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TABLE OF CONTENTS who we are 1 what we’ve accomplished


plans for the future




Dear Fellow Graduate Students, I want to begin by thanking you for taking the time to read the Annual Report. Your Graduate Students’ Association works hard on your behalf to support the important role graduate students play at the University of Calgary. I would like to thank all of our gracious volunteers who made all of our accomplishments possible. Our student volunteers put in an unbelievable number of hours vetting processes and policies, organizing and producing events, and representing their fellow students in the governance of the organization. In my role as President, I was able to speak and meet with the GSAs from universities across the country, and I can tell you our experience as an Association is second to none thanks to our volunteers. If you volunteered for the GSA in any capacity this year, many thanks for your contributions to the experience of graduate students. If you were the beneficiary of our volunteers’ efforts, please take the time to thank them on behalf of the graduate student community. This year was packed with milestones, many of which you can read about in this Report. From the negotiation of the Collective Agreement to recruiting and bringing on board a new Executive Director (Jason Unsworth, and a special thank you to you), my team managed a number of significant challenges over the year. Much of my satisfaction in my role as President came from leading our exceptional team, and I would like to thank Sam Hossack, Erica McLachlan, Danica MacDonald, and Blake Lewis for their efforts over the year. I would also like to take the opportunity to express my faith in the new team, led by Sam Hossack as our new President. They will continue to serve our community well. A final thank you to the dedicated staff of the GSA. The contributions of both the office staff and the staff of the Last Defence Lounge contribute meaningfully to the progress the GSA has been able to make to improve graduate student life at the University of Calgary. All the best,

GSA President, 2015-16

who we are

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MIKE WEBSTER served two years as an executive member of

the Graduate Students Association (GSA) – Vice President Finance and Services in 2014-2015 and President in 2015-2016. He is a passionate advocate for graduate students and sat as an executive member of the Alberta Graduate Provincial Advocacy Council (ab-GPAC) this year. Mike is a PhD candidate in the Department of English working on his dissertation in Digital Humanities. Mike is very proud of the work that the executive team and staff put into the development of the GSA’s strategic plan.


joined the GSA in May 2015 and served as Vice President Academic until February 2016. He dedicated his time to addressing student academic concerns, helping with the administration of awards, grants, and bursaries, and initializing the negotiations for the Collective Agreement. Blake is a Master’s student in Linguistics, studying the syntactic and semantic interfaces with a focus on Latin, Greek, and First Nations languages.


Erica spent the 2015-16 year refining the position of Vice President External, which was introduced in 2014. Erica advocated on behalf of the graduate student membership to all levels of government through her position with the GSA as well as her position as Chair of the Alberta Graduate Provincial Advocacy Council (ab-GPAC). Erica is working on her Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies, researching Hinduism in India and the effects of a particular law in the Indian Penal Code. Erica enjoyed having the ability to be challenged with her work at the GSA and the opportunity to expand her skills. Graduate Students’ Association Annual Report | 2

“It has been a great honour to represent graduate students in my role as President. I have been able to see the commitment of graduate students, administrators, faculty, staff, and community members to make the University of Calgary one of Canada’s leading universities.” - Mike Webster, 2015-2016 President

DANICA MACDONALD has been involved with the GSA since 2008. For the past two years she served as the Vice President Student Life. Danica introduced many student engagement initiatives such as GSA hosted events, day trips around Alberta, trivia and board game nights at the Last Defence Lounge, and discounted event ticket sales for graduate students. Danica is a PhD candidate in Linguistics. She is working on a dissertation in historical linguistics, morphology, and language processing focusing on number-marking in Korean. This year Danica focused on creating greater student engagement through a variety of events and activities. She also contributed significantly to the negotiations of the 2016 – 2018 Collective Agreement.

SAM HOSSACK oversaw the GSA and Last Defence Lounge

finances as Vice President Finance and Services in 2015 - 2016. Through dash-boarding and detailed presentations, Sam ensured the GSA was transparent to its members in all of its business operations. Sam is part of the Centre for Military, Security, and Strategic Studies where she researches the use of intelligence in policy making, using the comparative case studies of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the American experience in 2001. Sam describes her time at the GSA this past year as an “incredible experience and learning opportunity” and is especially proud of the introduction of the Mentorship Ambassadors Program.

