Any graduate student member of SOGS is eligible to join a committee. A major part of SOGS’ mandate is advocacy work, with a particular focus on collective advocacy to improve conditions for SOGS’ diverse membership. Our Committees are the grassroots foundation of SOGS’ advocacy work.

To express appreciation for the work of our committees, SOGS gives every SOGS committee member a $5.00 voucher for the Grad Club for every meeting attended. For various committees, committee members who volunteer at their committee events will have access to that events meal/refreshments.

A brief overview of the Committees is provided below; links are included for more detailed descriptions, if available. If you prefer to browse the detailed descriptions, they are available further down this page.

How do I join a Committee?

For any of the Committees below, please contact the chair to inquire after Committee membership. Requirements for participation may vary depending on the Committee. If a chair position is vacant or unresponsive, please contact the VP associated with that portfolio, or SOGS Executive:

What kind of work do our Committees do?

Depending on the committee, SOGS Committees run montly meetings (sometimes more, depending on their projects), organize and attend events, conduct research, engage in advocacy work, produce and update graduate-student related information, collaborate with other committees, and provide integral services to graduate students. They engage in a mixture of administrative, social, and advocacy work.

What is expected of me as a Committee member?

Since committees generally meet about once a month, you are expected to attend these meetings to the best of your ability. If you cannot attend, you are expected to assign a proxy and provide your regrets to the Committee Chair. In adddition to attending meetings, you are expected to help your committee organize and attend events, conduct research, communicate with other graduate students and advocate on behalf of them, and archive your work.

What if my schedule makes it difficult to participate?

All our Committees are made up of graduate students with busy schedules. Meeting times are decided by Doodle Polls, with morning and evening options included. Committees also allow for Skype/Phone so if you are unable to physically leave your lab (etc), you can call in to a meeting.

How does being on a Committee benefit me?

Beyond adding to your overall graduate student experience, Committee work enhances your initiative, and helps you gain useful time and project management and administrative skills. Employers want to see their potential employees take part in the community and demonstrate that they can manage multiple projects. Additionally, at the end of your service with SOGS, the President, VP, or Committee Chair can write you a letter outlining your involvement.

Overview of Committees

Portfolio of the President

The Policy Committee reviews existing SOGS policy and drafts new policy to fill requests or need. The committee’s current priority involves compiling an official policy manual for SOGS.
Contact: Mary Blake Bonn |
Chair: Gregory Nightingale |

Portfolio of the VP Academic

Academic Committee
Contact: Jina Kum |
Co-Chairs: Emily Carlisle and Joyla Furlano| and
Gradcast Editorial Board (GradCast)
Chair: Susan Anthony |
Graduate Student Teaching Awards Committee (GSTA)
Contact: Jina Kum|
Co-Chairs: Ibrahim Ibrahim and Ana-Bianca Popa  | and

Portfolio of the VP Advocacy

The Equity Committee (EC) deals with issues of human rights, discrimination, and accessibility.
Chair: Taniya Nagpal |
The Graduate Student Issues Committee (GSIC) is concerned with general advocacy, issues, and campaigns.
Contact: Vanessa Lilly |
Chair: Dmitrii Marin |
The Graduate Peer Support (GPS) Committee oversees a pilot project to host a weekly peer support group in the Wellness Education Centre focused on the graduate student experience.
Chair: Nickolas Goncharenko |
The Sustainability Committee (SC) communicates fundamental concepts in sustainability to students in a fun and stress-free setting.
Chair: Sabina Rakhimbekova |

Portfolio of the VP Finance

Bursaries and Subsidies Committee is responsible for the allocation of subsidies and bursaries to applicants.
Chair: Lauren Kaufman
Finance Committee  is responsible for creating the budget for SOGS. The committee accepts new members from the February to November council meetings.
Chair: Steven Janisse |
Grad Club Committee is responsible for overseeing the running of the Grad Club, including finances, renovations and events.
Chair: Matea Drljepan |

Portfolio of the VP Student Services

The Health Plan Committee (HPC) is a SOGS committee responsible for interviewing and hiring the SOGS Extended Health Plan provider.
Chair: vacant
The International Graduate Students’ Issues Committee (IGSIC) deals with concerns particular to international graduate students.
Chair: Nafiz Zaman Shuva |
The Orientation and Social Committee (OSC) is a SOGS committee devoted to organizing Fall Orientation and social events throughout the year.
Co-Chairs: Siobhan Smith and Jordan LeSarge | and

Reporting to the Speaker/CRO

Bylaws and Constitution Committee
Chair: Chantal Lemire|
Appeals Review Commission
Chair: Vacant
Ad-hoc Committee for Council Protocol review
Chair: Speaker|

Committee Details

Equity Committee

The Equity Committee deals with issues of human rights, discrimination and accessibility. This committee is dedicated to assuring that all graduate students at Western have an equal opportunity to successfully complete their graduate education while having an excellent student experience. We aim to support students beyond their academic requirements to assure that their overall well-being is put first. We strive to create an equitable campus environment for everyone. We encourage and welcome input from the society on the steps and initiatives this committee should take to address the needs of our students.

Current Events and Initiatives (2017-2018)

June 2017: The creation of the SOGS Non-TA Food Bank Program.

July 2017: Call for Graduate Students over 50 for the “Not All the Same” Initiative.

 August 2017: The Equity Committee, in partnership with IGSIC, ran its third annual Household Items Donation Drive for International graduate students. Thank you to the Graduate Nursing Department, winner of the $200 Prize!

