SGPS elects new president, one vice-president

All referendum questions pass but one; by-election planned for April 3

SGPS President Arash Farzam-Kia says it’s difficult to attract executive candidates due to the time committment graduate work requires.
SGPS President Arash Farzam-Kia says it’s difficult to attract executive candidates due to the time committment graduate work requires.

The Society for Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) elected its executive on Feb. 28 with an 8.77 per cent voter turnout.

Jeff Welsh, PhD ’09, was elected president with 87.16 per cent of the vote. Sean Tucker, PhD ’09, was elected vice-president internal (graduate) with 85.21 per cent of the vote. He could not be reached for comment.

No one ran for the three vice-president positions. The SGPS is holding a by-election on April 3 to elect the vice-president internal (professional), vice-president operations, vice-president external and SGPS senator.

SGPS President Arash Farzam-Kia said the lack of candidates was due to the nature of graduate and professional studies at Queen’s.

“It’s more difficult for us to get candidates due to time

commitments that graduate and professional studies entail,” he said. “Students might have to put their studies on hold and put research on hold in order to run for executive.”

He said the disinterest is typical for graduate student societies across Canada.

“There is not as much interest in the [SGPS] executive as in the AMS,” he said. “This is not unique to Queen’s graduate studies. Across the country there is the same problem.”

Farzam-Kia said the low number of voters was expected because SGPS elections have had a similar turnout in the past.

“It wasn’t a low voter turnout by any standards compared to previous years,” he said.

In conjunction with the election for the SGPS executive was a slate of nine referendum questions. All the questions, including a $10 increase to Health, Counselling,and Disability Services fee, passed except for a question to establish a $3.50 fee for the Journal.

Welsh said the Journal’s referendum question may have failed because graduate and professional students feel disconnected from the Journal in comparison to undergraduate students.

“From pure speculation about why it failed, it may be that grad students feel it is more of an AMS institution and so there isn’t any point in funding it,” he said.

Because voter turnout was less than 10 per cent, the results can be overturned with ten per cent—304—of the electorate’s signatures on a petition.

Journal editor in chief Katherine Laidlaw said the Journal is collecting signatures in the hopes of putting the question back up for a vote April 3.

The Journal has had an SGPS fee since the graduate society’s creation in 1981. Last year SGPS council voted down a referendum question to renew the fee, effectively cancelling it.

The sum collected this year would have been approximately $10,000.

“The Journal relies on funding from SGPS. Otherwise, we rely on advertising revenue. Losing this fee makes us less financially stable,” Laidlaw said.

The SGPS’s support is important to the Journal, she said.

“We haven’t changed editorial coverage,” she said. “We would like to know how to serve grad students better and how to serve Queen’s students better as a whole. We are a newspaper for Queen’s students, not undergraduates or graduate students exclusively.”

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