Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Referendum Oversight Minutes posted

Minutes of the first CFS Referendum Oversight Committee meeting on January 24 have been posted on the GSS website. Have a look!


UPDATE: Feb 4 minutes are now up too.

Monday, January 28, 2008

UK calls for profs to watch students for extremism

An interesting (Ok, terrifying!) debate is happening in the UK where some MPs are moving to have profs be watchdogs for extremism in students. Profs aren't pleased. This is from the Guardian. Links to full text below.

Call for campus extremism watch The UK government is encouraging university chiefs to watch out for extremists on campuses and report suspicious people to the authorities.

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly said they should protect free thinking but inform police of "unacceptable behaviour" by students or staff.

As she spoke Home Secretary Charles Clarke was giving details of proposed measures against glorifying terrorism.

There has been concern that ministers are seeking to "criminalise thought".

Free expression

Ms Kelly was addressing the annual conference of Universities UK at their headquarters in Tavistock Square, London - where a bomb tore apart a double-decker bus on 7 July.

She told the vice-chancellors the "moderate majority" must be protected from harassment, intimidation or pressure and be free to study.

Higher education institutions must continue to "teach people to think for themselves and express themselves and to listen to and consider the opinions of others".

But they must also identify and confront unacceptable behaviour.


read the whole story here:

read about University professors responses here:

Friday, January 25, 2008

organic latte

Ok, so I just had an organic fair trade coffee latte with organic hazelnut flavour at Finnerty's... Sometimes UVic does things right! Now.. if they could just get organic milk from the local dairy co-op...
It took me back to my youth in Courtenay. I once (this is true) had an organic fair trade soy latte with non-bee-exploitive honey. Now, out-hippy me on THAT, I dare you!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Have you ever wanted to peek inside an author's head?

Now is your chance!


Be a voyeur as the words spill out onto the screen on Saturday, Jan. 26 at the University of Victoria’s first-ever “Write Here in Plain Sight” (WHIPS) event. Six UVic researchers and local columnist Jack Knox of the Times Colonist will write in full public view for three hours in separate rooms, with each word, every typo and any moments of writer’s block projected onto large screens behind them. The public is invited to observe and ask questions as the writers narrate the research and writing process. The WHIPS concept was introduced by Dalhousie University in March 2007. This year, UVic will join Dalhousie in a simultaneous bi-coastal sequel to last year’s popular event. The West Coast session has been organized by UVic’s Writing Centre, the Student Transition Centre and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

       “This innovative experiment is a bright, wide window into how writers write,” says Dr. Gweneth Doane, associate dean of UVic’s Faculty of Graduate Studies. “Watching a process in action is one of the best ways to learn. And that’s what we are offering to our scholars, students, budding authors and any other interested members of the public who want to attend this free session.”

       WHIPS — Write Here in Plain Sight at UVic

       Saturday, 26 January 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
       Dr. Yvonne Coady, UVic Computer Science
       Dr. Mary Elizabeth Leighton, UVic English
       Dr. Wolff-Michael Roth, UVic Curriculum Studies
       Dr. Lisa Surridge, UVic English
       Dr. Holly Tuokko, UVic Psychology
       Ben Chou, UVic Centre on Aging
       Jack Knox, Times Colonist
       David Strong Building, rooms 103, 118, 122, 126, 128, 130
       Admission is free on a drop-in basis.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

CFS Referendum Updates

Reformation information website
The GSS has established a website to house information on the upcoming referendum on whether to leave the CFS.

The website is a neutral space meant to keep students appraised of the workings of the referendum oversight committee and thus the rules of the campaign. It will likely link to online campaign material for both sides when available.

Referendum oversight committee
The process of the referendum is a bit convoluted. The GSS served the required 6 months notice, and now a Referendum Oversight Committee has been formed. I am calling it "ROC", affectionately.

The ROC is a 50-50 committee made up of two delegates elected by the CFS and two delegates elected by the GSS. The committee is:

From the GSS:
Nicole O'Byrne (Law) and Takuto Shiota (Philosophy)

From the CFS:
Lucy Watson (Campaign Staff) and Ben Lewis (CFS National Treasurer)

GSS ROC reps "arms length"
The GSS Exec has decided, in consultation with O'Byrne and Shiota, that the GSS delegates to the ROC will be "arms length" from the GSS. The GSS Exec felt it was important for GSS members from either (or no) side of the debate have representation on the committee, and the focus of the ROC be on establishing fair referendum procedures.

Since the GSS Executive has formally supported the petition to leave the CFS, the formal independence of the GSS delegates to the ROC formal was especially important.

GSS Office space to be "campaign neutral"
The GSS executive has also designated the GSS Office as "campaign neutral". All materials related to referendum campaigning will be kept out of Grad Centre 102 to ensure all grad students feel welcome in their student union office with questions about referendum rules and processes.

Office Space Campaign Launched!

