Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Former GSS director of finance at the York sit in.

Oh, Hussey, you radical!

Gingerbread folks!

These gingerbread folks are made possible by history grad students! (Because one of them gave me some supplies from their gingerbread decorating party so I could do some with my son). Any suggestion for names?

Bird on holiday

I know grad students never really get holidays, but bird is taking a tropical vacation none the less. He promises to submit a draft on Dec 26. Ginger Punk is taking over for the rest of the year.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

McGill's Thomson House struggling

McGill's famous (at least to me) Thomson house is having financial difficulty and is restructuring, according to an article in the McGill Daily.

For those not familiar, Thomson House is the grad centre for McGill, a lovely old Montreal home converted into a luxurious private club for grad students.

As an undergrad I used to gain entry by getting "signed in" as a guest of my friend, a fellow QPIRG staffer doing her MA at McGill.

I look back nostalgically on the beautiful wainscotting, small cozy rooms, the gorgeous ball room upstairs (used for dances and movie screenings) and the dingy basement caf ($3.99 dinner! -- ok it was prego pasta sauce on spaghetti), and in truth it is my dream to bring more of that cozy, club like, atmosphere to the Halpern Centre. Without the Prego on spaghetti or sign in sheet.

We have achieved some of this in our renovation by making the smaller "David Clode Room" a grad student hangout centred around the fireplace, and we are currently purchasing some new furnishing (booths!) for the large room in the restaurant. Also, we finally have some art back on the walls after many trips to the Maltwood where their patient staff let us comb through their offerings looking for just the right thing.

Today, I am fascinated by the story because I, too, deal with housing a restaurant within a grad students' non profit, and trying to find the best way to structure everything to make sure its not too expensive, it feels like grad students' own space, and we don't lose a ton of money! The world is not designed for businesses who aim to make things both high quality at a low cost for members, and running a bar is a risk for anyone, not less for a non profit student government. Those who attend our AGM's have heard me and executive members speak about the tough times we had a few years ago, and also know we have managed to rebuild financially, although we are always nervously watching the books... but I have no doubt McGill's PGSS will rebuild as well--Thomson house is too good to lose!--and I wish them luck with all the work ahead!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Representation Campaign Victories

The GSS is currently campaigning to guarantee representation for graduate students in departmental meetings. Grad students in Sociology lost their long standing right to voice and vote in department meetings last summer. Philosophy students are similarly fighting to maintain their full rights, having been reduced from full representative status to attending the beginning of the meeting and speaking to items in the previous minutes.

Read the Grad Rep Council motion in support of graduate student representation here.

Come to the GSS and sign the letter to support grad students in philosophy who are fighting to save their seat at the table!


  • History in Art grad students have won a guarantee of representation in their department--including voice and vote.
  • Physics & Astronomy grad students have increased their representation to include a grad student from each discipline at the table.
  • Changes to Senate elections policy have been won. Previsouly, although no policy precluded their candidacy, graduate students had been refused the right to run as the senator from their home faculty and had been directed to run for the sole Faculty of Graduate Studies seat. Due to lobbying by the GSS the interpretation of the rules has changed and graduate students can now run for all student seats on the Senate.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sustainable UVIC

Consultation on the UVIC Campus Sustainability Policy and Action Plan is ongoing. You can read the draft and submit your input here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Update on York TA's strike

Getting a reputation as one of the most active and determined campus unions, or any canadian union for that matter, is York's TA union.

Check out this article on their strike.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Support fellow grad students family in fun online auction!

Hi All, Some of you might now Jill through the Sociology department, others may not but might be interested in some of the items up for auction. Feel free to pass this along to anyone who might be interested. Thanks!

~Beth -----------------------

One of our valued and respected colleagues at BC Stats is facing significant challenges. Last July, Jill Adams' husband, Roger Stephen, fell 35 feet while climbing with friends at Pitt Lake, north of Vancouver. The fall severed his spinal cord and as a result, Roger lives with a permanent spinal cord injury. Over the past fives months, Roger has been bravely and pragmatically working hard towards a full and active life in a wheel chair. Jill and Roger are also facing huge challenges with their home they bought two years ago. They have a home he can't get into, a bedroom he can't maneuver in and a bathroom he can't use. Unfortunately, there are not many resources they are eligible for to help with costs of renovating and insurance is not available. As the months continue to pass since the accident, accessibility continues to be a challenge:

We have decided to host a fundraising event to help ensure they can have a home that is wheel chair accessible, safe and comfortable. There have been many little elves and angels working around the clock to bring you the Roger Stephen Auction. Many businesses and artists in Victoria, BC and beyond have generously donated a wide array of auction items.
We invite you to participate in the online auction and have a wonderful shopping experience as it is just in time for the holiday season. To access the website and view the items up for bid, click on the link below: .

Online bidding is easy. Here are the steps to place a bid:

(1) Register on the website by completing and submitting the registration form.

(2) Wait for a confirmation email. (Confirmation ususally takes about 30 minutes. The web site and the URL have been donated to us for this purpose, so thank-you for your patience.)

(3) Shop for you or someone special in your life (or both!). When you see an item of interest, place a bid. Once you have placed a bid, keep an eye on the action.

You have until Monday, November 24 to place that winning bid!
All proceeds from winning bids will go to accessibility renovations. If you don't wish to bid on items (or have lost your bid), but still would like to contribute or have any questions, email Kris Ovens directly at Unfortunately, as this is not a registered charity there are no tax receipts.
Thank you for your support and generosity. And please pass this email on to anyone you think may enjoy shopping this way. If you would like to pass this along to people who do not online access, and/or would like to see the descriptions/lists for each item up for bid, please see the attached document.
<> Happy shopping and let the bidding war begin!!
All of us at BC Stats
Beth Collins Analyst Surveys & Analysis, BC STATS (250) 356-7982 P Please consider the environment before printing this email.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Western creates parental leave for grad students

A graduate student at Western University successfully advocated to change parental leave policy for her university. She is also lobbying the tri-council agencies to ensure they each offer the same leave to parents.

