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PGSS Executive midterm reviews

a/News/PGSS by
Brighita Lungu
Ge Sa
Jennifer Murray
Juan Pinto
Nikki Meadows
Julien Ouellet

(pgss.mcgill.ca)

This week, the McGill Tribune conducted midterm reviews of the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) executives.
Click on the portraits to learn more.
Members Affairs Officer, Brighita Lungu
Lungu has been working on several projects, including the #ConsentMcGill campaign and mental health initiatives. She acted as a PGSS representative in the Sexual Assault Working Group, acting actively to recruit graduate students to become involved.
Lungu is also currently engaged with a number of mental health initiatives, including organizing a two-day mental health first-aid training for executive officers, commissioners, and graduate students to take part in. She is also working in collaboration with Mental Health Services, Counselling Services, and the Peer Support Network on a video which will include testimonials from students, that seeks to address and decrease the stigma associated with mental health issues. According to Lungu, the project has fallen behind schedule and the video may not be able to be released in February as originally planned.

Internal Affairs Officer, Ge Sa

According to Ge Sa, officer responsible for organizing events for PGSS members, he has had a busy calendar this year, with events such as the Summer Dodgeball League, the Habs ticket sale, and the PGSS Halloween Party. Turnouts at events this semester have been larger than before, according to Sa.
This year, Sa has been trying to organize more family-friendly events to accommodate PGSS members who are also parents.
“We have had, among others, an outdoor movie night […] an apple-picking trip, special ticket deals to the Botanical Garden, La Ronde, and many music or comedy shows,” he said. “We’ll [also] be having a Holiday Movie Marathon Week in December at Thomson House.”
Sa believes that financial support is an area of improvement that his portfolio could benefit from. He is currently working with Pinto to establish an Intramural Sports Grant, with an aim to encourage members to be more physically active. They are also working on a project to improve Thomson House, but both projects will require significant financial support.”

Academic Affairs Officer, Jennifer Murray

According to Murray, there has been an increase in student participation on university committees this year.
Murray worked on the amendments to the regulations and guidelines for graduate student supervision, which were passed in Senate in October. The amendments increased accountability for both the supervisors and the supervisees, and is part of the long term push to improve advising for graduate students.
Also, as part of her portfolio on library improvements, Murray recruited graduate students to sit at feasibility study groups for the library master plan.
Murray, also explained that the transition of over 1,200 graduate students, postdoctoral, and clinical fellows to the new Glen superhospital will pose challenges to PGSS members, and she will be working to support students during the move.

Secretary-General,  Juan Pinto

Pinto’s push for redesigning PGSS’s internal judiciary is one of the main highlights of his work thus far. The Judicial Board—formerly the Board of Appeals—will be restructured so that it will require a law student to deal with procedural issues, and that judges be nominated and approved by councils rather than appointed.
The biggest challenge for Pinto remains pushing a PGSS referendum to separate from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). After 5 years of litigation, the Superior Court of Quebec granted a PGSS member the right to ask for a referendum to leave CFS—a step in the right direction for all of PGSS, according to Pinto. However, the main challenge for Pinto and the rest of PGSS remains the referendum itself, and it remains to be seen how the process will unfold.

Financial Affairs Officer, Nikki Meadows

In her first semester on the job, PGSS Financial Affairs Officer Nikki Meadows has successfully amended two major funds under her portfolio. According to Meadows, the process of applying for grants is more streamlined and more transparent, with the selection criteria more clear to applicants. The Post-Graduate Student Life fund was also overhauled. The first major change allows Post-Graduate Student Associations to have more control over the Student-Life fees that are collected from their membership. In addition, the Association of Postdoctoral Fellows will receive 25 per cent of the Student-Life fees from each post-doctorate for the first time. According to Meadows, the lease negotiations for Thomson House with McGill are still ongoing.

External Affairs Officer, Julien Ouellet

As a representative of McGill graduate students to student groups and the Quebec government, Ouellet’s largest project this term has been to continue his predecessors’ work lobbying for revenue neutral health insurance for international students, which he has been successful in doing. Smaller successful projects include his organization of a conference with the president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), a draft of the new Frais Institutionals Obligators (FIO) policy, and the organization of a GU15 conference—an annual conference between 15 research intensive universities as a way to share and collaborate information.
According to Ouellet, the major challenge he has faced has been austerity measures and the difficulty of implementing a subsidized Société de transport de Montreal (STM) pass for students who are older than 25. As the STM is currently operating under a deficit, Ouellet remains optimistic that he will be able to complete this initiative once the STM has balanced their budget.

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