what we’ve accomplished

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REBRANDING At the GSA’s Annual General Meeting on September 29, a fresh, new logo and a general rebranding of the Association was introduced. It was important to include the membership in the rebranding process and through a logo design contest, we received 61 student designed submissions. The submissions were narrowed down to 5 by a committee of Robyn Dinnadge of the Students’ Union, Veronica Vincent of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, Jennifer Sowa of Libraries and Cultura Resources, Melina Cusano of Libraries and Cultural Resources, Megan Kurcwal of Dinos Athletics, Vishu Mahajan of University Relations, Katherine Lidgren of the Graduate Students’ Association, Andrew Smith of the Graduate Students Association, and Mike Webster of the Graduate Students Association. The final design was voted on by graduate students and the winner was University of Calgary graduate student, Hilda Leon, and two of her colleagues, Vicky Hernandez and Carlos Ramirez. The new logo is clean, bright, and modern, and makes a connection with the University of Calgary. The logo is a visual representation of the resiliency and adaptability of the GSA – always evolving to serve our members in the best way possible.

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STRATEGIC PLAN The board of directors worked with the staff of the GSA to produce a strategic plan to act as a guide that will help the GSA navigate the next three executive terms from 2016-2019. Through this work the Association proudly unveiled the following vision, mission, commitments, and values that support the GSA’s mandate of students supporting students:

Vision We will be a recognized leader in graduate student representation.

Mission We provide a strong foundation for our members and community by offering valued services and programs that support and empower graduate students during and after their academic endeavors. We create an environment built on fiscal sustainability, social engagement, and effective representation.

Commitments • Resilience - To be organizationally

sustainable by being fiscally accountable, environmentally responsible, and providing a strong foundation of effective governance.

• Student Engagement - Using effective communication to engage our members and the wider community, to create awareness, to advocate to government, and to offer programs and services that contribute to overall student success.

Values • Communication - Achieving goals

through effective communication and teamwork.

• Collaboration - Determining a deeper understanding through co-operation.

• Accountability - Using transparency to create understanding.

• Adaptability - Continuous learning, improvements, and assessments.

• Legacy - Creating lasting memories.

• Organizational Learning - To continually seek and utilize the most effective ways to represent graduate students.

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STUDENT ADVOCACY The provincial advocacy group that the GSA belongs to, the Alberta Graduate Provincial Advocacy Council (ab-GPAC), accomplished a number of projects to establish a solid foundation for the organization, including:

• Developing and finalizing policies such as a Code of Conduct, Policy development, including Financial and Fee Policies, and developing a strategic framework

• Providing two budget submissions for the 2015 and 2016 provincial budgets

• Meeting with officials from the Ministry of Advanced Education and the Minister of Advanced Education, Marlin Schmidt

In the coming months, the Council will be:

• Submitting a proposal to establish an

arms-length organization to gather data on postsecondary in Alberta

• Creating a three-year strategic plan for the organization

Mike Webster (President), Erica McLachlan (Vice President External), Sam Hossack (Vice President Finance and Services) (Fall) and Jason Ribeiro, a graduate student in the Werklund School of Education (Winter), held executive positions on the board of ab-GPAC.

• Advocating on behalf of graduate students in the province, particularly related to proposed amendments to provincial labour legislation

• Successfully holding the organization’s first Annual General Meeting

FEDERAL ELECTION RESULTS VIEWING PARTY In its second year, the Vice President External portfolio took shape and developed priorities. One of those priorities was to increase engagement with students in regards to all levels of government and political issues that affect them. On October 15, Canadians went to the polls to vote in the 42nd federal election. The External Relations Standing Committee of the GSA hosted a federal election results viewing party at the Last Defence Lounge (LDL) the evening of the election. The event attracted nearly 200 graduate students, faculty, and staff demonstrating the importance of the election to the UCalgary community. The event’s success indicates the in-depth understanding of the graduate community about the importance of this election: it not only impacted education and affordability, but all aspects of graduate student life. Each party campaigned on plans for job creation, immigration for international students, access to health and child care, strategies to boost the | 7

economy, and initiatives to remain environmentally sustainable. All of these topics touch our membership and those around them: the federal election results viewing party was a testament to our community’s motivation to stay informed and engaged.

