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Post-Graduate Student Society (PGSS) Executive Midterm Reviews

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Helena Zakrzewski, Secretary-General

Zakrzewski ran on a platform of improving mental health services for graduate students, increasing support for international students, and re-engaging society members. Over the past semester, she has overseen and supported the initiatives of other PGSS councillors while undertaking an extensive evaluation of PGSS governance bodies. Zakrzewski initiated and secured funding for a comprehensive third-party audit of PGSS governance structures to be conducted in the new year, and worked to overhaul the PGSS Appointments Board and International Student Caucus administrative processes. She has also initiated projects for PGSS member engagement and mental health services. As Secretary-General, Zakrzewski has refocused her efforts into enacting governance reforms that have the potential to leave a lasting positive impact on PGSS.

Sibat Anam, Financial Affairs Officer

Anam has navigated PGSS’s financial systems to respond to post-graduate students’ needs for funding and services. Most significantly, he has worked with the Committee on Monetary Affairs to improve the Grants Program, raising the maximum amount of funding available by 50 per cent and providing applicants with more information on the process. Non-unionized post-doctorate students will also benefit; previously, their Student Life Fund student fees were left unused because they were not represented by a Post-Graduate Student Association (PGSA). Anam allocated these funds to the Experimental Medicine Graduate Student Society, which will in turn hold more inclusive events for all post-doctorate students. Moving forwards, Anam intends to propose amendments to the Society Activities Manual later this month, fulfilling his campaign promise to increase funding for student travel. He is also preparing for the upcoming Health and Dental Fee referendum to be held during Winter 2019.

 

Hocine Slimani, External Affairs Officer

In his second term as External Affairs Officer (EAO), Slimani has focused on advocating for graduate students’ interests at the provincial and federal level. Slimani attended Quebec Student Union (QSU) caucuses in June and August 2018 and felt that the Society’s desire to make public data more available for research purposes was fairly represented. However, PGSS’s lack of membership to a provincial student union has posed a significant barrier to completing Slimani’s key campaign promises. At the onset of both of his terms, Slimani pointed to the benefits of considering postdoctoral students as employees but has been unable to make progress in lobbying the provincial government on the issue. Moreover, Slimani has failed to put affiliation to a student union like QSU to referendum this semester as he had promised to do during his campaign. Slimani’s partnership with the Students’ Union of McGill University (SSMU) and the Milton-Parc community to investigate affordable housing options near campus has completed its first phase, however, the project’s progress is slow and inconclusive.

 

Konstantina Chalastara, Internal Affairs Officer

Having previously held the position of PGSS Environment Commissioner, making events more environmentally friendly was a priority for Chalastara. Chalastara has been steadily working toward this goal since the beginning of the semester: PGSS Orientation Week received a gold certification from the McGill Office of Sustainability. In the first month of the semester Chalastra organized an impressive 26 events on top of Orientation Week, all of which were well-attended. In November, Chalastara planned Eco-Week, which ran Nov. 12-25 and featured a variety of panels and workshops. Chalastara has also been working to make social events more accessible by implementing family friendly events and improving social media engagement. For Winter 2019 she hopes to improve the Winter Orientation for students starting at McGill in January.

 

Maria Tippler, Academic Affairs Officer

Tipler organized her platform around the theme of synergistic projects and initiatives that increase involvement with other PGSS executives, commissioners, and stakeholders. She has achieved her goal of improved communication, and, among other accomplishments, has provided students with guidance on working with professors in an Oct. 26 panel, strengthened PGSS transparency by documenting a paper trail for the Library Improvement Fund, and clarified committee application procedures. Currently, Tippler is working on creating a streamlined document to promote funding opportunities for students, updating the PGSS website, and planning for the Ottawa Networking Trip in January. Given Tippler’s commitment to transparency and her history of both fulfilling and exceeding campaign plans, her ability to continue to deliver on ongoing projects is promising.

 

Jeremy Goh, Member Services Officer

Goh has sought to make PGSS more accessible and inclusive by creating programs that can remain in place after his term concludes. He has revamped the Study Sundays program by creating more spots and hiring a core group of paid student babysitters. In collaboration with PGSS’ equity commissioner, Goh passed a motion in support of the #ChangeTheName campaign, uniting an often-detached PGSS with the rest of McGill. He also administered a special referendum regarding the Student Services fee for non-unionized post-doctoral students. Currently, he is building a structural support system for students starting families and is also preparing for the Winter 2019 Health and Dental Fee referendum. Next semester, Goh hopes to work more closely with his constituents and set up a formal feedback platform for PGSS services.

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