CUPE 4163 and the GSS have launched a joint petition campaign, and the petition is here in PDF format.
grad office street sign
This was circulated at the Grad Council meeting and folks are circulating them in their department and returning them to the GSS or CUPE 4163 offices.  We are also asking grad reps in departments that are moving office to take inventory (count the offices) before and after their move so we can assess the actual net change due to renovations effectively.
If you don't have access to copying or printing, we are also printing copies at the GSS for you to pick up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Clubs Council to vote on grad student clubs funding

At the January 22 meeting of UVSS (UVic's undergrad society) Clubs Council, clubs council will be voting on whether the accept policy changes regarding graduate student members of clubs. Grad students currently pay fees for clubs but are still restricted from starting a new club on their own. This is due to UVSS policy pre-dating the GSS referendum to pay fees into the clubs funds. This earlier policy ensured 2/3 of the members of any clubs were undergraduate students, as undergraduate students were the only ones funding clubs at the time.

In this meeting, UVSS Clubs Council will decide whether to allow both grads and undergrads to start a club--which would pave the way for clubs previously rejected from receiving clubs funding because they had all or majority graduate students initiating the club.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Casino Night seeking volunteers!

The GSS is hosting our annual Casino Night, featuring blackjack, poker, roulette, and even a "Big 2" table.
Are you a card shark? Roulette wheel spinning officianado?  Then I have the volunteer opportunity for you!

We are looking for some folks to spend an hour as a dealer at our party. The event was really fun last year. Entrance is by donation to a graduate student emergency bursary... and no real money is used!

The GSS supplies "gss bucks" for everyone to gamble with, and at the end of the night you can use your "GSS bucks" to bid on some fun auction prizes! This year our theme is celebrating Chinese New Year, so it will be an extra lucky night for everyone!

Sooo.... please let us know if you want to deal in by emailing gsscomm@uvic.ca to volunteer!

Tuesday, February 5 from 6:30 - 9 pm
IQ Bistro, Grad Centre

please rsvp (so we know we get enough decks of cards, etc!): gsscomm@uvic.ca

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Co-operating for Local Food Security: The Story of Saanich Organics

The BC Institute for Co-operative Studies presents our  2008 BCICS/Canadian Social Economy Hub Winter Speakers Series  This series features presentations by UVic academics, graduate students, visiting faculty, and practitioners discussing topics related to Co-operatives and the Social Economy. These presentations are free and open to all members of the public and university community.  ******************************************************************* Co-operating for Local Food Security: The Story of Saanich Organics Robin Tunnicliffe, Graduate Student, University of Victoria  Southern Vancouver Island is blessed with a rich resource of agricultural land; however, farming is a threatened activity due to increased demands of a growing population and inadequate support through public policy. Nevertheless, there is an enthusiastic mix of small and organic farmers in the region whose efforts to steward the land have been welcomed by local residents and promoted through culinary tourism. The story of Saanich Organics provides a look at the co-operative efforts of three female farmers as they work to establish a thriving, small-scale agricultural enterprise.  Time: Thursday, January 24th, 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Location: University of Victoria David Strong Building, Room C126  ******************************************************************  Coming up next…  Mutualization of Public Institutions Jorge Sousa, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Alberta Time: Thursday, February 7th, 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Location: University of Victoria David Strong Building, Room C126  Bridging the Gap: Between the Ideal and Reality in the Governance of Non-Profit Organizations Vic Murray, Adjunct Professor, School of Public Administration, University of Victoria Time: Thursday, March 6th 1:00 - 2:00 pm Location: TBA  For more information, visit our website at: http://www.bcics.org/content/bcicscsehub-speakers-series  Or contact Sol Kinnis at: 721-8751 or by email at: solbcics@uvic.ca    Sol Kinnis, Resource Co-ordinator and Community Outreach BC Institute for Co-operative Studies  Room 109, University House 2 University of Victoria PO Box 3060, Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 3R4  Ph: 250.721.8751 F: 250.472.4541 email: rochdale@uvic.ca  www.bcics.org  The Saxena Library of Co-operative Studies is open 9:00am - 4:30pm Monday

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Referendum Oversight Committee

The Canadian Federation of Students bylaws set down rules for a referendum on CFS membership, including the creation of a Referendum Oversight Committee. This committee is made up of two members elected by the CFS National and two members elected by the Graduate Students ' Society Executive Board.

The GSS has elected Nicole O'Byrne, graduate student in Law and Takuto Shiota, graduate student in Philosophy as the GSS representatives to the Referendum Oversight Committee.

Watch this space and the GSS website for updates on the referendum process and news of the CFS delegates to this committee.

Scholarships to study overseas

The deadline is approaching if you wish to study under foreign government awards in Chile, Colombia, France, Korea, Russia, Philippines (for academic year 2008-2009) and Mexico (for academic year 2009-2010)

The deadline for applications for Canadians to study overseas under the Foreign Government Awards Program is January 28, 2008.

Further information is available at: http://www.scholarships.gc.ca/fga/fgap-en.html.