AWARDS, BURSARIES, & GRANTS The resiliency of graduate students is of utmost importance to the GSA, especially financial sustainability. Grants, bursaries, and awards are available to our members that are undertaking professional development, undergoing financial strain, or are exemplary volunteers in the community. The Vice President Academic oversees the GSA Awards chair who, along with a team of volunteers evaluates each award, bursary and grant application that is received by the GSA. Here is a summary of the funding provided to our GSA members this past year:

Professional Development Grants were increased to $750 from $500 and the Group Project Grants and the Margo Husby Memorial Scholarship was increased to $1500 from $1000

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AWARDS GALA Graduate studies is not a solitary process. It requires encouragement and support. The GSA recognized these supports, as well as exemplary graduate students, and the GSA’s volunteers at an awards gala on April 7 in the Energy Environment Experiential Learning Building. Student nominated awards were given out for excellence in administrative support, administration, graduate assisting, mentorship, and supervision. The following is a list of the winners of the GSA Excellence Awards:

• Excellence in Administrative Support: Lina

Girgis, Student Services Administrator of the GSA and Tracy Korsgaard Graduate Program Coordinator in the Department of Physics and Astronomy (Honourable Mention)

• Excellence in Graduate Administration:

Dru Marshall, Provost and Vice-President (Academic) and Lisa Hughes, Associate Dean (Policy) of the Faculty of Graduate Studies (Honourable Mention)

• Graduate Assistant Excellence: Victor Bedoya,

graduate student in the Department of French, Italian and Spanish, and Tiffany Dohorty, Ana Litviniuc, and Miranda MacCallum, graduate students in the Department of Sociology

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• Excellence in Graduate Mentorship: Stephanie Coward, graduate student in the Department of Community Health Sciences and Dennis Storoshenko, Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics, Languages and Culture (Honourable Mention)

• Excellence in Graduate Supervision: Nigel

Shrive, Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Heather Jamnicsky, Assistant Professor in the Cumming School of Medicine (Honourable Mention), and Aritha van Herk, Professor in the Department of English (Honourable Mention)

In 2015, the GSA introduced an award to recognize outstanding graduate student leadership. The award, which includes a scholarship valued at $5000, is evaluated by a committee external to the GSA. The following individuals sat on the committee for the final selection of the award: •

Dr. Susan Barker – Vice Provost Student Experience

Dr. Amanda Pounder – Faculty of Graduate Studies Awards Committee

Gareth McVicar – Leadership and Student Engagement Office

This year there were seven finalists. Fartoon Siad of the Cumming School of Medicine (Community Health Sciences) received the 2016 GSA Leadership Award at the gala. Fartoon is a second year Master of Science student specializing in population and public health. Her leadership activities lead her both on and off campus with activities such as her role as co-chair for the Campus Alberta Student Conference on Health, and community health education workshops that serve to empower diverse populations. An award for GSA Lifetime Achievement was presented to Haley Vecchiarelli for the many years she has volunteered with the GSA. Haley is a PhD candidate in Neuroscience. She has been involved in the GSA as a Graduate Representative Council representative and served at the chair of the Student Experience Standing Committee in 2015-2016. In 2016-2017 she will be the co-chair of the Newcomers and International Students Committee. Haley has been an invaluable advocate for graduate students by promoting GSA services and the opportunities it provides its members. Many former executives of the GSA attended the gala including: Franco Rizzutti (President, 2011-2013), Joey Windsor (Vice President Student Life 2011-2012, Vice President Academic 2012-2013), Dr. David Bird (Vice President Academic 1999-2000, president 2001-2002), Dr. Tongjie Zhang (Vice President Finance and Services 2011-2012).

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FR QUALITY MONEY The GSA funded many innovative, thoughtful, and impactful projects this year, including 27 single-year projects and 19 multi-year projects, that provide quality experiences and improvements for graduate students. These student-led endeavors exemplified the pillars of the Eyes High strategy and the values of the GSA. In 2015-2016 the GSA contributed over $129,000 to 25 new projects that impacted graduate students. Here are a few of the project highlights that Quality Money helped to make happen:

Affordable Brain Food This project developed a recipe book aimed specifically at graduate students, who often have such hectic schedules that make it difficult to focus on healthy eating.

GradFest On September 25 and April 13, the GSA hosted GradFest at the Last Defence Lounge. The beginning and end of year parties gave graduate students an alternative to undergraduate focused events such as Bermuda Shorts Day. Over 240 students attended each event, which featured a free barbeque, a chance to win prizes, and the opportunity to mingle with other graduate students.

Community Outreach and Volunteer Program Community Outreach and Volunteer Program mission statement: “The goal of the Community Outreach & Volunteer Program (COVP) at the University of Calgary is to provide graduate students with a diverse array of opportunities to give back to their community through volunteering and public service. In so doing, the COVP strives to increase student awareness of important social issues and cultivate a serviceoriented mentality within our university community.�

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RONT Women’s Leadership Conference The Women’s Leadership Conference, held annually since 2013, gives female-identified students the opportunity for leadership and professional development. The Women’s Resource Centre Awards of Excellence are also presented at the conference and are given to women that display wisdom, resilience, and compassion.

