SGPS offers virtual office hours to students

Society prioritizing financial advocacy and remote support

Justine Aman, SGPS president, said the Society’s commissioners have been finalizing plans for the 2020-21 year. 
Credit: 
Supplied by Justine Aman

While SGPS President Justine Aman said the Society is focused on staying up to date with the needs of graduate and professional students, she acknowledged there’s more work to be done.

Aman, who began her term in May, has found students are forming a network of support in different sectors of their lives, including financial, social, mental wellness and academic. 

She said the pandemic has affected each student differently, with a particular emphasis on financial stability. 

“There has been significant financial impact to SGPS members, to which continued advocacy in the reduction of tuition, reimbursement of fees, and the provision of emergency response funding has been the top priority of the Executive Team,” Aman wrote in a statement to The Journal.

In April, graduate students pushed for reduced summer tuition  because of campus closure, the University said it was not in a position to waive graduate tuition for the summer term.

At the May 8 Board of Trustees meeting, the University also said it will maintain regular tuition fees in the fall term. 

Aman wrote that the SGPS has been working with stakeholders at the University to ensure graduate and professional students are considered in all levels of conversation surrounding the current pandemic. 

“Many of the plans we placed in our platforms during elections have been shifted, but the overall goal has remained the same: to work under the pillars of transparency, honesty, equity, diversity, and inclusivity, and creative advocacy,” Aman wrote.

To support graduate students navigating personal and financial difficulties, the SGPS is using a remote platform to host virtual office hours, generate anonymous feedback forms, and organize an online town hall. 

Aman said these endeavours have ensured the Society is working with the most up-to-date student concerns.  

Aman said the Society is also outlining both short- and long-term goals of the office in a strategic plan that was released to members on May 1.  

“Our team has been working hard to address all concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as ensuring a sense of community during this time,” she wrote. 

Addressing long-term strategies of the Society, Aman said SGPS commissioners have been working hard to finalize plans for the 2020-21 year. 

“[O]ur Vice-President (Community) has been in constant communication with the University on planning orientation events,” she wrote. 

Aman also cited the efforts of her executive team during the first 25 days in office, including Vice-President (Finance and Services) Tamara Mitterer, Vice-President (Professional) John Jeyaratnam, Vice-President (Community) Anthony Lomax, and Vice-President (Graduate) 
Courtney Bannerman.

“Although we have been working hard, we recognize how much more work there is to be completed; we will continue to connect with students and stakeholders to address concerns and to put pressure on the University when needed,” Aman wrote. 

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