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."