Jorge Cham Talk The GSA hosted a talk by Jorge Cham, creator of PhD Comics, and screened his film PhD Movie 2 on February 25. Over 200 students attended the event and were able to meet Jorge Cham following his presentation and receive his autograph.

Graduate Student Speaker Series This project created a way for graduate students who participated in the series to speak about their research to a general audience in non-academic settings across Calgary.

NEADS Workshop On April 1, 2016, the University of Calgary and the National Education Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) hosted the workshop Breaking It Down: Dialogues on Removing Barriers for People with Disabilities in the Workplace at Hotel Alma. The workshop is aimed at creating an open dialogue between employers and students with disabilities on the obstacles surrounding the job search. The data collected from the workshops will be used to assemble a web portal to continue the knowledge exchange between employers and students.

Chemistry Alumni Day The Chemistry Alumni Day, organized by the Department of Chemistry and the Chemistry Graduate Student Association (CGSA) was a forum to build connections with the Chemistry department, alumni, and professionals in the science industries of Alberta.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT The Community Engagement Committee (CEC) was established as a subcommittee of the Student Experience Standing Committee (SESC) during the 2015-2016 academic year. The goal of the CEC is to provide graduate students with a diverse array of opportunities to give back to their community through volunteering and public service. The main avenue for accomplishing this goal is to organize group volunteer events. The CEC strives to increase student awareness of important social issues and cultivate a service-oriented mentality within our university community. The CEC had three major goals for the 2015-2016 academic year: 1) establish contacts with local organizations in order to create a list of potential volunteer opportunities for graduate students; 2) organize two group volunteer events per semester; 3) develop at least one long-term volunteer initiative. The CEC facilitated 8 events this year that connected graduate students with the Calgary community:

• Habitat for Humanity team build • participated in the construction of houses for local families in need

• Dinner Service at The Drop-In Centre • plated and served meals to clients at The DI, a local homeless shelter

• Stephen’s Backpacks – Christmas Backpacks • assisted with sorting toy donations for Christmas Backpacks program

• Resume workshop at The DI • gave feedback on resumes and provided mock interviews for clients

• Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids • cooked and packed lunches for low-income children

• Calgary Food Bank • sorted food donations • Children’s Cottage Society • sanitized toys at children’s crisis nursery

• Habitat for Humanity ReStore Group Shift • assisted with

organizing inventory, warehouse work, and cleaning at ReStore facility

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GRADUATE STUDENT PHOTO CONTEST The yearly Photo Contest, collaboratively run by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and the GSA, is a way for students to creatively showcase their research. This year the contest had 21 submissions from students from a large array of faculties and disciplines. To participate, students submit their photo with an accompanying abstract that explains how the photo is connected to their research. Winners are announced at a special celebration at the Last Defence Lounge.

• 1st Place • $500 • Dong

Yan • BScH, MSc, and PhD Candidate in the Medical Science Program, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology




• 2nd Place • $300 • Shawn Brackett - Master of Arts in History

• 3rd Place • $100 •

Ramya Singh • PhD in Developmental Biology in the Biological Sciences Department, Faculty of Science

Following the contest, a Facebook photo album was displayed on the Faculty of Graduate Studies Facebook where votes for ‘People’s Choice’ photo were collected. This year the People’s Choice award went to Meghan Wick, MSc School of Applied Psychology with 156 likes for her photo.

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DEPARTMENTAL GRADUATE ASSOCIATIONS Departmental Graduate Associations (DGAs) are smaller student associations within graduate departments and programs that cater to the students in their particular field. They serve their students through representation to the GSA and University, social events, academic events, and professional development. The GSA contributes funding to the DGAs to encourage their activities and ensure their sustainability. Active DGAs and Consortiums registered with the GSA:

A Higher Clause Biochemistry and (Linguistics Molecular Biology Graduate Students Graduate Students Association) Association

Biological Sciences Graduate Students Association

Biomedical Engineering Graduate Students Association

Biomedical Technology Graduate Students Association

Cardiovascular Respiratory Students Association

Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Graduate Students Association

Community Health Sciences Student Executive

Computer Science Graduate Society

Council of Foothills

Economics Graduate Student Association

Chemistry Graduate Student Association

Civil Engineering Graduate Society

Communication Media and Film Departmental Graduate Association

Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Student Association

English Graduate Student Association

Environment Design Student Association

Gastrointestinal Graduate Student Association

Geography Graduate Students Association

Geomatics Graduate Group

German Studies Graduate Student Association

Graduate Anthropology and Archaeology Student Association

Graduate Association of Energy and Environment Specialization

Graduate Association of Geoscience Students

Graduate Engineering Students Consortium

Graduate Music Society

Graduate Programs in Education Student Association

Graduate University of Calgary Mathematics Society

Haskayne PhD Student Group

History Graduate Students Union

Immunology Graduate Association

Masters of Public Policy Students Association

MBA Society

Medical Science Graduate Student Association

Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Graduate Student Association

