SGPS elections begins with debate

Candidates promise to tackle Time to Completion policy and graduate student mental health

Presidential candidate Kevin Wiener speaks during the SGPS debates on Tuesday.
Image by: Alex Pickering
Presidential candidate Kevin Wiener speaks during the SGPS debates on Tuesday.

The Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) executive elections began on Tuesday with a debate on each candidate’s platform.

The debates were held in Wallace Hall. The debate focused on the Time to Completion policy that was passed by School of Graduate Studies Executive Council last year, as well as graduate student mental health.

Kevin Wiener, a Faculty of Law student, and Sean Field, a PhD candidate in the department of geography, are both competing for president of the SGPS.

Wiener is running as part of the Renew SGPS team, which includes four Faculty of Law students: Wiener, Tyrel Taylor, Patrick Gajos and Thompson Hamilton.

Renew SGPS is running on a platform of “renewed engagement, renewed transparency, renewed services.”

“We felt that the best way to bring the changes to the way the SGPS operates is bring a team of people who all have the same beliefs about the SGPS,” Wiener said.

In his opening statement at the debate, Wiener said his team will focus on engaging professional students with the SGPS and advocate for an official policy on academic harassment.

“The administration, even in the latest collective agreement with the union, set up a policy for the harassment of faculty by students,” he said. “But there is nothing in place to deal with the harassment of graduate students by supervisors.”

Field said he will focus on expanding academic advocacy and creating a campus childcare strategy for the university.

“We’ve seen that the academic advisors have been a smash success,” he said. “However, at certain times of year there’s a lot of demand and we expect demand will increase.”

He also said that childcare is an issue that affects many graduate students, especially international students, and so he wants to develop a strategy to help students deal with the costs of childcare.

“Childcare costs up to $1,200 per month,” he said. “In Kingston the waiting list is about two years.”

James MacLeod, a PhD candidate in the School of Medicine, said the most pressing financial issue for the university is the pension plan fund solvency deficit. He is running for Board of Trustees representative.

Mark Syer, MacLeod’s competitor, said he is focusing on monitoring the new budget model of the university and making sure that financial considerations don’t “affect the quality of teaching and learning.”

Tyrel Taylor, the Renew SGPS candidate for vice-president of campaigns & community affairs (VPCCA), said he will advocate for students on a municipal level, both to secure election registration and to protect students from unethical landlords.

Lorne Beswick is running against him. He said he will focus on health and wellness for graduate students, and will reach out to community groups, like the Loving Spoonful and Levana Gender Advocacy Group, to strengthen their ties with the SGPS.

Patrick Gajos, the Renew SGPS candidate for Vice President Finance and Services, and Dinah Jansen, the candidate for Vice President Graduate, are both running unopposed. Thompson Hamilton, the Renew SGPS candidate for vice president professional (VPP), said he has extensive experience with the Office of Advancement, and aims to create a permanent Professional Student Social Committee.

The other VPP candidate, Jason Paquette, said he isn’t running on particular campaign points, but wants to “increase the dialogue between student groups”.

Eric Rapos, a computer science PhD student running for Graduate Senator, said he will run student town halls prior to Senate meetings to inform students, and review SGPS policies and bylaws.

His opponent, Stephen Smith, said he will focus on raising awareness on the funding needs of graduate students as well as ensuring that recommendations that “relieve the burden” of the Time to Completion policy are implemented.

Online voting for SGPS elections will take place on March 26 and 27.


Debates, Elections, SGPS

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