Read about it in the Western. Read Western's leave policy here : grad students with no tri-council funding are granted $1500 parental leave and 12 months leave per child while pursuing their graduate work.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fire Hydrant retires

Legendary UBC student politician, Darren "Fire Hydrant" Peets completes his PhD, retires from student politics and moves to Japan; the Ubyssey has this excellent article chronicalling his many years of advocacy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Supporting the strikers

80 people came out to support the SUB steelworkers in their 7th week on the picket lines Wednesday night.

Thanks to grad students in CUPE 4163 (some members above), CUPE 951 and VIPIRG for joining in this effort and coming out to show your support for the strikers. Ben Johnson from the steelworkers bargaining committee enjoys the party with union member Jose Barrios (below).

Rebecca Taylor (Grad Rep for Indigenous Social Work masters program and VIPIRG staffer) raises a ruckus with her sing-a-long (below).

All these great photos by GSS Chair Nicole O'Byrne. Thanks Nicole!

Monday, October 13, 2008

GSS Annual General Meeting - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

When: Tuesday, October 28, 5pm
Where: Grad House restaurant at the Grad Centre
Who can vote: Any UVIC graduate student currently registered at UVIC
What to bring: Your valid grad student ID

Food will be provided!


Approve Agenda
Approve Minutes
Approval of 2008 audited statements
Appointment of the auditors
Consideraton of motions received with due notice
Other business

*Audited statements, minutes, and motions received with notice will be available at the Graduate Students' Society offices and posted on the GSS website by October 21, 2008. Please submit any motions for consideration at the meeting to Stacy Chappel no later than October 20, 2008 at noon.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Margaret Atwood on the importance of the Arts

I am thrilled to see the arts becoming a major election issue. Have a look at Margaret Atwood's excellent rebuttal to recent cuts to federal arts funding here.

UVic could take a cue from this article too. Where is our funding for fine arts grad students at UVic? Is it reflective of the huge contribution the arts makes to our community and culture? To our ways of thinking and perceiving the world?

What can be done about this? What should fine arts funding for graduate students look like at UVic?

For another take on the issue, check out this hilarious video.

See how fun politics can be when artists are in charge?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Since supercollider closed, play catan!

Since the super collider in Geneva had to be closed (until it can be warmed up enough that humans can repair it) you should all come to Settlers of Catan night at the Grad Centre tonight instead of smashing atoms!

If only the super collider had enough lumber and ore...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Grad House Opens Sept 8

At long last the renovations are done!
Amand and Alyshia (above) are among the staff returning (in groovy new shirts!).

We are celebrating the completion of the Summer of Renovations with a low-cost barbecue lunch September 8.

We are also opening at 10 am Sept 8 and selling coffee and cookies prior to the lunch rush.

Regular opening hours 11:30 am.

Come by and check out the spanking new kitchen!

Some new features to watch for:

New menu featuring fresh, local food
During renovations our Chef and Manager, Alan King-Jones toured farms all over southern Vancouver Island. The Grad House will feature lots of local fare--all our meat, seafood, eggs, cheese, milk and yes, hazelnuts (!) will be from southern Vancouver Island. As much of the produce will also be local, whenever it is in season. All smoked food will be smoked in house now--including salmon, tomatoes, and chicken. Don't worry--your favourites like yam fries and the house-smoked chicken sandwhich will still be there!

Watch for our menu launch at the end of the month!

David Clode Room offers grad student hangout
You asked for grad student space, and you got it. Monday Tuesday and Wednesday the small half of the restaurant is a lounge for grad students and has no food service. The small room is being renamed the "David Clode Room" in honour of Mr. David Clode who served UVic students for over 40 years and retired this summer. David was an AMS chair, then manager of the AMS, helped found the GSS, was a key part of founding the UVic childcare, and has been a tireless supporter of students for his entire working career. We will miss having him on our side in the meetings with UVic admin!!

We recognized a restaurant doesn't always feel like the best place to spread out your books and study, or to bring your own lunch, so the David Clode will be open whenever the building is open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (ie 8am to 9pm) for grad students to come hang out by the fireplace, bring your lunch, read a book. We are moving the lovely flat screen tv in there, along with all the comfy couches. Come by and relax in your space!

The Grad House will expand into the David Clode Room and offer table service on Thursdays and Fridays.

Take home dinners
Beginning this fall the Grad House will offer dinners you can pick up and take home on those long nights of studying when cooking seems impossible to manage. All in compostible containers made of corn that can go in your oven!!

New look for meeting rooms
We know grad students want to have social meetings for students in their departments--but when you need to book the restaurant the minimum catering charges can be too much for a student group. It was often the case that people didn't want to have their social meeting in the meeting rooms because they were too officey. So... we have repainted the meeting rooms (rooms 108-112) a warm brown colour that does not look like an office, and will be making them truly multipurpose as we upgrade the furniture over the next year.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Perhaps you are unaware you want to be the grad rep...

That's right! You want to be a grad rep!

Why? Well, how about being part of all the great changes the GSS is winning for our members?

In the past few years, the GSS has won some significant victories:
-payment of tuition in installments
-creation of an english as a second language thesis writing group
-reduction of fee unit requirement for one year programs (ie less tuition)
-worked with other grad students in BC to win the creation of a BC Grad Scholarship program

Grad reps, who are elected in each department and meet monthly at the GSS, have been part of all this. Grad reps also help with all major governance decisions at the GSS: do we renovate the kitchen? do we borrow money to do it? Do we build our own darn superconducting supercollider for Tayfun? Its up to the reps, man.

So think about getting involved. Make sure the problems faced in your department are being addressed. Learn from other departments about how to make your department cooler. (ie. Economics has pet fish. Do you??)

Oh, and btw there is pizza (or other food) at the meetings and we are having a grad rep social one hour into our first meeting Sept 30.

So... now you know. YOU want to run for grad rep and be the coolest grad in your department! Here's how:

Monday, August 25, 2008

TVs for sale!

TVs made redundant by renovation are up for best offer. First priority is any grad student group or department that can make use of these TVs. If such a need exists, the TV can be provided for free. Failing that, its best offer at Friday, March 29th. email me at gssmgr [-at-]

Monday, August 11, 2008

Has UVIC just elected its last chancellor?