Hotchkiss Brain Institute Trainee Organization (Neuroscience)

Physics and Astronomy Departmental Graduate Association

Political Science Graduate Students Association

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Kinesiology Libation Bearers Graduate Students (Greek and Roman Association Studies)

Nursing Graduate Students Association

Philosophy Graduate Students Association


GRADUATE RESEARCH NETWORKS Graduate Research Networks (GRNs) are groups formed by graduate students to cultivate specific research interests and projects. The GSA financially supports GRNs in the same way as DGAs with yearly operational funding and event grants. Registered Graduate Research Networks:

• Calgary Optics & Photonics Student Society

• U of C Nanotechnology Group

• Chinese Scholarship Council Students and

• United Network of Arts

Scholars Association

• Engineering Education Students’ Society • Institute of Transportation Engineers Student Chapter

• The Urban Research Network

STUDENT ENGAGEMENT & ACTIVITIES DISCOUNTED TICKETS & EVENTS This year the GSA subsidized more than 2,250 event tickets, saving students money and creating a sense of community through group attended events. Here is a list of events graduate students were able to attend at a discount:

• • • • • • • •

Alberta Ballet Body Worlds Calgary Flames Calgary Stampeders Calgary Zoo Cineplex Movies Cirque De Soleil GlobalFest

• Globetrotters • Illuminasia • International Christmas Market at Spruce • • • •

Meadows Philharmonic Orchestra Teddy Bear Toss Telus Spark Science Centre Zoo Lights

The Events Committee and Newcomers and International Students Committees organized many events throughout the school year with high attendance and great feedback. These events helped to build a closer graduate community and improve the mental health of participants. The following provides a sample of the activities organized by these important committees:

• • • • • • •

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[GSA]2 Meet Up Bubble Soccer Calgary Pride Parade Corn Maze Curling Flying Squirrel Grinch Double Feature

• International Christmas Market at Spruce • • • • •

Meadows International Student Potluck International Students Tax Workshop Pumpkin Carving Contest Rafting & Bow River Float Shakespeare by the Bow

MENTAL HEALTH & WELLNESS As the GSA supported and helped to implement the University’s Campus Mental Health Strategy, the mental wellbeing of our membership was at the forefront of the GSA’s priorities. The Mental Health and Wellness Committee and the GSA ran and participated in the following events and workshops to encourage balance and mental wellness for graduate students:

• Balancing Life as a Grad Student workshops • Good Night’s Sleep workshops • HeartMath workshops aimed at reducing stress • Mindfulness workshops • Outrun the Stigma Run • Paint Party Classes • Roots of Resilience workshops covering many

facets of wellness such as stress management, health eating, physical activity, and social connectedness

TRIVIA & BOARD GAME NIGHTS The daily commitments of a graduate student can become overwhelming. The well-being of students is very important to the GSA and we want to provide opportunities to relieve some of the stress that inevitably comes with being a student. This year the Vice President Student Life put a strong emphasis on social events and creating a sense of community among graduate students. One of the ways in which this was accomplished was hosting Trivia and Board Game Nights at the Last Defence Lounge. Each Monday during the academic year, students came to engage in friendly competition and enjoy free appetizers; trivia winners also received free coupons to the Lounge. These events gained popularity with our students, some diligently attending every Monday.

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RESIDENCE & FAMILY HOUSING At the GSA, we strive to enhance the student experience of all our members including those who live on campus in student residence and family housing. The GSA’s Residence and Family Housing Committee’s mandate is to assure a better quality of life for graduate students on campus. The following events and workshops were conducted throughout the year that established a stronger community among those graduate students living on campus:

• Bowling night • Crowsnest Hall meet and greet • Go Green contest • Life balance as grad student workshop • Procrastination workshop • Residence multidisciplinary conference in

association with Crowsnest Engagement Team and Residence Services

• Town hall and open house in family housing • Yoga and meditation workshop The Go Green event encouraged recycling and environmentally friendly habits of those living in residence and family housing. Maida Azhar, a child of a family housing resident, proudly won this year’s contest (and received an iPad Mini) with her diligent recycling efforts.

