June 2019 Newsletter

The Update, the official monthly electronic newsletter from SOGS, keeps you up to date on issues and events affecting graduate students at Western University.

Between editions of the newsletter, you’ll find updates on Facebook,  Twitter, the IGSIC Facebook page and on our events calendar!

We’re back to our magazine-style newsletter layout (PDF), so click the newsletter front page below to read the issue in full. All links to external websites in this issue are live and appear in blue.

Quick link: June 2019 Newsletter

May 2019 Council Summary

Read the Council Summary

For the full May Council package, see here.

The next Council meeting will take place June 27th in MC 110.

Speaker’s Corner: 4-5pm (prior to Council meetings, last Thursday of the month) @ the Grad Club. For all Council related matters, contact speaker@sogs.ca.

Upcoming Events:

  • Breaking the Fast BBQ End of Ramadan Celebration: Thursday June 6th, 5-7pm @ the Grad Club.
  • Monthly Bring Your Own Crafts: June 10th, 7pm @ the Grad Club
  • Monthly Board Game Night: June 19th, 7pm @ the Grad Club
  • Monthly Karaoke Night: June 21st, 7-10pm @ the Grad Club

Self-Care and Support

  • SOGS Peer Advisor for Academic Matters: Ariana Potichnyj (advisor.academic@sogs.ca)
  • Graduate Peer Support (GPS): drop-in on Tuesdays (5:30pm-6:30pm) in MC 17 will resume in the fall.
  • Dissertation drop-in: Fridays from 10am-3:45pm.

SOGS Financial Support and Funds

Elections

  • Ombudsperson: SOGS has elected a new Ombudsperson: Martin Lefebvre
  • Call for SOGS Speaker nominations: SOGS members in good standing who wish to nominate themselves to the position of Speaker must send their nomination (and an optional 1-page election poster/platform) to the SOGS Executive (executive@sogs.ca) no later than June 18th at 4:00 pm EDT.

Motions

  • A motion was passed to sign a five-year agreement with SOGS’ current health care provider/broker.
  • A motion was passed to update the Policy Committee Bylaws (2.9.5.11.) to reflect current practice so that the Policy Committee is no longer responsible for maintaining the motions database.
  • A motion was passed to use the remaining 2015-2016 surplus funds ($2180.04) to host one staff event and one event with its wider membership to raise awareness and secure support in the face of the Student Choice Initiative. Any remaining funds from this amount will be used towards SCI expenses.
  • A motion was passed to strike an ad hoc committee to encourage graduate students to remain part of the SOGS membership and to promote the “Stick with SOGS” campaign.
  • A motion was passed to strike an ad hoc committee to assist the Women’s Concerns Commissioner with planning the Take Back the Campus March during October’s Consent and Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

May 2019 Newsletter

The Update, the official monthly electronic newsletter from SOGS, keeps you up to date on issues and events affecting graduate students at Western University.

Between editions of the newsletter, you’ll find updates on Facebook,  Twitter, the IGSIC Facebook page and on our events calendar!

We’re back to our magazine-style newsletter layout (PDF), so click the newsletter front page below to read the issue in full. All links to external websites in this issue are live.

May 2019 newsletter: READ MORE HERE.

April 2019 Newsletter

 

SOGS Update, the official monthly electronic newsletter from SOGS, keeps you up to date on issues and events affecting graduate students at Western University.

Between editions of the newsletter, you’ll find updates on Facebook,  Twitter, the IGSIC Facebook page and on our events calendar!


Newsletter Contents:

  • 2019 SOGS Vice-President Elections
  • We’re Hiring…Again! Job Opportunity with SOGS
  • Graduate Student Teaching Awards
  • Funding Opportunities
  • Support Programs
  • Changes to OHIP+
  • Events
  • The Grad Club
  • Academic Opportunities
  • Free Tax Filing
  • Volunteers Needed: SOGS Committee Call-Out 
  • Monthly Trivia

Continue reading “April 2019 Newsletter”

March 2019 Newsletter

SOGS Update, the official monthly electronic newsletter from SOGS, keeps you up to date on issues and events affecting graduate students at Western University.

Between editions of the newsletter, you’ll find updates on Facebook,  Twitter, the IGSIC Facebook page and on our events calendar!


