November 2018 Council Summary


  • The next council meeting will be on JANUARY 31  in MC 110.
  • Speaker’s Corner will happen at 4-5 pm prior to Council meetings. If you have questions regarding Council protocols or about motions in the package, this is your opportunity to ask the Speaker before the meeting.

Upcoming SOGS Events:

  • Ugly Sweater Party (Dec 6: 7:30 pm-11 pm @ the Grad Club): Tickets are $5, which includes: a themed cocktail, gingerbread house or cookie decorating, trivia participation, and access to prizes! Tickets are available at the SOGS office (MC 8).
  • B.Y.O.C.  Bring Your Own Crafts – Monday, December 10 @ the Grad Club, 7 pm
  • December Board Game Night: December 19th @ the Grad Club, 7pm-11 pm.
  • January Orientation “Snowball” Dance: January 18th @ the Grad Club, 8 pm-11 pm.
  • The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has drop-in hours starting Nov 21 to Dec 13 in Student Health Services (UCC, room 11).
  • CMHA is also soliciting feedback and ideas on mental health literacy initiatives. If you or someone you know has any ideas or suggestions to improve mental health literacy on campus, please email and VP Student Services, Jeremy Johnston, will forward that information to our CMHA contacts.
  • Western Research Forum abstract call-out during the last week of November.
  • GPS committee: The drop-in peer support program continues on Wednesdays from 2:30-4:00 pm in the multi-purpose room, SOGS office (MC 8).
  • Dissertation drop-in will continue on Friday’s from 10am-3:45pm. Bring your lunch, coffee and snacks, and write in a stress-free space all day in the SOGS multi-purpose room.


This was a busy meeting, with a wide variety of motions on the agenda.

Response to the provincial government’s financial update: The President asked for a mandate from SOGS to make a public statement condemning the provincial government’s recent decision to cancel three proposed satellite campuses and a new French-language university in Ontario. The motion passed.

2017–18 Surplus: A number of motions were passed relating to the allocation of SOGS’s operating surplus from the 2017–18 fiscal year. The Finance Committee prepared a recommendation based on requests they had a received, and Council approved the Finance Committee’s recommendation. The items in the recommendation varied from purchasing boardroom chairs for the new SOGS office to hiring a graduate student to perform a research project on grad student well-being. A separate motion from the VP Academic was passed to create two graduate student positions designated for assisting with academic appeals. More details about the various initiatives to be funded through the surplus will follow. A motion was also passed requesting transparency with regards to budget and surplus recommendations.

Indigenous bursary: A motion was passed formally creating a bursary designated for Indigenous graduate students, funded through a donation from Studentcare, our current healthcare broker. The first bursary will be awarded in the 2019–2020 academic year.

Fair Trade and Direct Trade Coffee: Council passed a motion from the VP Finance formalizing SOGS’s commitment to offering fair trade or direct trade coffee at the Grad Club.

Bylaw changes: The bylaws and constitution committee put a series of motions on the agenda. The changes provided clarification on several points, particularly the membership and role of the Appeals Review Commission.

Freedom of Expression Speaker Series: In light of the recent decision by the provincial government, Councillor Colin Couper proposed that SOGS strike an ad hoc committee tasked with organizing a speaker series on free speech and freedom of expression. The motion passed. A call for members will go out shortly.

Feedback wanted

SOGS is seeking feedback on the following topics:

International tuition: Starting in September 2018, international PhD students pay domestic tuition instead of international tuition. There have been reports that after this change, some international PhD students’ take-home pay decreased. If students are in this situation, they are encouraged to contact Dr. Linda Miller, Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies) at

Vacation time: Currently, graduate students are entitled to two weeks of vacation time per school year (in addition to statutory holidays and standard university closures). SOGS would like to know if grad students feel that this is sufficient. Those who would like to provide feedback may do so by contacting the VP academic at

Discovery credit: Currently, undergraduate students at Western have the option of taking a course outside of their major on a pass/fail basis, called a discovery credit. Discovery credit provide students with a lower-risk opportunity to explore a new area. SOGS would like to know if graduate students would like to see this option made available to them. Members are encouraged to weigh in by emailing the VP academic at

Language requirements: Some programs require graduate students to demonstrate reading proficiency in a second and third language. Currently, Western has a French reading course and a German reading course that provide the means to fulfill language requirements. However, these courses are often not offered and grad students are pursuing language study elsewhere, often at their own expense. If it would be useful to grad students in your program for the French and German reading courses to be offered every summer, please contact Councillor Diana Wu ( with information about the requirements in your program and the barriers students have faced.

Call for Nominations

Graduate Education Council: Representatives from Ivey and Law still needed to sit on the GEC. Meetings are once per term. Contact for more information.

SOGS Presidential Election: Call for Nominations will be open January 7-18, 2019. Balloting will be January 29-30, as per the University Secretariat. More information to come.

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