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“I am Maida Azhar. I’m 10 years old and I live in University of

Calgary family housing. I have

noticed that families are throwing recycling items in the garbage because recycling bins are

outside the family housing courts. I have volunteered my time in

evenings and offered families to

put their recycling items outside their patio doors. I pick their

recycling items in evening and

put them in the recycling bins.”

HEALTH AND DENTAL COMMITTEE & PLAN CHANGES In 2014, the GSA signed a contract with a new health and dental insurance plan provider, StudentCare. When the new contract was signed, the health and dental insurance services remained the same as in previous years; modifications to rates and services could not be implemented until Fall 2016. In the second year of this contract, the GSA worked with StudentCare to re-negotiate the services and costs of the plan for implementation in Fall 2016. To facilitate this, an ad hoc committee was formed and met from November 2015 to February 2016 to review data collected from the annual GSA Survey, conduct a breakout session at a Graduate Representative Council meeting, and compare plans from across Alberta and Canada. The committee made decisions to increase services without raising the cost of the plan. The improvements are as follows:

Current plan

New plan for 2016-2017

Health Deductible of $25 per person/ $50 per family

Health deductible has been removed

Dental Deductible of $55 per person/ $110 per family

Dental Deductible has been reduced to $20 per person/$40 per family

Vision Care: $50 per eye exam every 24 months is covered

Vision Care: $75 per eye exam every 24 months is covered

COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT NEGOTIATIONS In 2015 - 2016 the GSA renegotiated the Collective Agreement that outlines the rights and responsibilities of all Graduate Assistants. After a very short and productive set of amicable conversations with the University, the GSA negotiated a 1.5% pay increase for each year of the 2016-2018 Agreement, as well as added a number of important leave provisions. Most importantly, the University committed to providing $75,000 each year in Emergency Funding to help graduate students who experience emergency financial difficulties. A special thank you to Liam Cummings, Blake Lewis and the Academic Standing Committee for their preparatory work, and a huge thank you to Michael Webster and Danica MacDonald for negotiating the 2016 - 2018 Collective Agreement.

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EMPLOYER LIAISON To assist our members in the transition from classroom to career, the GSA employer liaison provides career counselling, professional development workshops, and a mentorship program, all of which better prepare graduate students for life after the degree.


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Increase of students that attended GSA professional development workshops from the previous year from 245 to 609 Protégés were matched with an industry mentor

Workshops facilitated

Students attended workshops

GSA MENTORSHIP AMBASSADOR PROGRAM In an effort to ensure all graduate students are informed about the Graduate Students’ Association’s Mentorship Program, a volunteer-based Ambassador Program was created in March 2016. Graduate students who have participated in the Mentorship Program qualify to volunteer as an ambassador and their role is to share their perspectives and experiences with the program among peers, providing a better understanding of the benefits of the Mentorship Program through one-on-one and group meetings.

TRANSFERABLE SKILLS WORKSHOP The Employer Liaison, in collaboration with Career Services, created a Transferable Skills Workshop for graduate students that is jointly facilitated by the GSA and Career Services. This workshop has the participants focus on their graduate studies experience and incorporate activities that require them to draw out and rate transferable skills. This workshop has been endorsed by My GradSkills, a program facilitated by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

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ELECTIONS Executive positions with the GSA open a world of opportunities and challenges that are an asset to any resume. With five different roles that offer valued experience to a variety of interests and skill sets, the executive positions are a great way to get involved in the graduate student experience and University community. The role of GSA executive may be filled with long hours, hard work, and tough decisions, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges.

“It has been a great honour to represent graduate students in my role as President. I have been able to see the commitment of graduate students, administrators, faculty, staff, and community members to make the University of Calgary one of Canada’s leading universities. More importantly, the opportunity to meet and work with graduate students from a broad range of backgrounds, experiences, and disciplines has made every day at the GSA interesting and exciting. If you want the opportunity to lead a team of exceptional people, I recommend that you consider running for President.” - Mike Webster, 2015-2016 President

“Being Vice President External this past year has been a life-changing experience that has taught me a great deal about everything from board governance and university operations, to lobbying and policy. By far the most rewarding part of my job has been working with and learning from a diverse group of intelligent, driven and inspiring leaders.”

- Erica McLachlan, 2015-2016 Vice President External

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“The years that I have spent as GSA Vice President Student Life have been a great experience for me. Not only did it give me a greater knowledge and appreciation of how the university operates, but it has allowed me to meet and work with many graduate students across disciplines and to see my ideas and initiatives materialize. If you enjoy working with other students and taking the lead on events, I highly recommend running for GSA Vice President Student Life.”