Newsletter Contents:

  • 2019 SOGS Vice-President Elections
  • We’re Hiring! Job Opportunity with SOGS
  • Free Tax Filing
  • Columbia Sportswear Employee Store Invitation
  • VRCADIA SOGS Member Discount
  • SOGS Funding Opportunities
  • SOGS Support Programs
  • Academic Life: Opportunities & Initiatives
  • International Women’s Day Events
  • Political Events
  • Campus Events
  • Campus Events: International Students
  • Monthly Trivia 

Continue reading “March 2019 Newsletter”

We The Students – Student Choice Initiative

On January 17, 2019, Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, announced a series of proposed changes to OSAP funding, university tuition fees, and student ancillary fees.

This announcement included:

  • A guaranteed 4 per cent cut in institutional funding;
  • A reduction in non-repayable grants and an increase in student loans;
  • An attack on students’ unions ability to represent and service their members;
  • The elimination of the 6-month grace period for loan repayment.

News coverage:


Students’ unions serve students in a number of significant ways, including:

  • Coordinating health and dental insurance plans;
  • Providing transit passes for students;
  • Running essential support services such as peer support, equity centres (e.g Pride centres), sexual violence support centres, food banks, etc.;
  • Providing academic support and advocacy services;
  • Creating volunteer and job opportunities for students;
  • Operating non-profit commercial services, such as book stores, restaurants, cafes and food services.

What does this mean for SOGS?: Graduate students will be able to opt out of any non-essential ancillary fee, which includes SOGS membership dues. 

SOGS membership dues fund:

  • Administration of the health/dental plan and the LTC bus pass program;
  • Advocacy initiatives on and off-campus;
  • Awards – Thesis Completion Fund, Peggy Collins Memorial Award;
  • Bursaries each term for Canadian and international students;
  • Committees;
  • Commissioners stipend for the Accessibility, Indigenous, Pride, and Women’s Concerns Commissioners;
  • Elected executive stipend;
  • Elected commissioner stipends;
  • Emergency Loan program for graduate students;
  • GradCast radio show (CHRW 94.9 – every Tuesday) – SOGS official radio show for graduate student by graduate students;
  • Graduate Student Teaching Awards;
  • Ombudsperson stipend;
  • Orientation week in September and January;
  • Operation of the SOGS office (includes staffing, supplies and building services/fees);
  • Non-TA foodbank;
  • Student Government (i.e., SOGS monthly council) and the departmental grants issued to each department annually for councillor attendance at monthly council (which helps pay for activities and events for graduate student associations across campus);
  • Scholarships: 125th Scholarship
  • Student advocacy and membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) (includes attendance at various CFS meetings provincially and the national AGM);
  • Subsidies: Travel, Childcare, and Professional Placement;
  • Subsidized social and cultural events for students (and their families) on and off-campus throughout the year;
  • Wellness week in October;

SOGS also provides students with:

  • A well-rounded campus life;
  • Academic and wellness supports;
  • Academic appeals advocacy;
  • Advocacy for minority students;
  • A voice with local government representatives;
  • Connections with campus stakeholders, departments, campus organizations, and the TA/Postdoc union (PSAC Local 610);
  • Infrastructure of support, both academic and financial;
  • New student orientation events which bring new students together, fostering a positive graduate student experience;
  • Representation at Western University with administration;
  • Social and community programming;
  • New international student outreach;
  • Services for visiting and exchange students;
  • Support for at-risk graduate students.

If you DO NOT agree with the recent changes to Ontario university education funding, join the cause and sign the CFS-ON letter being sent to Premier Doug Ford, MPP Dr. Merrilee Fullerton (Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities), and your local MPP. 

Sign the letter here.


In addition, consider signing the March For Students Rights postcards and letter to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario available in the SOGS office (MC room 8).

   


Opinion Pieces and Editorials:

Press Releases:


Resources: 

SOGS January Council Summary

January 31, 2019

  • Full January Council Package (includes reports and agenda).
  • The SOGS Annual General Meeting will be on Tuesday, February 12th, 6:00pm, North Campus Building, room 117. Bring your Western ID!
  • The next council meeting will be on Thursday, February 28th, 6:00pm, Middlesex College, room 110.
  • Speaker’s Corner will happen before every council meeting, Thursdays at 4pm in the Grad Club.

