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.
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.
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
What kind of work do our Committees do? What is expected of me as a Committee member?
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.Committees overview
Committees generally meet about once a month, although this varies depending on Committee policy and the requirements of ongoing projects. Members are expected to attend as many meetings as possible, and to provide their regrets to the Chair if they are unavailable for any meeting. Much Committee work takes place at these meetings, though some projects do involve homework on the part of Committee members.
All in all, Committee members are invited to participate according to their availability and capacity. We understand graduate student schedules and priorities are often complex and shifting, and we want our expectation to be considerate of that fact. Please feel free to contact the Executive or any given Committee chair if you have questions around expectations or supports of Committee participation. Accommodations, such as video conferencing into meetings, may be pursued on a case-by-case basis dependant on feasibility.
Overview of committees
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.
Contact: Mary Blake Bonn | firstname.lastname@example.org
|An ad hoc task force to advocate for changes in graduate student funding models.|
Portfolio of the VP Academic
Contact: Jina Kum | email@example.com
|Graduate Student Teaching Awards Committee
Contact: Jina Kum| firstname.lastname@example.org
|Gradcast Editorial Board (GradCast)
Chair: Susan Anthony | email@example.com
Portfolio of the VP Advocacy
|The Equity Committee (EC) deals with issues of human rights, discrimination, and accessibility.
Chair: Taniya Nagpal | firstname.lastname@example.org
|The Graduate Student Issues Committee (GSIC) is concerned with general advocacy, issues, and campaigns.
Chair: Contact: Kirstyn Seanor | 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: Dianne Lalonde | 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.
Chair: Sabina Rakhimbekova | email@example.com
Portfolio of the VP Finance
|Bursaries and Subsidies Committee
Co-Chairs: Laura Cabral and Lauren Kaufman | firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Chair: Steven Janisse | firstname.lastname@example.org
|Grad Club Committee
Chair: Matea Drljepan | email@example.com
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: James Hughes | firstname.lastname@example.org
|The International Graduate Students’ Issues Committee (IGSIC) deals with concerns particular to international graduate students.
Chair: Nafiz Zaman Shuva | email@example.com
|The Orientation and Social Committee (OSC) is a SOGS committee devoted to organizing Fall Orientation and social events throughout the year.
Chair: Siobhan Smith and Jordan LeSarge | firstname.lastname@example.org and 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 again with the support of SGPS was a great success. Our second drive is currently taking place. Donate your unwanted household items to the SOGS Office by August 31.
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.
Graduate Peer Support (GPS)
The SOGS Equity Committee, along with SGPS, Student Experience, and CONNECT for Mental Health have teamed up to provide grads with a space for a mid-week break. We invite you to stop by the Wellness Education Center Wednesdays between 10:30am and 12:30pm for coffee, tea, snacks, and company. These drop-in sessions are open to any Western graduate student, and will be hosted by peer support facilitators to keep everything running smoothly.
Our Summer programming runs through August 31. This programming involves an open drop-in session every week, and a themed topic during the first week of the month:
- August 3 – Unrealistic Expectations of Grad Studies: How Am I Supposed to Do All This
Our Fall programming launches in October. Our Fall programming will have a dedicated weekly schedule that repeats every month:
- 1st Wednesday — Idle Hands : Keep your hands busy while you’re chatting with puzzles, playdough, and games.
- 2nd Wednesday — Themed Discussion : Open floor discussion dedicated to a specific aspect of grad life.
- 3rd Wednesday — Knit and Knatter : Craft kits will be made available, or bring in your own projects. Kids welcome!
- 4th Wednesday — Study Break : A quiet space to read, write, draw, plan, sketch, or even nap.
- 5th Wednesday — 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.
We hope you’ll stop by over the summer, or consider getting involved with facilitating GPS. We are currently seeking volunteers interested in being trained as peer support facilitators. Please email the VP Advocacy (email@example.com) for more information about the program, the committee, or to suggest talks you’d like to see in the future.
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
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 page, ihaveaplan.ca, or call 1-886-358-4435.
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.
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.
The executive summary from the IGSIC International Graduate Student Survey completed in 2013 is available online [PDF].
In recent years, IGSIC has partnered with the IESC to host various advocacy events around international graduate student tuition.
This year, SOGS ran a general Tax Info session for graduate students by inviting our Account, Michael King, to answer questions about graduate student taxes. 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.
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 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. If you’re interested in signing up for this Fall’s event, please do so here.
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.
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.
Graduate Departments/Associations can apply to the OSC Sponsorship Fund, which is overseen by the Orientation and Social Committee (OSC). The aim is to help as many organizations as possible, so Departments/Associations should not rely on this as a consistent form of funding each year.
All tickets for events associated with the OSC will usually be sold, unless otherwise stated, at the SOGS Office (UCC 260).