Murray Farmer was just elected as UVIC's new chancellor in July.
According to the Ring, 3838 members of convocation voted. Convocation includes UVic alumni, current and former Board of Governor and Senate members, UVic current and retired faculty, staff who have worked at UVIC for 12 months and hold a university degree,

But if the BC government gets its way, Farmer will be the last UVIC chancellor who is elected by convocation. Deep in the University Amendment Act 2008, bundled in with the creation of about a billion new universities all at once, lies the amendment to make the Chancellor appointed rather than elected.

The Chancellor will be appointed thus:

(1) There must be a chancellor of each university, who is to be appointed by the board on nomination by the alumni association and after consultation with the senate or, in the case of the University of British Columbia, after consultation with the council.

(1.1) The chancellor holds office for 3 years and after that until a successor is appointed.
Granted, you could argue the Chancellor is a figure head. But he or she also represents the University all around the world, confers degrees, and is an ex-officio member of BOG and Senate. The right to elect the person who plays that role gives the convocation the ability to decide the "face" of UVic.

I do wonder what the motivaton is. It's not as if no one participates--3838 people just voted at UVIC at the peak of summer holidays! And it certainly seems like we have had excellent people elected in past. So what exactly needs fixing?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Big thing gets moved

I think this is some kind of venting system for the grill.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Antlered visitors

Had an interesting visitor to the office. in fact he's hanging outside our window right now.

Forget EagleCam... we should get the GSS Antlercam!

Working during a reno

Well, I never really believed the office part of the reno would be done exactly on time. Looks like it will take two weeks, rather than just the one week we all took off and closed the office.
As such, the staff are camped out amongst our haphazardly boxed office supplies and records.

Here's Juliet valiantly checking her email at the one internet-connected computer!

It's all for the good, however, as the result will be a better workspace for the staff.

We are adding two private office spaces, which will mean (for me) I can talk to students in private when they come for advice or support, and for our bookkeeper, she can have some quiet and order in a room also used for Executive and staff meetings.

Here's a peek at the main GSS office thus far:

This is the view in from the door. Directly ahead students will see the person to talk to, and there will now be a waiting area for students to sit down if there is a line.

Perhaps we should get a video game terminal in the waiting room like my son's dentist?

One thing about this renovation, you can really see how dirty our office carpet is. Yech!

Monday, July 7, 2008


For those of you new to victoria, here are some suggestions of how to escape your studies for a brief break this summer

Swan Lake hike. Accessible by Bus 26 from UVIC. Gorgeous! A couple hours of walking gives a total getaway! And what could be better than free?

B-Movies in Beacon Hill park! Check it out--here--it's free!

Moss Street Paint In, the Dragon Boats Festival, Simphony Splash and much more Victoria arts activities--here

Camping! UVic outdoor recreation can rent you all the camping gear you need at a reasonable price. Check out the BC parks camping website for ideas of parks nearby. For quick getaways, check out Goldstream Park--accessible by Victoria transit bus--thank you U-pass!

Cabin rentals! want to pool funds with some friends and rent a cabin? Some of the best deals around are available through the Land Conservancy!

UVic outdoor pool. Sweet! Victoria's only outdoor pool (except one in a hotel), and you are already a member so no charge for you if you paid fees for summer! Check out the schedule here.

Cadboro Bay /Gyro beach. Steps from UVIC, a gorgeous beach, shallow water for wading or swimming. Watch the sailboats! Check out Gyro here and other free parks programs here.

Rename the IQ contest

Hey! We are renaming Room 114 (currently "IQ Bistro") because I just cant take being made fun of for using an acronym that claims "intelligence" at the same time as misspelling "quisine" for one day longer.

Got a great idea of what the grad students's restaurant should be named? Submit it to --you could win a $50 gift certificate to the restaurant formerly known as IQ.

What about the small side, you ask? Well that is just about the worst kept secret on campus... what has happened to your gossip networks?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008


A surprise peak at what UVic might be using to transport staff and goods to various locations on campus. Electric cars and van!

That's campus live wire Sara Webb standing there with her fair trade organic coffee!
I even got a free ride around ring road. If "happiness" is to be measured in the cost benefit analysis in there, the amount of silly giggling from various UVic staff in the van definately weighs heavily in favour of purchase.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dig it!

There's really no going back now! The digger is in the back ripping out our GSS delivery drive.

I must say I greet this with a bit of relief. Deadlines for completion being what they are, and the demand for construction workers being so high, I was nervous the whole week between the GSS Executive approving the release of capital funds, and the various levels of approval going from my notice up to the Vice President Finance office, and then the letter to the contractors to say they can go ahead.

Hopefully, now all our various levels of approval and bureaucracy are done, construction will speed along handily. (I will keep you posted on progress!)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Going, going, GONE

Well, congrats to Biochemistry & Microbiology and English departments who have grad reps that are quick on the draw! (I love grad reps that read email from me!)

They are each taking one couch and one chair. . . so if you find yourself nostalgic for the 90's IQ Bistro, wander over to their departments and have a seat.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Have a seat!

From June 10 to June 20, the offer stands to any grad reps (or their delegate) to obtain one or more of these old blue leather couches or chairs for FREE for use by graduate students in their department grad space. This offer applies to the couches an chairs in the photo, not the newer ones in IQ Bistro.

The couches are large and heavy (but comfy) and quite scratched. Check you really have space before you send a request:

There are two couches: 84"W x 37"D x 36"H
and two chairs: 40"W x 37"D x 36"H

Offers from department grad reps will be taken via email to gssmgr[at] on a first come first served basis until June 20 at 10 am.

June 23-July 2 grad students can request to take one of the items home at their own cost of removal. (no charge). Also first come first served, by emailing gsscomm [at]

You will be required to show valid UVIC GRAD ID to obtain the chairs for personal use.

On July 2, the any chairs/couches remaining will be removed by UVic for resale or disposal.

It's a go!

In an exec meeting June 9, the GSS accepted a bid for kitchen renovations and office renovations from PRIMA construction. PRIMA is already working on several projects at UVIC.

