The current Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) President and Executive team have done an outstanding job over the past year. They have successfully advocated for Graduate student professional development funding; represented the voices of Graduate students on many university committees including the Student Wellness Initiative and the Graduate Student Experience Committee; increased the GSA’s visibility on all of Wilfrid Laurier University’s (WLU) campuses by creating new multi-campus Assistant-Vice President positions; and improved the quality of the overall Graduate students’ experience at WLU. The sitting administration has successfully recreated the GSA as a governing body with many new internal and external partnerships, strong fiscal management, and membership accountability. Given what has been accomplished, it is my belief that the GSA now requires a President and CEO who will provide continuity between the many changes that the GSA has adopted this year and the future. We need a President and CEO who understands the GSA’s operational structure and the importance of advocating for an enhanced Graduate student experience through the implementation of a progressive and proactive administration. The platform that I propose to run on consists of three main pillars: Communication, Collaboration, and Consistency. Through the implementation of each individual pillar I will focus on improving the Graduate students’ accessibility to resources, the creation of a stronger governing body and the development of an improved Graduate student experience.
The first pillar, Communication, will focus on increasing the visibility of the GSA to our membership on all campuses. This requires the development, implementation and evaluation of a new multi-medium social media strategy and communication plan to address our current representation to our membership. Increasing our public communication would involve increasing our social media presence, redesigning our website, establishing a stronger physical presence on all campuses, and creating a stronger relationship with Student Publications and Radio Laurier. Furthermore, increasing our public communication will focus on the development of an electronic resource for incoming graduate students that will address social, cultural, and professional concerns, including available graduate housing, membership benefits and available financial aid for professional development.
The second pillar, Collaboration, will focus on working with our new partnerships to improve the Graduate Student experience at WLU. A significant concern facing graduate students who attend WLU under a Teaching Assistant (TA) contract, is the financial burden of paying their tuition before receiving compensation for their employment with the university. Under the Collaboration pillar, we will work with our new partners in an attempt to create a program that allows Graduate students to pay their tuition in installments or through a payment plan option in order to minimize the financial pressures experienced not only by our TAs, but those felt by graduate students experiencing financial challenges of any nature. As well, we will address a second rising concern amongst Graduate students, the lack of information on Graduate housing availability. As such, we will work with the Graduate Housing Committee to develop a resource for both incoming and current graduate students to use in order to find living accommodations in the city.
The third pillar, Consistency, will focus on furthering the current administrations successes over the past year. Most importantly, using the newly formed Graduate Student Experience Committee to focus on professional development opportunities for Graduate students on all campuses. With an increasing number of Graduate students completing a one-year program at WLU, it is important for the GSA to provide resources for its membership to attend conferences in lieu of publishing opportunities. As such, Consistency will mean advocating for more funds to support Graduate student opportunities to attend national conferences on an annual basis. Another focus under the pillar Consistency will be addressing the creation of new Research Assistant and Teaching Assistant opportunities for Graduate students. Through working with WLU’s various academic departments, we hope to be able to provide more Graduate students with an opportunity not only to earn money while attending their program, but also to develop both personally and professionally.
Communication. Collaboration. Consistency. Using these three pillars as the foundation for my platform the GSA will enact new social, financial and administrative policies to improve the student experience for the GSA membership. My Presidency will focus on increasing the visibility and communication of the GSA on all campuses, working in collaboration with new partnerships to improve the Graduate Student experience at WLU, and provide continuity from current administrations successes over the past year to focus on the longevity of the GSA. Electing me as President for the GSA will mean improving the Graduate students’ accessibility to resources, the creation of a stronger governing body and the development of an improved Graduate student experience.