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. Any graduate student member of SOGS is eligible to join a committee.
What kind of work do our committees do? They oversee the operations of the Grad Club; they manage the Society’s finances and health plan; they coordinate the Graduate Student Teaching Awards, the Western Research Forum, and the Western Journal of Graduate Research; they help international graduate students; they develop the Society’s Policy Manual, Bylaws, and Constitution; and they work on issues pertinent to graduate students.
Although it may look like a lot, serving on a SOGS committee usually takes very little time. 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.
An overview of the committees by portfolio follows. The overview will link to a detailed description, if available; if you prefer to browse, detailed descriptions are available further down this page.
Portfolio of the President
- The Policy Committee reviews existing SOGS policy and drafts new policy to fill request or need. The committee’s current priority involves compiling an official policy manual for SOGS.
Chair: Andi Ghosh | firstname.lastname@example.org
- An ad hoc task force to advocate for changes in graduate student funding models.
Portfolio of the VP Academic
- Academic Committee
Co-Chair: Chandell Gosse | email@example.com
Co-chair: Victoria O’Meara | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Graduate Student Teaching Awards Committee
Chair: Katee Van Campen | email@example.com
- Gradcast Editorial Board (GradCast)
Chair: Tristan Johnson | firstname.lastname@example.org
Portfolio of the VP Advocacy
- The Equity Committee (EC) deals with issues of human rights, discrimination, and accessibility.
Co-chair: Taniya Nagpal | email@example.com
Co-chair: Melanie Stone | firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Graduate Student Issues Committee (GSIC) is concerned with general advocacy, issues, and campaigns.
Chair: Alex Yan | email@example.com
- 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.
Contact: Taniya Nagpal | firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Sustainability Committee (SC) communicates fundamental concepts in sustainability to students in a fun and stress-free setting.
In addition to their website, they manage a Facebook group.
Co-chair: Sara Belontz | email@example.com
Co-chair: Rebecca Doyle | firstname.lastname@example.org
Portfolio of VP Finance
- Bursaries and Subsidies Committee
Chair: Eric Diehl | email@example.com
- Finance Committee
- Grad Club Committee
Chair: Driton Nushaj | firstname.lastname@example.org
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: Richard Harris | email@example.com
- The International Graduate Students’ Issues Committee (IGSIC) deals with concerns particular to international graduate students.
Chair: Nafiz Shuva | firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Orientation and Social Committee (OSC) is a SOGS committee devoted to organizing Fall Orientation and social events throughout the year.
Chair: Garret Munch | email@example.com
Reporting to the Speaker/CRO
- Bylaws and Constitution Committee
Chair: Martin Lefebvre | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Appeals Review Commission
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.
Timeline of Events (Aug 2015 – Dec 2015)
August 2015: Last year this committee hosted a series of focus groups and surveys to understand exactly what does the student body want us to focus on this year, what equity related issues would they like addressed. In response to this, we found that there is no graduate specific community fair which invites resources in the community to our campus. The planning for the Graduate Students Community Resource Fair was put into action.
September 2015: We welcomed new members to our Equity Committee and build great connections. One of these connections is the Society of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies with whom we worked on our Resource Fair and have other projects planned for this year. Additionally this committee began advocating for a supplementary food bursary in addition to the PSAC food bursary, with a 24-48 hours turnaround time. This is an ongoing advocacy project with more details to follow shortly. Additionally, working with IGSIC and the WCC we hosted an International Students and Families donation drive which successfully donated household items to our peers!
October 2015: We hosted our Resource Fair which welcomed community and Western members to share what resources they have available to us to support our well-being. We learned that during orientation, there needs to be a great focus on graduate students and connecting them with resources beyond their academics. This fair will begin its planning next year much earlier and we hope to have it hosted right during orientation week.
November/December 2015: As we wrapped up our fair, we continued our connection with SGPS to see how we can now move forward. Please see below for what you can expect from this committee in the coming months!
Plans for 2016
1) In collaboration with the Women’s Concerns Commissioner, we want to find out how many graduate students have parental responsibilities and we want to hear from those students! How can we better support you? What is lacking in our system? What do faculty, staff and other students need to better understand?
2) Working with SGPS, we hope to actually develop a research project to understand the equity related issues student-parents may face, and publish our findings so universities across Canada can also learn how to support graduate students with parental responsibilities. We respect, and understand that graduate students are not all the same and now we want that to be a message that universities, all faculties, staff and colleagues bring to the forefront of their academic environment.
3) Based on that research, we will then advocate for change according to what these students have indicated they hope to see or would find helpful at Western.
4) As mentioned, we will continue to advocate for an additional food bursary provided through SOGS. Students who have used the limited amount requested from PSAC can then turn to SOGS, which will aim to have a 24 hours 48 hours maximum turnaround time to support our students. More information on this project will be provided shortly.
5) Last year, through the Women’s Concerns Commission and with the IGSIC, we hosted a Graduate Students and Families Donation Drive of household items and tagain with the support of SGPS was a great success. We hope to do this again next year!
6) Finally, as mentioned the resource fair will happen again but this time during orientation week. In general, we hope to have a more interactive O-Week for Graduate students this year and we will be welcoming suggestions on how to go about advocating for this.
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.
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 Chair.
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 ihaveaplan.ca or call 1-886-358-4435.
Graduate Student Issues Committee (GSIC)
Mission Statement / Mandate
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.
Auditing the university budget and coming up with an alternative budget in the interest of reducing tuition/student fees and increasing the accessibility of graduate education.
Work towards the development of a comprehensive wistleblower policy to cover graduate students
Water Quality on Campus
Review of public water facilities on campus
Racism Task Force
Work in conjunction with Equity Committee to bring the CFS Racism Task Force to Western (as mandated by Council)
Monitoring the funding allocated from the federal government to improve the quality of graduate studies.
Discussion of the potential implications of changes to federal copyright laws in terms of graduate research, production, and intellectual property
Food Quality on Campus
Concern regarding access to healthy, affordable food options on campus
Advocating for reduced tuition fees in the dissertation stage of degree programs
Lab Safety Issues
Verifying that the procedures/policies currently in place to ensure lab safety regulations are sufficient and being followed (as needed)
Grad Student Housing
Conducting an online survey among the graduate students. The survey outcome will be made available to SGPS so that they can put this information into website. It will be helpful for the new students to find their accommodations based on their specific criteria and needs
International Graduate Student Issues Committee (IGSIC)
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.
The executive summary from the IGSIC International Graduate Student Survey completed in 2013 is available online [PDF].
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: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Western.SOGS.IGSIC/ 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 student.
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. It is also responsible for producing and distributing the SOGS Handbook/Dayplanner (which can be picked up, along with the bus pass, in the SOGS Office – UCC 260 in early September). The OSC is also devoted to supporting The Grad Club by hosting the majority of its events there.
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 a New Student Party, the distribution of the Canadian Federation of Students ISIC Cards (International Student Identity Cards), along with food, games, and prizes.
Social Events: Each year, the OSC hosts a number of events such as Wonderland, London Knights games, Film screenings, Karaoke, and monthly Board Game nights.
All tickets for events associated with the OSC will usually be sold, unless otherwise stated, at the SOGS Office (UCC 260).