The cost of the project, along with associated capital costs, is within the budget approved by GSS members at the Special General Meeting, and the GSS does not anticipate borrowing any funds to complete the work.

Al, the restaurant manager wasted no time in selling the old kitchen equipment. June 10 most of the kitchen equipment was removed.

Mike was kind enough to allow me to record the moment he removed the salad prep table for blogging posterity! (Good old prep table!)

One thing I will certainly not miss is the display case (commonly known as the "evil muffin coller" around the office. We have been putting off the removal until the renovation for as long as I have been here--since removing it leaves a huge gaping hole in our bar on the small side of the restaurant. This it sat, full of creamers and catsup.Noisy and ugly, I look forward to our new bar where once this beast sat gurgling and whirring its fan.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Opening the bids

So... nothing is settled yet, but the latest update is there was an "opening of the bids" June 5. Larry (from Facilities Management) made fun of me for bringing a camera so of course I have to put his picture up. Here is Larry, Carl and the other fella:Larry is in the middle--he's our project manager from UVIC. Carl has the fancy tie--he is the architect who is overseeing the reno (and who designed the Halpern Grad Centre in the first place!). The other fella is the other fella.
More news Monday.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Renovations update

IQ has been closed since mid-May. I thought it would be interesting to have some before, during and after shots during the renovations. These were taken by Al (the GSS Food and Beverage Manager) a week after we closed, midway through a big cleanup.

I don't think many people who eat at IQ realize just how small the kitchen is right now--and how excited we are for it to increase in size.

Contractors interested in bidding on the job have been coming through and whenever we give them the tour they are shocked at how tiny it is. Designed to nuke fish sticks and make nachos, this kitchen was certainly not meant to make the wide ranging menu our kitchen staff create daily.

After we closed, Al (the manager) and Pete (the sous chef) spent a week pulling out equipment and cleaning it up for resale.

And now we wait... but just for one more day. On Thursday, June 5 there will be an "opening of the tenders"--a formal meeting where bids from various contractors (we hope) are opened and reviewed to make sure all is in order. The GSS Executive will attend the opening of the tenders and then meet to decide on which bid to accept, and also how much to spend on related capital changes. I won't breath easily until we have sealed a deal, and I know it is within budget!

All going well, the crowbars are out on Monday June 9, and the old IQ kitchen will start coming apart.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Goodbye Utah Phillips!

I loved this old guy, his crazy stories and his radical music!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Handbook photo

Are you a photographer? Why not submit your best work for the cover of next years graduate student handbook? Send your images to gsscomm [at]

A summer without the patio....

.... so here is a nostalgic photo from last summer.

Despite patio losses now that there is finally some sun, we hope the renovations will make this summer's inconvenience worthwhile...

IQ bistro is closed for the remainder of the summer. A contract went to tender this week and hopefully the sledgehammers will fall starting early June.

A minor office renovation will mean the GSS office is closed July 14-18, and meeting rooms in the building are available only limited times.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Health Plan to include vision, improve paramedicals

Results in the referendum regarding the health plan are in:

261 ballots were cast, representing 10.4% of graduate students and meeting the test of 5% for quorum.

The winning option was to increase the health plan cost by $3.67 per month (to $255 per year) and increase coverage as follows: the health plan will now include vision coverage (for lenses) of up to $200 every two years, and to increase paramedical coverage to 100%, while maintaining the 10$ deductible per visit.

Distribution of votes was as follows: $44.04 per year ($3.67 per month).

Option A: Maintain current premium withe lower coverage: 51 votes (20%)
Option B: Increase paramedical coverage to 100% while maintaining 10$ deductible per visit: 32 votes (12%).
Option C: Add vision coverage of up to $200 ever two years: 60 votes (23%)
**Option D: Combine options B and C: 118 votes (45%)

Health and Dental Plan information is available here:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Referendum on Health and Dental Plan

Going to the polls... again. (This is it, I swear!)

Grad students will have the opportunity to vote on the coverage and cost of the GSS extended health and dental plans on April 22, 23, and 24th 2008.

The referendum will ask you to choose between the following options:
  1. Keep premium at current level with benefit reductions.
  2. Increase paramedical coverage to 100%, with $10 co-pay ($230/year, $19.17/month, an increase of $1.58/month
  3. Add vision coverage of up to $200 every 2 years ($245/year, $20.42/month, an increase of $2.83/month)
  4. Combine options B and C ($255/year, $21.25/month, an increase of $3.67/month)
Choice with the highest number of votes will be selected.

You will be able to vote on webvote and also by paper ballot at the GSS office.

Info on the referendum is here:

Info on the health and dental plan is here:

Worth a look

Monday, March 17, 2008

Victory on GSS campaign on payment issues

As many of you are aware, the GSS has been lobbying for three years to change the way students can pay their tuition. We sought a means for students to deduct their tuition in monthly installments without late fees, as is done by graduate students on every other major Canadian campus.

 Today I am pleased to say we have won a victory for all UVic graduate students.

 Effective September, UVic graduate students will be able to pay their tuition in equal monthly installments from their bank account by filling out a form with UVic, regardless of funding. Students will not be charged interest or pay a late fee penalty if they are using this program. There will be an administrative fee of $25 per year for the service. This fee is far less than what many students are paying in interest and late fees currently. Further, the program is optional - so if the current system works for you, you can stick with it.

 This victory is a great way for the GSS Executive to end our term. We want to send out a big thanks to everyone on Grad Council and the past executives who worked so hard on this over the past three years. A big congratulation and thanks to everyone who came to the meetings with the dean, wrote letters to the president, and generally worked to make our campaign succeed - you have won a victory that will help many grad students in the coming years!

 Patrick Reed,

GSS Chair

Friday, March 14, 2008

GSS Party March 20

Need an excuse to cut out early for the long weekend??
Exercise your franchise... and then your drinking arm!

Party for Democracy!

