It has come to the attention of the SGPS that over the weekend some students decided to attend a party with a theme that was insensitive and inappropriate. The SGPS strongly opposes parties and social gatherings that seek to make light of the novel coronavirus. More importantly, it is important that all members of the Queen’s and SGPS community feel supported and included on campus and in the community. We recognize the impacts of this virus particularly on the Chinese and Asian communities. The SGPS would like to echo the message of Principal Deane and call on all members of the Queen’s community to reject fear, misinformation and false assumptions. We would like to remind the community to be compassionate to those who have been affected by this virus and cognizant of the impacts of this illness on other parts of the world. Specifically, to members of the Chinese and Asian student community on campus, the SGPS will do its utmost to respond to concerns and is here to support you along with all students on campus. If you feel affected by this incident and require support, please do not hesitate to reach out to the support services available on campus, including our own Graduate Peer Support Centre and Peer Academic Advisors Program. Additionally, the SGPS Equity and Diversity Commissioner and the SGPS International Commissioner are always available to speak with students who have questions or concerns. Concerned students can also reach out to QUIC’s International Student Advisors and Queen’s Intercultural Advisor. Finally, resources after hours and over the weekend for students include Empower Me and Good2Talk. To learn more about the novel coronavirus check out Queen’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety, the World Health Organization, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Statement.
On January 14, 2020, SGPS Council voted to sign onto Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change’s (“QBACC”) call for Queen’s University to divest from fossil fuels. At the same council meeting, the SGPS council also voted to begin the process to divest the SGPS’s investments from fossil fuels. Both votes were the culmination of months of debate and discussion. These decisions were not taken lightly by the SGPS. It was noted by council members that funding from fossil fuel companies in Canada directly supports students, research and the development of green technology. Nevertheless, the SGPS recognizes that immediate and bold action needs to be taken by all sectors of society to tackle climate change. We hope that by joining QBACC’s petition, Queen’s University will take the appropriate steps moving forward and commit to combating climate change. 2019 – 2020 SGPS Executive
On January 17, 2019, Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (“MTCU”) announced the “first ever province-wide tuition reduction.” Within that announcement, the MTCU also announced a new protocol known as the Student Choice Initiative (“SCI”). The purpose of the SCI is to “… ensure students have transparency and freedom of choice regarding the campus services and organizations which get access to their money.” The protocol states that only certain fees can be considered mandatory fees and unfortunately, several fees which were previously mandatory are now considered optional. This includes the SGPS society fee. This means that for the first time in the history of the organization, students who are assessed the SGPS society fee can opt out of it, effectively choosing whether or not they want to remain a member of the SGPS. The SGPS is proud to supply our members with a new and fantastic Health and Dental plan; event insurance for our faculty/departmental societies; a robust bursaries and grants program; social events; health and wellness initiatives; access to peer support services including the Peer Academic Advisor Program (formerly known as the Student Advisor Program); as well as representation and advocacy for our members across the University. The SCI has already made a serious impact on the SGPS as we prepare for the potential loss of funds used to run events, fund our grants and bursaries, and provide services. We have had to make some very hard decisions in order to ensure that the SGPS can survive these changes. While these decisions have been very difficult to make, our focus has always been and will remain on protecting our member-driven services and ensuring that we maintain our active advocacy and resources for SGPS members on campus. The SGPS has existed since 1963 when it was just a club under the AMS. Although we have grown and changed, our dedication to the personal and professional success of our members remains constant. We hope that you will continue to remain a member of the SGPS and we look forward to serving and advocating for you for many years to come. Sincerely, Jeremy Ambraska, President Abel Hazon, VP Finance and Services Leo Erlikhman, VP Graduate Ryan Adlem, VP Professional