Holiday Message from the GSA President

21 December 2021

The following is a message from GSA President, Anas Fassih:

On behalf of the GSA executive team, we wish everyone a restful, merry, and enjoyable holiday break.

Over the last six months, we have been working on key advocacy issues to serve our members, in line with our Board Strategic Work Plan. We are happy to report that we have made significant strides on a number of our advocacy priorities this year. Most notably, we have successfully lobbied for the passage of the Graduate Student Supervisory Guidelines at General Faculties Council and continue to work with the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research to ensure the implementation of these policies related to quality supervision. We have also been in conversation with the Provost on a reimagining of the funding model for graduate students to make it more equitable. Graduate students are facing a 7% tuition increase this year, which we oppose but have expressed an openness to discussing grandfathering a cohort of graduate students into the previously GSA-negotiated rebate (2019). We expect an answer to our proposal in early January.

Further, we have gained a measure of sustainability and cost-predictability for our Graduate Student Assistance Program by negotiating with the University to make a commitment of three-years’ worth of funding. We have also looked into increasing the benefits (and associated cost) for our GSA Health and Dental Plan dental benefits and Studentcare will be conducting a survey on our behalf related to this. We likewise continue to improve our student services by working with the Registrar’s Office and the Office of Advancement to fundraise for technology bursaries that our members will benefit from.

At the external level, we have thus far met with 24 MLAs from the provincial government and opposition, including high profile officials, to discuss introducing a dedicated immigration stream for international students, reforming financial aid, and implementing funding for care-giver graduate students. Additionally, as the GSA is also the union for academically-employed graduate students, we have allied with the Public Service Alliance of Canada to strengthen our bargaining position in order to serve the best interests of our union members.

Finally, since we champion a safe campus for all, we have worked closely with our colleagues from the Students’ Union to fight sexual violence on campus, and have moved the needle on the hiring of a Sexual Violence Response Coordinator who is expected to start their work in January.

That’s a brief update of where we are at as we continue to represent you this year. We will continue to fight for your rights and advocate for your best interests in improving your university experience. It remains an honour to serve you.