Step one: GO VOTE
March 18-20, 9am to 5pm is polling on the referendum on CFS membership. So... if you haven't already voted by Thursday, better leave the lab/office/corner of a shared desk where you study and get to the polls before 5! (Polling is at University Centre and MacLaurin A wing foyer


Step two: Come to the party!
Starting at 5pm at IQ Bistro in the Grad Centre!!
DJ Westcoast Convolution will provide the tunes, there will be cool prizes, and of course, you can enjoy the friendly camaraderie of your fellow grad students before the 4-day weekend.

Step three: Be first to hear the referendum results!
Referendum ballots are being counted (at a secret location) starting 5pm Thursday. We will hear the results first.. and then toast the referendum process!

Lots of referendum websites

As mentioned previously, students at Simon Fraser (including grads) and Kwantlen University College are holding referenda on CFS membership this coming week.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Yes and No CFS Campaign websites launched

The NO (campaign to leave the CFS) and YES (campaign to stay) have had their websites approved by the Referendum Oversight Committee.

No Campaign:

Questions for the No side can be sent to Joe Kolthammer gssdcomm [at] or by phone cell 889-4134

The "Yes" campaign (campaign to stay with the CFS) website is here.

Also, you can contact the CFS yes side with questions etc at campaigns [at]

General information on the referendum (rules, where to vote, etc) is here.

For those who prefer to read about the synchrotron there is also this site.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Other referenda?

You may have heard there are other students in BC holding referenda on CFS membership. This is true. They are Simon Fraser Students Society (which currently includes both grad students and undergraduates) and Kwantlen College Students Association.

Cape Breton University Students Union has also posted a notice of referendum for next week.

Referendum update

Some news on the referendum on CFS membership.

Referendum Oversight Committee meeting minutes from March 3 are now online and posted
outside the GSS office.

Campaign period has now begun (until March 20), and graduate students interested in campaigning can join a campaign team via contacts here. It is important to remember that campaigners must register with the campaign teams prior to campaigning.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Building expansion goes ahead

At the February 26 Special General Meeting, grad students held a two hour discussion about options for expansion.
Architect Carl Peterson was there to answer questions about his proposed design, and then members of the GSS exec fielded questions about financing options.
In the end, members have decided to expand the kitchen, as well as make some minor changes to the offices, but not to create the student lounge proposed in the expansion plan.
The executive was empowered to borrow up to $100,000 if needed, but the goal is to pay for the rennovation out of existing savings.
Full minutes will follow soon.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

2008 Federal Budget through a grad student lense

Here are some 2008 Federal Budget key points for graduate students:

Canadian Graduate Scholarship: Creation of 500 $50,000 scholarships for top PhD students--both Canadian and international
250 $6,000 scholarships to help Canadian graduate students study abroad for one semester
$80 million increase for granting agencies

For the profs, but these funds often support grad student funding: 20 new Canada Research Chairs worth $10 mill over 7 years each
$15 million for the indirect costs of research. Also--project specific funding including the synchrotron at U Saskatchewan. And the Genome project. I love the synchrotron, although I don't know what it does, it sounds cool!!!

For the undergrads: a new grants program replaces the Millenium Scholarship Program with income contingent grants that are more predictable.

<----- This is the synchrotron.

This article from The Fulcrum is a good summary of key criticisms of the new budget's agenda on post-secondary education.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has issued a press release in reaction to the buget announcement (below) which details concerns about targetting research money.

Attention News/Education Editors:
Federal budget: little on offer for post-secondary education

OTTAWA, Feb. 26 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Association of University
Teachers (CAUT) says today's budget lacks any coherent vision for
post-secondary education and research.
CAUT executive director Jim Turk says that aside from the creation of the
Canada Student Grant Program, the budget ignores the most pressing needs of
universities and colleges.
"The new grant program announced today is a step in the right direction,
but by simply consolidating money from existing programs it means there's no
real new support for students in the current year."
Turk emphasizes that the government is providing no new money for
post-secondary education through the Canada Social Transfer, funding that
would have allowed universities and colleges to make education more affordable
and ensure that staff and students have access to labs, library resources and
other facilities.
The budget announces the creation of a small program for 500 Canadian and
international students. Named after Georges Vanier, the Canada Graduate
Scholarships will provide up to $50,000 a year for no more than three years.
"While we welcome the new program, we can't ignore the fact that there is
otherwise no increase in funding for Canada's hundreds of thousands of
undergraduate students in this budget," Turk says. "The budget fails to deal
with the real problem: the need for more core funding."
The budget proposes a modest increase in federal funding for the indirect
costs of university research. There are also small increases for the federal
granting agencies, but the new money is heavily targeted to priority areas set
by the government.
"We appreciate the new research funding, but we're extremely concerned
that the federal government is increasingly targeting research funding rather
than allowing the priorities to be established by the research community,"
Turk says.

CAUT is the national voice of more than 57,000 academic and general staff
in universities and colleges across the country.

Monday, February 25, 2008

GSS in the news re: referendum on CFS membership

The Muse, a student paper from Memorial U in Newfoundland quoted GSS Director of Communications, Joe Kolthammer, on the CFS referendum on whether UVIC grad students will stay in the CFS last week. Read it online here:

In related news (but not quoting anyone from the GSS) Camosun College Students Union has voted to devote money and resources to the referendum campaign on the pro-CFS side. It was reported in York's student paper, The Excaliber, here:

The referendum on whether UVIC grad students wish to remain part of the CFS is being held March 18, 29, 20 at UVIC and information on the process can be found here:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Building Expansion SGM--NEW MOTIONS and UPDATED PLAN

After discussions with our auditors regarding our initial plan and one
more week spent with our planning, the Executive have some revised motions
and a revised building expansion plan for your consideration at the
Special General Meeting.

We are seeking your assistance in letting people know about these changes.

The main change is that the auditors have recommended paying off
expansion longer, and not using as much of the Rainy Day Building Fund
for the first payment, thus leaving more funds available as a
contingency.Although this increases interest costs over our original
proposal, it reduces the risk to the society. This proposal would
increase the money borrowed to $400,000 maximum. The original motion and
the new one are both on the motions page (see link below).