- Danica MacDonald, 2015-2016 Vice President Student Life

“Being an executive is one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable; you get the opportunity to watch an organization grow and develop with your input and ideas shaping it at every turn. The GSA brings together everything you love about being a graduate student – intellectual challenge, candid debate, exciting opportunities, and a sense of accomplishment.” - Sam Hossack, 2015-2016 Vice President Finance & Services

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On February 22nd the GSA opened nominations for the five Executive positions. Three of the five positions were acclaimed once nomination period closed on March 3rd:

• President • Sam Hossack, previous Vice President Finance and Services, Department of Military, Security and Strategic Studies

• Vice President Student Life • Adrianne Offenbecker, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology • Vice President Finance and Services • Arash Afshar, Department of Computer Science The positions of Vice President External and Vice President Academic were determined at a by-election on April 26. At a Special General Meeting the candidates for the two positions had the opportunity to present their platforms and answer student questions. The two candidates for Vice President External were:

• Xiao Yang Fang (Yangyang), Department of Community Health Sciences • Jodi Yaworski, Haskayne School of Business The four candidates for Vice President Academic were:

• Abubaker Abdelhafiz, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering • Justin Caouette, Department of Philosophy • Farhad Hossain, Haskayne School of Business • Britney Paris, Werklund School of Education The results of the election were:

• Vice President Academic • Abubaker (Abu) Abdelhafiz, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

• Vice President External • Xiao Yang Fang (Yangyang), Department of Community Health Sciences. Graduate Students’ Association Annual Report | 24

plans for the future

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My vision for the GSA in 2016-2017 is to continue to develop the GSA as a University and Calgary community partner, a leader in student representation across Canada, and an organization to which our 6,000 members can all be proud to belong. As we continue to develop our Strategic Plan and the principles and vision established in 2015-2016, I hope to continue to improve the GSA through our relationships; with our members, the University, and all our partners in the city, province, and across the country. My primary goals for this upcoming year are to develop internal structures related to good governance, fiscal accountability, and grievances. I hope to ensure that the GSA’s legacy is its unwavering ability to advocate for students and ensure they receive a quality education and an amazing graduate student experience. By tightening the GSA’s internal structures, and implementing more transparency and organizational best practices we can guarantee that the GSA can be here for graduate students long after we all leave. I am also passionate about improving the GSA’s ability to communicate with its members and stakeholders. We can only be as good as those we serve and represent and only as effective in our advocacy as we are aware of the issues graduate students face. This year, I want to ensure that we better engage our members in conversations about the issues, share our perspectives on events, on and off campus, and most importantly satisfy our members’ need for information by improving our websites for the GSA and the LDL, and instituting monthly blogs by the Executive. Finally, I want to ensure that we make sustainable and efficient use of all our resources. Together, with our graduate and University communities, we can truly make the graduate student experience at UCalgary a fantastic one.

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My plans for 2016-2017 revolve around three core goals: 1.

Updating and streamlining the GSA Awards portfolio.


Empowering graduate students.


Spreading awareness about resources on campus.

Updating GSA Awards: I have begun working with the Awards committee to develop new awards and revamp existing ones to cover under-served student needs, such as student entrepreneurship and helping students participate in competitions. We have also re-structured the Awards Committee to improve the evaluation and information-sharing processes, and we are actively working with partners on campus to expand the GSA’s award offerings. Empowering graduate students: I aim to empower our students by working with the Awards and Academic Standing Committees -in addition to partners on campus- to create new resources, encourage student participation in contests and public performances and support campus-wide professional development projects and student-led research initiatives. Spreading Awareness: The UCalgary and the GSA offer many resources for students. However these resources can only be fully utilized if students are made aware of them. One of my goals -and a major goal for the GSA as an organization- is to ensure that students are aware of all the resources available to them, and understand the Vice President Academic’s role as an advocate and representative of their rights in processes such as appeals, decanal reviews and so on.