Announcements:

  • The SOGS Presidential Election campaigning period is now open. CRO, Madison Bettle is organizing a Q&A with both candidates on Wednesday, January 30 afternoon in MC 105B – time TBD. PLease watch for an announcement. The polls for voting will be online Feb 4-5. You’ll receive notice from the University Secretariat with a link to vote online.
  • SOGS Annual General Meeting will be on FEBRUARY 12 in NCB 117 at 6 pm.
    • Councillors are not required to attend; Committee Chairs and Commissioners, however, are required to attend to present their reports.
    • All SOGS members are welcome to attend. Bring your WesternOne ID to check in at 5:30 pm.
  • Does your department host wellness events or outings? SOGS offers the Wellness Joint Fund for departments to help support wellness events for graduate students on and off campus. http://sogs.ca/wellness-joint-fund/
  • WINTER GAMES on University Hill event. Free! February 6 from 3:30-5:30pm. Snow person and snow angel making + hot beverages + winter fun and self-care.
  • CFS will be at the Grad Club February 12 and 13 from 10am-4pm to meet with SOGS members and talk about their campaigns AND to issue ISIC cards.
  • CFS will be hosting a COFFEE HOUSE event February 13 at the Grad Club from 5pm-8pm. Bring your poetry and spoken word!
  • Tubing at Boler Mountain – February 23. TIME/COST TBA. Tickets will be made available in the SOGS office.
  • Immigration Info Session with Mia Loebach-Readings, RCIC | Wednesday, February 27th 4:30pm – 6:30pm | UC 3110 Conron Hall | Online Registration to follow.
  • SOGS members – Free tax filing through CFS : ufile.ca
  • GPS committee – MC room 17, Tuesdays, 5:30-6:30pm.
  • Dissertation drop-in – Fridays all day.

MotionsSummary and Outcomes:

VP of Finance Motion: The motion to approve the 2019-2020 SOGS and Grad Club budgets was passed by council. The full budget breakdown can be found in the council report appendix here. In light of the Ford government’s January 17th announcement regarding student fees, councillors are encouraged to speak to fellow members about what SOGS is and provides, the awards they can apply for, the events they can attend, and the causes they can support.

Finance Committee Motion: The motion to accept the updated Finance Committee policy was passed by council. This update more accurately reflects the duties and responsibilities of the Finance Committee, acting as a useful template for future policy documents.

SOGS President Motion: The motion to strike an ad hoc committee to study SOGS’s structure and that of other graduate student societies in Canada, and for that ad hoc committee to maintain an arms-length relationship with the current executive while adopting the terms of reference outlined in the report, was passed by council. The committee shall have a maximum of eight voting members, elected from the SOGS membership by SOGS Council at the February 2019 Council. The SOGS Ombudsperson will act as ex-officio, non-voting member, and a committee chair will be elected amongst its members.

VP of Advocacy Motions: Two motions from the VP of Advocacy were passed. The first motion regarded writing a letter to the President, Provost, and Chair of the Board of Governors of Western in support of the project to development a general space for Indigenous graduate students. It is important for SOGS to take action and support the needs of Indigenous students, who should have a safe space on campus. The second motion regarded updating the Commissioner Bylaws, so Commissioners report twice per academic term, as well as report to the VP Advocacy prior to the Council package report submission date. This motion is to improve our current reporting methodology, keeping everyone in the process accountable.

Bylaws Committee Motion: The motion to include new Bylaws regarding Presidential nominations was passed. The Bylaws now reflect, In the event that a second nomination period is required for the presidential election, the online polling shall be conducted by the CRO, with assistance from the DCRO, no later than the third full week in March. No access shall be granted to the results of the on-line polling during the election, by any member or employee of the Society, with the exception of the CRO and the DCRO. The CRO and DCRO must verify daily that the on-line polling station remains operational, with the CRO taking ultimate responsibility.

This summary is provided to increase transparency, and to support Councillors in completing their obligations under Bylaw 2.3.5; “shall regularly communicate with his or her constituents concerning the activities, programs, and decisions of the Society”. If you have any questions, please contact our Communications Administrator (sogs.communications@uwo.ca) or the Speaker (speaker@sogs.ca).

As always, check out our website (www.sogs.ca) and follow us on Facebook (@Western.SOGS) and Twitter (@WesternSOGS) for communications, updates, and information about upcoming events!