The executive also costed some additional options for comparison at the
meeting in response to feedback from members--there are now three options
reflected in the expansion plan (link below): Option 1: total renovation
as in architect's proposal, Option 2: Only renovating the kitchen, and
Option 3: only adding the Student common room addition (and doing the
required kitchen upgrade without expansion). The budget and
costs/benefits for each option is listed with each in the proposal

Note that the motion for borrowing $400,000 applies to Option 1, the
others require less borrowing (or none).

All this information can be found through the GSS website page on the
special general meeting.
Please have a look here, and encourage others in your department to have
a look too!

*** it was pointed out to me that in the 2nd last slide of the "plan" I
did not update the total expense when copying the slide. This will be
corrected, but for now, please note the error!***

I hope you are having a good reading break. Feel free to send any
questions. The office is closed but I am around. gssmgr (at)


Monday, February 18, 2008

Just so you know...

I plan to get all of these things for the IQ. They are simply too sensible to ignore.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Upcoming important GSS decisions! Building, CFS, budget, elections!

1. NOTICE OF Special General Meeting considering expansion of Halpern
Graduate Centre

Date: Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Time: 5pm
Location: Grad Centre Room 112-108

All graduate students are encouraged to attend with valid student card.

Special GM Agenda

1. Approval of agenda
2. Approval of Building Expansion Plan

If approved, an expansion of the Halpern Centre could proceed Summer 2008.
Proposal includes creation of dedicated grad student lounge, expansion of
kitchen and a minor office renovation.

If approved, financing options could include one or a combination of the
-borrowing from UVic**
-re-distribution of a portion of Capital Fund membership fees to the
Building Fund
-establishment of a line of credit**

Architect’s diagrams, financing options, and sustainability plan for
the proposal will be posted at and outside the GSS
office by February 13, 2008.

SGM followed immediately by a regular meeting of Grad Council.

**requires special resolution (75% members present in favour.)


Referendum on Defederation from Canadian Federation of Students:
March 18-19-20. Have your say on whether we should stay in the CFS.
NOTE: There will be NO WEB VOTE on this referendum.
Instead, there will be polling at two on campus polling
stations from 9-5 each day. Polling station at the University
Centre has been confirmed, but the other is TBA.
This referendum is governed by CFS Bylaws found here.
For ongoing updates on the CFS referendum watch this site for

GSS Elections: Nominations: March 10 to March 17.
Voting: March 26, 27.
Your chance to get involved in the GSS and work on
everything from finances to special events to the restaurant!

GSS Semi-Annual General Meeting:
Tuesday April 1, 2008, 5pm in the Grad Centre.
This meeting passes the budget for the upcoming year,
ratifies the election, and receives the report of the
outgoing Executive Board.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sara Spencer Foundation Research Awards

Graduate students undertaking research in the applied social sciences and related fields are eligible to apply for financial support from the
Sara Spencer Foundation. Maximum amount of an award: $3,000.

-  Awards are restricted to projects that relate to the Capital Region District (C.R.D.).
-  The research must be applied in nature and related to a thesis or dissertation.
-  The research must be approved by the student’s supervisory committee. 

Please submit your application using the form available as a Word document at:

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

CFS referendum question, voting method determined

Graduate students at UVIC are going to the polls March 18, 19, and 20 2008 to consider whether to maintain membership in the Canadian Federation of Students.

The Referendum Oversight Committee made the following decisions in their February 4 meeting.

The Question:

The referendum question will be:

Are you in favour of maintaining membership in the Canadian Federation of Students?


Method of voting:
The referendum is governed by CFS Bylaws and is overseen by a referendum oversight committee as per those bylaws.

GSS members should note there will be no web vote in the CFS defederation referendum. Voting will be done at two on-campus polling stations.

Proposed location for the polling stations is the University Centre and the MacPherson Library foyer, but this is subject to bookings so watch for final notice on this on.

Keep up to date
News updates and information on the referendum, referendum rules, etc. will be posted here.

Schadenfreude pie! Pure genius

I am already schaden-scheming to make this.

To paraphrase Toronto's poet laureate (and Mr. Christie book award winner!) Dennis Lee, "Schadenfreude pie, Schadenfreude pie, if I don't get me some I think I'm gonna die."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Referendum Oversight Minutes posted

Minutes of the first CFS Referendum Oversight Committee meeting on January 24 have been posted on the GSS website. Have a look!

UPDATE: Feb 4 minutes are now up too.

Monday, January 28, 2008

UK calls for profs to watch students for extremism

An interesting (Ok, terrifying!) debate is happening in the UK where some MPs are moving to have profs be watchdogs for extremism in students. Profs aren't pleased. This is from the Guardian. Links to full text below.

Call for campus extremism watch The UK government is encouraging university chiefs to watch out for extremists on campuses and report suspicious people to the authorities.

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly said they should protect free thinking but inform police of "unacceptable behaviour" by students or staff.

As she spoke Home Secretary Charles Clarke was giving details of proposed measures against glorifying terrorism.

There has been concern that ministers are seeking to "criminalise thought".

Free expression

Ms Kelly was addressing the annual conference of Universities UK at their headquarters in Tavistock Square, London - where a bomb tore apart a double-decker bus on 7 July.

She told the vice-chancellors the "moderate majority" must be protected from harassment, intimidation or pressure and be free to study.

Higher education institutions must continue to "teach people to think for themselves and express themselves and to listen to and consider the opinions of others".

But they must also identify and confront unacceptable behaviour.


read the whole story here:

read about University professors responses here:

Friday, January 25, 2008

organic latte

Ok, so I just had an organic fair trade coffee latte with organic hazelnut flavour at Finnerty's... Sometimes UVic does things right! Now.. if they could just get organic milk from the local dairy co-op...
It took me back to my youth in Courtenay. I once (this is true) had an organic fair trade soy latte with non-bee-exploitive honey. Now, out-hippy me on THAT, I dare you!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Have you ever wanted to peek inside an author's head?

Now is your chance!