Past Initiatives and Events (Aug 2015 – Dec 2015, 2016)

  • In 2016, the Equity Committee began work on its Not All the Same Campaign.
  • Graduate Students Community Resource Fair

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Graduate Peer Support (GPS)

The Graduate Peer Support (GPS) Committee is focused on supporting graduate student wellness through providing community space, events, and funding opportunities. The mission of the GPS committee is to provide resources and opportunities to support the social, emotional and financial well-being of graduate students at Western University.

GPS is currently working on its upcoming Fall Events. For a complete history of GPS, see Graduate Peer Support.

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Graduate Student Issues Committee (GSIC)

The GSIC monitors, assesses, and responds to issues pertaining to the quality and accessibility of graduate education, and they work to keep graduate students informed of these issues. This committee traditionally selects non-executive members of the Society to be dispatched as delegates to general meetings of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), and otherwise attends to political advocacy on behalf of the society.


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Graduate Student Teaching Awards (GSTA)

The GSTA committee is responsible for gathering and evaluating nominations from Western’s undergraduate students, faculty, and staff, for recognizing Graduate Teaching Assistants who provide extraordinary teaching experience for Western undergraduate students.

The committee chair(s) is(are) responsible for:

1. Working closely with SOGS VP Academic to ensure committee responsibilities and deadlines are met.
2. Compiling nominations from all semesters of the academic year for committee members to review.

Committee members’ tasks include:

1. Providing general feedback to the chair(s) and attending committee meetings.
2. Evaluate compiled nominations during the month of May using a rubric.

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Health Plan Committee (HPC)

The Health Plan Committee (HPC) is a SOGS committee responsible for interviewing and hiring the SOGS Extended Health Plan provider. During non-contract years, the HPC sometimes chooses to facilitate a Health Plan survey to solicit feedback on the current provider. Depending on the committee, the HPC also seeks to explore mental health issues as experienced by graduate students.

For general information regarding your Extended Health Care, please contact the SOGS Office or the VP Student Services. For detailed information regarding your Extended Health Plan, please visit our Health and Dental coverage, or call 1-886-358-4435.

Get Involved

If you would like to be a member of the HPC, or if you would like to suggest a health-related issue for the committee to explore, please contact the HPC Co-Chairs.

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International Graduate Student Issues Committee (IGSIC)

Learning to navigate Western as an international graduate student? IGSIC has you covered with their International Graduate Students: Guide to Western University.

The International Graduate Student Issues Committee (IGSIC) is a SOGS committee which explores and addresses the concerns of incoming and returning international graduate students. IGSIC also organizes a number of social functions throughout the year in order to foster a strong community between international students. International students are also more than welcome to take part in the Orientation and Social Committee (OSC) events.

Example Projects

IGSIC has invited Elizabeth Long, a Canadian Immigration Lawyer from Toronto, to Western University for the last few years to give an Immigration Seminar to international graduate students. The below video is from 2015-2016. This year’s video will be made available by the end of October 2017. The slides from this year’s presentation can be found here: Elizabeth Long Presentation – Oct 2017.

Other projects:

  • The executive summary from the IGSIC International Graduate Student Survey completed in 2013 is available online [PDF].
  • In 2016-17, Michael King, SOGS Accountant, ran a general Tax Info session for graduate students. His newsletter can be found here. IGSIC hopes to work with the IESC to run a specific Tax info session for international graduate students next year.
  • This year, IGSIC has launched a petition in support of INTL students and will also be releasing an INTL Student Satisfaction Survey.

Get Involved

If you are interested in getting involved with the committee, or wish to put forward suggestions for pursuing issues concerning international graduate students or potential events, please contact the IGSIC Chair or the VP Student Services. We also strongly encourage SOGS International Graduate Students to join the committee’s Facebook group: for up-to-date information.

All tickets for events associated with IGSIC will usually be sold, unless otherwise stated, at the SOGS Office (UCC 260). In order to purchase tickets for IGSIC events, you must be an international graduate student. Family members are welcome. When IGSIC and the OSC partner on certain events, these events are then open to all graduate students.


IGSIC formally takes part in the Orientation and Social Committee (OSC)’s Fall Orientation. It hosts the IGSIC Meet and Greet on the first day of SOGS’ Orientation. Current international graduate students from various countries volunteer to meet with incoming international graduate students from their same countries. New international students are able to meet new people and gain advice from current students.

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Orientation and Social Committee (OSC)

The Orientation and Social Committee (OSC) is a SOGS committee devoted to organizing Fall Orientation and social events throughout the year, which include: our monthly Board Game Night (third Wednesday), Oktoberfest, London Knights (OHL hockey) outing, Ugly Sweater (Holiday) Party, Skiing, Wonderland and Grand Bend trips, and Karaoke nights. The OSC is also devoted to supporting The Grad Club by hosting the majority of its events there.

Get Involved

Orientation: Each year, the OSC/SOGS participates in the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS)’s Orientation for new students. The OSC also organizes Fall Orientation (usually in the third week of September) for incoming and returning students (the majority of which takes place at The Grad Club). Fall Orientation usually includes an Amazing Race: SOGS Edition, Board Game Night, New Student Party, the distribution of the Canadian Federation of Students ISIC Cards (International Student Identity Cards). All events include food, games, and prizes!

Social Events: Volunteer to staff at one of our social events and receive the benefits of those in attendance (food, entrance fee, etc) and meet graduate students from across campus.

For more information, please contact the OSC Co-Chairs or the VP Student Services. We also strongly encourage SOGS students to subscribe to our Facebook Events:

All tickets for events associated with the OSC will usually be sold, unless otherwise stated, at the SOGS Office (UCC 260).

↑ Return to Overview of Committees