Maria Tippler, Secretary-General
Despite taking up the PGSS Secretary-General position in early October, Tippler has initiated several advocacy, administrative, and support projects this semester. On the advocacy front, Tippler has focussed on accreditations and tuition fee deregulations, WorkDay HR technical issues, and Bill 21. On the administrative side, Tippler has supported the Recording Secretary in keeping the PGSS meeting minutes and Book of Resolutions up to date, restructured some PGSS staff portfolios, and started translating PGSS governing documents’ updates into French. Taking on duties outside her portfolio this year, Tippler is currently transitioning a new Academic Affairs Officer into the position and has also been filling gaps in the vacant External Affairs Officer and Student Support Commissioner portfolios. Tippler said she hopes the current vacancies are filled by next term so that she can work on more of her own initiatives, like revamping the PGSS website to make it more accessible.
Dakota Rogers, Members Services Officers
Dakota Rogers oversees all services at PGSS, including the Health and Dental Insurance Plan, Graduate Peer Support Program, Keep.meSAFE, and leisure courses. In accordance with the COVID-19 public health guidelines, Rogers successfully transitioned the PGSS leisure courses and the Peer Support Program to an online format. Rogers and the PGSS Health Commissioner have been working hard since the beginning of their terms to implement the new Keep.meSAFE program. Rogers is also in the process of gauging new services for the winter semester; the first is Dialogue, an e-health service that would provide students with access to a vast network of doctors and nurses and the second is the Legal Protection Program, which would give students access to legal counselling and complementary legal representation in certain areas. Rogers hopes that these services will go to referendum in the coming spring for implementation in September 2021. Additionally, Rogers is working on establishing a BIPOC graduate student networking service to provide a supportive space for all BIPOC graduate students at McGill.
Connie Shen, Financial Affairs Officer
Despite taking on additional responsibilities following the PGSS Secretary-General’s resignation in summer 2020, Connie Shen has been hard at work advocating for graduate student funding, increased transparency regarding finances, and ease of access to PGSS services. Given rising financial instability due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shen has worked with the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to make emergency access to extra funding more accessible. While the Thomson House’s bar and restaurant have been closed since red zone restrictions took place, Shen has since been involved in assessing how to safely reopen the space when the government permits it. Finally, in response to the society’s concerns that executives and commissioners not being fairly remunerated for their work, Shen has hired more support staff, and created a working group to further address the issue.
Sophie Osiecki, Academic Affairs Officer
Since taking on the Academic Affairs Officer position on Nov. 9, Sophie Osiecki has had little time to work on new projects. In the coming months, she plans to rework the PGSS’ committees system by updating committee and commissioner application forms to be more intuitive, developing a plan to standardize communications throughout the committee application process, and revitalizing several PGSS committees. Beyond updating internal PGSS operations, she also plans to promote the existence of the Library Improvement Fund, and encourage applications for virtual services. Finally, Osiecki hopes to put forward more online surveys and related discussion items at PGSS meetings to increase dialogue with PGSS members on academic matters.
Tina Giordano, Internal Affairs Officer
Over the course of the semester, Tina Giordano has attempted to increase student engagement in the society while abiding by COVID-19 regulations. Some initiatives this year have included helping to organize PGSS’ participation in a national trivia competition, working with the Equity Commissioner to start a Voices for Diversity speaker series, and organizing a month-long orientation for incoming students. She has also helped facilitate a virtual ballet class, a book club, and a movie club. Over the rest of her term, Giordano is hoping to create virtual training for the next Internal Affairs Officer by using Google Classroom, which she anticipates will be more efficient than the current training system. All events but one have taken place online, enabling Giordano to build community all while remaining safe.