Be a voyeur as the words spill out onto the screen on Saturday, Jan. 26 at the University of Victoria’s first-ever “Write Here in Plain Sight” (WHIPS) event. Six UVic researchers and local columnist Jack Knox of the Times Colonist will write in full public view for three hours in separate rooms, with each word, every typo and any moments of writer’s block projected onto large screens behind them. The public is invited to observe and ask questions as the writers narrate the research and writing process. The WHIPS concept was introduced by Dalhousie University in March 2007. This year, UVic will join Dalhousie in a simultaneous bi-coastal sequel to last year’s popular event. The West Coast session has been organized by UVic’s Writing Centre, the Student Transition Centre and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

       “This innovative experiment is a bright, wide window into how writers write,” says Dr. Gweneth Doane, associate dean of UVic’s Faculty of Graduate Studies. “Watching a process in action is one of the best ways to learn. And that’s what we are offering to our scholars, students, budding authors and any other interested members of the public who want to attend this free session.”

       WHIPS — Write Here in Plain Sight at UVic

       Saturday, 26 January 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
       Dr. Yvonne Coady, UVic Computer Science
       Dr. Mary Elizabeth Leighton, UVic English
       Dr. Wolff-Michael Roth, UVic Curriculum Studies
       Dr. Lisa Surridge, UVic English
       Dr. Holly Tuokko, UVic Psychology
       Ben Chou, UVic Centre on Aging
       Jack Knox, Times Colonist
       David Strong Building, rooms 103, 118, 122, 126, 128, 130
       Admission is free on a drop-in basis.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

CFS Referendum Updates

Reformation information website
The GSS has established a website to house information on the upcoming referendum on whether to leave the CFS.

The website is a neutral space meant to keep students appraised of the workings of the referendum oversight committee and thus the rules of the campaign. It will likely link to online campaign material for both sides when available.

Referendum oversight committee
The process of the referendum is a bit convoluted. The GSS served the required 6 months notice, and now a Referendum Oversight Committee has been formed. I am calling it "ROC", affectionately.

The ROC is a 50-50 committee made up of two delegates elected by the CFS and two delegates elected by the GSS. The committee is:

From the GSS:
Nicole O'Byrne (Law) and Takuto Shiota (Philosophy)

From the CFS:
Lucy Watson (Campaign Staff) and Ben Lewis (CFS National Treasurer)

GSS ROC reps "arms length"
The GSS Exec has decided, in consultation with O'Byrne and Shiota, that the GSS delegates to the ROC will be "arms length" from the GSS. The GSS Exec felt it was important for GSS members from either (or no) side of the debate have representation on the committee, and the focus of the ROC be on establishing fair referendum procedures.

Since the GSS Executive has formally supported the petition to leave the CFS, the formal independence of the GSS delegates to the ROC formal was especially important.

GSS Office space to be "campaign neutral"
The GSS executive has also designated the GSS Office as "campaign neutral". All materials related to referendum campaigning will be kept out of Grad Centre 102 to ensure all grad students feel welcome in their student union office with questions about referendum rules and processes.

Office Space Campaign Launched!

CUPE 4163 and the GSS have launched a joint petition campaign, and the petition is here in PDF format.
grad office street sign
This was circulated at the Grad Council meeting and folks are circulating them in their department and returning them to the GSS or CUPE 4163 offices.  We are also asking grad reps in departments that are moving office to take inventory (count the offices) before and after their move so we can assess the actual net change due to renovations effectively.
If you don't have access to copying or printing, we are also printing copies at the GSS for you to pick up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Clubs Council to vote on grad student clubs funding

At the January 22 meeting of UVSS (UVic's undergrad society) Clubs Council, clubs council will be voting on whether the accept policy changes regarding graduate student members of clubs. Grad students currently pay fees for clubs but are still restricted from starting a new club on their own. This is due to UVSS policy pre-dating the GSS referendum to pay fees into the clubs funds. This earlier policy ensured 2/3 of the members of any clubs were undergraduate students, as undergraduate students were the only ones funding clubs at the time.

In this meeting, UVSS Clubs Council will decide whether to allow both grads and undergrads to start a club--which would pave the way for clubs previously rejected from receiving clubs funding because they had all or majority graduate students initiating the club.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Casino Night seeking volunteers!

The GSS is hosting our annual Casino Night, featuring blackjack, poker, roulette, and even a "Big 2" table.
Are you a card shark? Roulette wheel spinning officianado?  Then I have the volunteer opportunity for you!

We are looking for some folks to spend an hour as a dealer at our party. The event was really fun last year. Entrance is by donation to a graduate student emergency bursary... and no real money is used!

The GSS supplies "gss bucks" for everyone to gamble with, and at the end of the night you can use your "GSS bucks" to bid on some fun auction prizes! This year our theme is celebrating Chinese New Year, so it will be an extra lucky night for everyone!

Sooo.... please let us know if you want to deal in by emailing to volunteer!

Tuesday, February 5 from 6:30 - 9 pm
IQ Bistro, Grad Centre

please rsvp (so we know we get enough decks of cards, etc!):

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Co-operating for Local Food Security: The Story of Saanich Organics

The BC Institute for Co-operative Studies presents our  2008 BCICS/Canadian Social Economy Hub Winter Speakers Series  This series features presentations by UVic academics, graduate students, visiting faculty, and practitioners discussing topics related to Co-operatives and the Social Economy. These presentations are free and open to all members of the public and university community.  ******************************************************************* Co-operating for Local Food Security: The Story of Saanich Organics Robin Tunnicliffe, Graduate Student, University of Victoria  Southern Vancouver Island is blessed with a rich resource of agricultural land; however, farming is a threatened activity due to increased demands of a growing population and inadequate support through public policy. Nevertheless, there is an enthusiastic mix of small and organic farmers in the region whose efforts to steward the land have been welcomed by local residents and promoted through culinary tourism. The story of Saanich Organics provides a look at the co-operative efforts of three female farmers as they work to establish a thriving, small-scale agricultural enterprise.  Time: Thursday, January 24th, 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Location: University of Victoria David Strong Building, Room C126  ******************************************************************  Coming up next…  Mutualization of Public Institutions Jorge Sousa, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Alberta Time: Thursday, February 7th, 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Location: University of Victoria David Strong Building, Room C126  Bridging the Gap: Between the Ideal and Reality in the Governance of Non-Profit Organizations Vic Murray, Adjunct Professor, School of Public Administration, University of Victoria Time: Thursday, March 6th 1:00 - 2:00 pm Location: TBA  For more information, visit our website at:  Or contact Sol Kinnis at: 721-8751 or by email at:    Sol Kinnis, Resource Co-ordinator and Community Outreach BC Institute for Co-operative Studies  Room 109, University House 2 University of Victoria PO Box 3060, Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 3R4  Ph: 250.721.8751 F: 250.472.4541 email:  The Saxena Library of Co-operative Studies is open 9:00am - 4:30pm Monday

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Referendum Oversight Committee

The Canadian Federation of Students bylaws set down rules for a referendum on CFS membership, including the creation of a Referendum Oversight Committee. This committee is made up of two members elected by the CFS National and two members elected by the Graduate Students ' Society Executive Board.