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My vision for this year is based on three core principles: Unity, Diversity, and Exposure. Unity is about establishing a strong sense of graduate student community across the University of Calgary campuses and among the graduate students from the other three research intensive institutions of Alberta: the University of Alberta, the University of Lethbridge, and Athabasca University. As the newly elected Chair of the Alberta Graduate Provincial Advocacy Council (ab-GPAC), I am in a unique position to build a unified voice among the 17,000 graduate students currently studying in Alberta. The past two GSA boards have played instrumental roles in establishing the Council as the official graduate student representative body to the provincial government and in developing relationships with external stakeholders. This year, ab-GPAC will solidify its organizational structure and internal policies; strengthen existing ties with the Ministry of Advanced Education; and set up ad hoc committees for its major advocacy priorities including sustainable government funding models, regulation of policies regarding International students, and lobbying for changes in the Labour Legislation that are in the best interests of graduate students. We will also instigate a full-scale promotional campaign by publishing brochures, launching a website, and establishing a strong social media presence. On our campus, I will be working on a GSA Quality Money funded platform called “Cam-unity”, which aims to create a visual map of connections between the UCalgary graduate students thereby enhancing our shared identity. The platform will be launched in the Fall of 2016 and will be accessible through Diversity is celebrated through the engagement of graduate students from a wide range of backgrounds in on- and off-campus activities. This year, the External Relations Standing Committee will energize student advocacy efforts on the municipal and provincial level. Additionally, I will leverage my role as a University of Calgary Senator in expanding the GSA Mentorship Program, and in pairing students with community and industry leaders. Finally, the University’s 50th anniversary provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to expose and celebrate graduate student success. On the one hand, I will work to increase our presences in the media and on the other I look forward to facilitating strong graduate student involvement at key events such as the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, the UCalgary Day at the Stampede, and TEDx Calgary.

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My goal as the Vice President Student Life is to enrich the lives of graduate students by increasing student engagement, building a strong graduate community, and bettering the overall graduate experience at the University of Calgary. I intend to accomplish this through five main initiatives: orientation, re-orientation, events, services, and advocacy. Orientation: I will be working to revamp the GSA’s role in Graduate Orientation and departmental orientations in order to build a strong foundational relationship between incoming graduate students and the GSA, as well as create a fun, engaging atmosphere during Grad O. Re-Orientation: The needs and experiences of graduate students change as they progress through their graduate careers. As such, I plan to promote existing services and develop more targeted programming that is tailored to students at different stages of their degree, particularly those students in the last year or years of their program. Events: Whether it is snowshoeing at Lake Louise, sharing food at international potlucks, or competing at pub trivia nights, GSA events have helped foster a sense of community among graduate students. This year the GSA will be hiring a full-time Events Coordinator to assist in providing fun social events and discounted tickets to various events/activities at the University and around the city of Calgary. Services: The University of Calgary provides a wealth of non-academic services to its students, however, many of these resources are geared primarily toward undergraduates. One of my main goals this year is to work with various university entities to create services and resources that are better adapted to graduatespecific needs. Advocacy: In the coming year, my Student Experience Standing Committee will be working on initiatives that address some of the most pressing non-academic concerns facing graduate students, such as mental health & wellness policy and resources, permanent residency concerns and visa differential fee policies for international students, and tenancy-related issues for graduate residents on campus.

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As Vice President Finance and Services, my goals for this year are to improve financial transparency, improve financial support processes, and raise awareness about the Collective Agreement as described below. Financial transparency: One of my main goals this year is to make the GSA finances more transparent to help graduate students better understand what they mean and why. As a result, graduate students will be able to make a more informed decision regarding the GSA budget and other financial decisions. Improve financial support process: The GSA has a huge amount of potential to support graduate students whether it be helping them when they are in financial crisis or supporting their big ideas to create a better future for graduate students. My goal is to promote these resources and make their application processes easier. Collective Agreement awareness: The Collective Agreement (CA) ensures that graduate students are treated fairly in their role as Graduate Assistants (Teaching, Non-teaching, Research). For example, the CA defines policies regarding compensation, workload, and various leaves. My goal is to inform graduate students about their rights and who to contact in case of a conflict arising from the CA.

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Accounts receivable
















Accounts payable and accrued liabilities



Deferred revenue (health and dental premiums)













Assets Current assets: Cash and cash equivalents Short-term investments

Prepaid expenses and deposits

Property and equipment

Liabilities & Net Assets Current liabilities:

Net assets: Unrestricted Internally restricted


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Revenues: Graduate Students’ Centre Lounge Graduate Students’ Association

Cost of sales General and administrative: Graduate Students’ Centre Lounge Graduate Students’ Association

Excess of revenues over expenses

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Balance, beginning of year





Excess of revenues over expenses





Balance, end of year





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Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of year



Cash and cash equivalents, end of year



Cash provided by (used in): Operations: Excess of revenues over expenses Adjustments for: Amortization

Change in non-cash working capital: Accounts receivable Prepaid expenses and deposits Inventory Accounts payable and accrued liabilities Deferred revenue (health and dental premiums)

Investing: Purchase of property and equipment Purchase of short-term investments Proceeds from maturity of short-term investments

Increase in cash and cash equivalents

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Profile for Graduate Students' Association

2015 - 2016 GSA annual report  

2015 - 2016 GSA annual report  


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