in office until October. Things are pretty busy over September as our staff manage bus pass distribution, health plan administration, and the slew of questions from incoming students. We want our staff to be able to prioritize these time sensitive tasks, so if you can hold off coming to our office for ISICs, it would be greatly appreciated.


Mysterious Barricades: a cross-Canada concert for suicide awareness, prevention, and hope

Click to view PDF

Click to view PDF

From sunrise to sunset on September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, there will be 13 concerts playing coast to coast.

The London concert will take place at Western’s von Kuster Recital Hall on September 10 from 2:30pm – 4:00 pm. Admission is free; tickets are available online to reserve a seat.

All concerts will be livestreamed throughout the day at

For more information on this concert series, please visit For more information on World Suicide Prevention Day, please visit,


Accessibility/disability Meet and Greet

Accessibility Meet & GreetDate: Friday, September 16, 2016

Time: 4pm – 5:30pm

Place: Wellness Education Centre (UCC 76; by the Bookstore and Grocery store in the UCC basement)

Speakers from Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) and the Society of Graduate Students (SOGS) will talk about services and facilities available at Western for graduate students with disabilities. A discussion will follow, during which attendees will be invited to ask any questions and voice any issues or concerns they have pertaining to accessibility at Western.

Refreshments will be provided.


Upcoming Columbia discount for graduate students

Columbia would like to invite you to shop our Employee Store! This invite is valid for store entry starting September 19 – October 23.

Details on our store and your invite are listed below:


  • Employee store pricing!  Most products are a minimum of 40% off MSRP.  (Some exceptions may apply)
  • Includes all brands in the Columbia Sportswear family of brands: Columbia Sportswear, SOREL, Mountain Hardwear and prAna.
  • 14,000 sq. feet of each brand’s newest and most popular styles.



Columbia Sportswear Employee Store
1425 Max Brose Dr.
London Ontario, N6N 0A2
Hours: M-F: 10-7pm / Sat: 10-6pm / Sun: 11-5pm.


Graduate Peer Support returns October 5

GPS-LogoDraft-1Graduate Peer Support (GPS) will return on October 5 with a revamped weekly schedule. Every Wednesday starting October 5, join us on Wednesdays from 10:30am – 12:30pm for our weekly programming:

1st Wednesday of the month — Idle Hands : Keep your hands busy while you’re chatting with puzzles, playdough, and games.
2nd Wednesday of the month — Themed Discussion : Open floor discussion dedicated to a specific aspect of grad life.
3rd Wednesday of the month — Knit and Knatter : Craft kits will be made available, or bring in your own projects. Kids welcome!
4th Wednesday of the month — Study Break : A quiet space to read, write, draw, plan, sketch, or even nap.
5th Wednesday of the month — Special Mystery Event : Each time a month has five Wednesdays ,the 5th week will feature unique scheduling (poetry slam, uke jam, singing bowls…) Suggestions welcome.


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At the Grad ClubGradClub

Dinner & Movie
Purchase one of our dinner special and you can purchase a Western Film movie for $3.50. Voucher is good for any movie.


Trivia Tuesday: 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Come early to get a good seat

Every Thursday: Mill St presents Rick McGhie – 8:00 PM start

Every third Wednesday: The OSC is hosting Boardgame night starting at 6:00PM. You can purchase a bottle of Bud Light, Shock Top or Goose Island IPA for $3.50.

Winter Hours of Operation

Monday to Friday – 8:00 AM to 12:00 AM (midnight)
Saturday – closed
Sunday – closed.

The Grad Club will open on weekends for events or conferences
Call 519-661-2111 ext 86386 or e-mail to set up your event.

Free parking after 7:30 PM.

Get Your VanHoutte Coffee Card

Buy ten coffees and get one free.

Lunch Specials

Tuesday – 11:30am – 1:30PM
Pad Thai or Buffalo Chicken Wrap – vegetarian options available

Wednesday – 11:30am – 1:30PM – $10.25 one trip
Indian Buffet (South Asian Cuisine)

Thursday – 11:30am – 1:30pm – $8.50
Create your own Pasta; gluten free pasta available

Friday – 11:30AM – 1:30PM
Themed buffet

You can find all of our lunch and dinner specials on the Grad Club website

Book the Goblet

To reserve The Goblet of Knowledge for your upcoming defense party, call Marc 519-661-2111 ext 86386.


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Monthly giveaways

Winners can pick up their Grad Club certificates in the SOGS office during regular office hours, and their names will be posted in next month’s newsletter.

PalletTablePhoto contest

Congratulations to Lindsay Debono, winner of our August photo contest with this photo of pallets rescued from campus to be turned into this neat table. August’s theme was DIY. September’s theme is, somewhat predictably, back to school. New notebooks? Orientation events? Leaves changing? Eateries on campus opening up, lineups, or crowded buses?

Send a photo into; the winner will be randomly selected, and their photo will be featured in next month’s Update newsletter and notification email.


Each month, SOGS hosts a trivia contest featuring information from our newsletter or our website. Correct answers are entered into a draw and four students will win a certificate to the Grad Club! Please email your response to by September 30.

September Question:

What is the deadline for health plan opt-in/out and bursary applications?

August Winners:

Congratulations to our Month winners:

  • Chelsea Vaters
  • Lola Wong
  • Christina Chung
  • Tara Condos


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