The GSS has elected Nicole O'Byrne, graduate student in Law and Takuto Shiota, graduate student in Philosophy as the GSS representatives to the Referendum Oversight Committee.

Watch this space and the GSS website for updates on the referendum process and news of the CFS delegates to this committee.

Scholarships to study overseas

The deadline is approaching if you wish to study under foreign government awards in Chile, Colombia, France, Korea, Russia, Philippines (for academic year 2008-2009) and Mexico (for academic year 2009-2010)

The deadline for applications for Canadians to study overseas under the Foreign Government Awards Program is January 28, 2008.

Further information is available at:

Friday, January 11, 2008

everything you wanted to know about the CFS but were afraid to ask

Infamous (at least amongst geeky student union types like me) student blogger Titus Gregory has scanned an compiled a complete history of Canadian Federation of Students AGM minutes and errata for your viewing pleasure. He has some of the audits and budgets in there but not all, as well as some executive reports. Check it out at:

A recent motion at their AGM directed the CFS to post their governing documents on line, which is great news for members that aren't hanging out amongst the binders and files of their student union at all hours. However, I do find it hard to get to the documents on the CFS site (I can't find a place where it is linked to the main page) and also by using Google, so for GSS members I posted a link on our GSS site in the "Campaigns and Governance" section here ... which links to the CFS documents here:

Fascinating, I know! Ok back to becoming a YoYo Master (see below). Expecting to get my YYM this year!

UVic's English Student's Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference:

Talking out the Trash

We are eager for paper proposals for our INTER-DISCIPLINARY graduate student conference organized by the English Department at the University of Victoria, to be held March 14-15, 2008.

The theme for the 2008 conference is “Talking out the Trash.” We are interested in papers that investigate how trash becomes treasure – or the reverse – how the once salvaged discard can become rare, and how rarity adds value. Please visit the conference website for more specific topic suggestions.

WE NEED MORE SUBMISSIONS FROM UVIC STUDENTS. We have had some interest from students at other universities, but are hoping to see more work from our own! This is a great opportunity for UVic graduate students to get some reading experience for larger conferences. If you have a paper that you think fits this year's conference theme in any way, please BE BRAVE and submit your work for consideration.

Proposals of 250 words, including your name, address, telephone number, email address, and university affiliation, should be sent to tst(at) by January 15, 2008. WE ARE CURRENTLY LOOKING TO EXTEND THIS DEADLINE & WILL SEND THE NEW DATE WHEN AVAILABLE. Only email submissions will be accepted.

For further information please see the conference website at <>.

If you weren't so busy studying...

... you could be a YoYo Master by now!!!

Yo Yo Guy 2007

Monday, January 7, 2008

Centre for Studies in Religion & Society 2008/09 Grad Student Fellowships

The Centre for Studies in Religion and Society invites applications from UVic graduate students for up to five one-year fellowship appointments commencing September, 2008.
Ian H. Stewart Graduate Student Fellowships (3)
Vandekerkhove Family Trust Graduate Student Fellowships (2)


The fellowships are valued at $5000 each and include office space at the CSRS.


The deadline for applications is February 1, 2008.


For more information, visit

Upcoming issues for grad students at UVIC

At the beginning of each semester I start thinking about what the key priorities will be at the GSS office. I am always a bit overwhelmed at the broad range of subjects I am expecting to deal with, and a bit nervous I am missing something. So here is my list, and I am wondering if others see some I don't?

GSS members have some major decisions to make about our internal affairs.

Building expansion:
Should we expand our building, and if so, how much should we invest in expansion (and how will we get the money?!) Watch for a Special General Meeting in February to look at architects plans and to give your executive board direction on what you want your building to be like, and how it should be financed.

CFS Membership:
March 18-20 graduate students will go to the polls an decide on whether to continue membership in the Canadian Federation of Students. The referendum will be governed by CFS bylaws so the GSS so my big concern at the moment is whether our familiar processes can be used--most of our members use web vote in GSS referenda and elections, but it remains to be seen whether the CFS will agree to that process.

Beyond our student union, grad students also continue to face many other issues in their studies:

Office space continues to be a big concern for students on campus. Perhaps the engineers, with so much experience stuffing themselves into beetles could offer advice on sharing an office with 10 other students (and two desks!)

Expansion of the graduate student population through new provincial funding also poses some problems for our members--what if there aren't enough resources in your department already, and now your population is doubling? Some students are worried they may never find a supervisor.

Funding. After much pressure from both students and university administration, the BC government created a graduate scholarship program in 2007 and redesigned some others, like MITACS. Great news! But is the program design working for graduate students? I would like to hear more from students who are involved in the various funding programs established this year.

Most frustrating to me is that fellowships administration continue to be a problem... and so we continue to be a thorn in the side of the administration. Check out our original report on fellowship policy if you don't know about this issue.

For many students, poverty, housing, immigrant/international students rights and lack of adequate childcare are problems faced in their lives outside of school--but that cause problems academically. Generally support for these campaigns comes in the form of writing letters in support of agencies lobbying effots. For example, the GSS has been active in supporting the BC childcare campaign.

Academic integrity

This article in University Affairs looks at problems of academic integrity--taking credit for others work, research integrity, influence of funders, plagiarism... how often is it happening at Canadian Universities, and what can be done?

An interesting issue!