Sunday, September 25, 2011

photo blog chronicles free snacks of academia

The GSS has been all about food of late .... Wednesday Coffee is bringing a crowd every week, and the new Grad House menu is peppered with grad student references. It has been my experience that food draws grad students. Apparently Jorge Chan agrees.

Thus, I was amused when I found Refreshments will be provided, a photo blog featuring free food offerings in academia.

What is the food that keeps your thesis going? (Are you among the legions of grad students who have told me of your despair since biblio cafe replaced their veggie wrap? Do the undergrad who make your americano at the Munchie Bar know more about your thesis progress than your supervisor?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


It seems everyone is down on grad school these days. Newest commentary comes from the economist.

here is a sample

The interests of academics and universities on the one hand and PhD students on the other are not well aligned. The more bright students stay at universities, the better it is for academics. Postgraduate students bring in grants and beef up their supervisors’ publication records. Academics pick bright undergraduate students and groom them as potential graduate students. It isn’t in their interests to turn the smart kids away, at least at the beginning. One female student spoke of being told of glowing opportunities at the outset, but after seven years of hard slog she was fobbed off with a joke about finding a rich husband

For my own research (into potential for graduate students to form co-operatives as  a service provider) I just obtained the much cited (and also bleak) book , Leaving the Ivory Tower: The Causes and Consequences of Departure from Doctoral Study (by Barbara E. Lovitts).

For me, the hardest departures I see are where the student has made a huge sacrifice, for many years, to attend grad school, but at the end of their program it doesn't work out. In my experience there are usually several factors piling up against the student, many of them also outside the university's control, and little means to help the student find their way through if those external problems cause long delays.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dean loves Dean Cakes!

I admit I was somewhat trepidatious when GSS Operations and Services Manager Brandy Sistili proposed renaming the Grad House crab cakes after the Dean.

The crab cakes are one of the most popular menu items... but still, it is possible it could be taken the wrong way.

Now, if the Grad House menu were an honourary degree, there would be a whole protocol and process to deal with such situations...

Brandy pointed out the menu was full of references to grad student life, and the GSS has a great relationship with the Dean. So, despite my worries, Brandy kept it in.

Turns out that, as usual, Brandy was right, because the Dean popped in with a big grin and asked immediately to order his honourific meal. (Sadly they were sold out!)

Now I am worried the President will be feeling left out!

Grad rep? Moi?

Grad Students… Be your department Grad Rep to the GSS!

What do the Graduate Representatives do?
represent the interests of fellow grad students in your department
report back to your home department on discussions and decisions made during grad council meetings
where possible, sit on one university committee a year
hold a departmental meeting at least once a semester to discuss common issues of concern and bring concerns and issues raised back to grad council 

participate in major governance decisions about the GSS (e.g. last year, the Grad Rep Council was involved in discussions regarding changes to the health and dental plans)
attend the monthly grad rep council meetings the Annual General Meeting and Semi-annual General Meeting
participate in GSS sub committees and represent graduate students to committees of the university

How do I become the Graduate Representative?
It is up to students in each department to select a representative. This call for grad reps should be forwarded to students in your department by email by the department graduate secretary. Typically interested students submit their name to the graduate secretary, and if there are several candidates, elections are held either by ballot in the department office, email vote or election at a meeting of all graduate students in the department. The nature of the election is determined by the students in the department, and usually depends on the number of students enrolled, whether the department has a department graduate students union that can administer the election, and whether many students are studying by distance. Departments should make efforts to select the representative before the first meeting of the Council on Tuesday, September 27 

Can there be more than one representative for a department?
Grad Council meetings are open to all members of the Society. However, each department has only one vote. If the representative is unable to attend a meeting, an alternate may attend in her/his place. If a representative fails to attend three consecutive meetings without sending an alternate, she or he shall be deemed to have resigned from the Council.

When does the Council meet?
Grad Council meetings are usually held on the last Tuesday of each month, at 5 pm at the Graduate Students' Centre (see exceptions below). In September there will be a meeting September 27 at 5pm. normally, there is no meeting in December or between April and August. Pizza or other light fare is served for dinner. (January 2012 meeting will be on Tuesday the 24th).

I’ve been elected, what now?
Please ensure that your grad secretary sends notice of your election to the GSS by email at gssmgr [a] Successful candidates can contact Stacy Chappel at gssmgr[at] to provide contact information and obtain more information.

Any questions:
Please call/email Stacy Chappel at 472-5163 / gssmgr[at]