Friday, January 11, 2008

everything you wanted to know about the CFS but were afraid to ask

Infamous (at least amongst geeky student union types like me) student blogger Titus Gregory has scanned an compiled a complete history of Canadian Federation of Students AGM minutes and errata for your viewing pleasure. He has some of the audits and budgets in there but not all, as well as some executive reports. Check it out at:


A recent motion at their AGM directed the CFS to post their governing documents on line, which is great news for members that aren't hanging out amongst the binders and files of their student union at all hours. However, I do find it hard to get to the documents on the CFS site (I can't find a place where it is linked to the main page) and also by using Google, so for GSS members I posted a link on our GSS site in the "Campaigns and Governance" section here ... which links to the CFS documents here: http://www.cfs-fcee.ca/html/english/about/documents.php

Fascinating, I know! Ok back to becoming a YoYo Master (see below). Expecting to get my YYM this year!

UVic's English Student's Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference:

Talking out the Trash

We are eager for paper proposals for our INTER-DISCIPLINARY graduate student conference organized by the English Department at the University of Victoria, to be held March 14-15, 2008.

The theme for the 2008 conference is “Talking out the Trash.” We are interested in papers that investigate how trash becomes treasure – or the reverse – how the once salvaged discard can become rare, and how rarity adds value. Please visit the conference website for more specific topic suggestions.

WE NEED MORE SUBMISSIONS FROM UVIC STUDENTS. We have had some interest from students at other universities, but are hoping to see more work from our own! This is a great opportunity for UVic graduate students to get some reading experience for larger conferences. If you have a paper that you think fits this year's conference theme in any way, please BE BRAVE and submit your work for consideration.

Proposals of 250 words, including your name, address, telephone number, email address, and university affiliation, should be sent to tst(at)uvic.ca by January 15, 2008. WE ARE CURRENTLY LOOKING TO EXTEND THIS DEADLINE & WILL SEND THE NEW DATE WHEN AVAILABLE. Only email submissions will be accepted.

For further information please see the conference website at <http://web.uvic.ca/~englgrad/conference.html>.

If you weren't so busy studying...

... you could be a YoYo Master by now!!!

Yo Yo Guy 2007

Monday, January 7, 2008

Centre for Studies in Religion & Society 2008/09 Grad Student Fellowships

The Centre for Studies in Religion and Society invites applications from UVic graduate students for up to five one-year fellowship appointments commencing September, 2008.
Ian H. Stewart Graduate Student Fellowships (3)
Vandekerkhove Family Trust Graduate Student Fellowships (2)


The fellowships are valued at $5000 each and include office space at the CSRS.


The deadline for applications is February 1, 2008.


For more information, visit http://www.csrs.uvic.ca/programs/grads.php

Upcoming issues for grad students at UVIC

At the beginning of each semester I start thinking about what the key priorities will be at the GSS office. I am always a bit overwhelmed at the broad range of subjects I am expecting to deal with, and a bit nervous I am missing something. So here is my list, and I am wondering if others see some I don't?

GSS members have some major decisions to make about our internal affairs.

Building expansion:
Should we expand our building, and if so, how much should we invest in expansion (and how will we get the money?!) Watch for a Special General Meeting in February to look at architects plans and to give your executive board direction on what you want your building to be like, and how it should be financed.

CFS Membership:
March 18-20 graduate students will go to the polls an decide on whether to continue membership in the Canadian Federation of Students. The referendum will be governed by CFS bylaws so the GSS so my big concern at the moment is whether our familiar processes can be used--most of our members use web vote in GSS referenda and elections, but it remains to be seen whether the CFS will agree to that process.

Beyond our student union, grad students also continue to face many other issues in their studies:

Office space continues to be a big concern for students on campus. Perhaps the engineers, with so much experience stuffing themselves into beetles could offer advice on sharing an office with 10 other students (and two desks!)

Expansion of the graduate student population through new provincial funding also poses some problems for our members--what if there aren't enough resources in your department already, and now your population is doubling? Some students are worried they may never find a supervisor.

Funding. After much pressure from both students and university administration, the BC government created a graduate scholarship program in 2007 and redesigned some others, like MITACS. Great news! But is the program design working for graduate students? I would like to hear more from students who are involved in the various funding programs established this year.

Most frustrating to me is that fellowships administration continue to be a problem... and so we continue to be a thorn in the side of the administration. Check out our original report on fellowship policy if you don't know about this issue.

For many students, poverty, housing, immigrant/international students rights and lack of adequate childcare are problems faced in their lives outside of school--but that cause problems academically. Generally support for these campaigns comes in the form of writing letters in support of agencies lobbying effots. For example, the GSS has been active in supporting the BC childcare campaign.

Academic integrity

This article in University Affairs looks at problems of academic integrity--taking credit for others work, research integrity, influence of funders, plagiarism... how often is it happening at Canadian Universities, and what can be done?

An interesting issue!