Governance Resources for SGPS Member Departments and Faculties

The SGPS can help departments under our membership create and maintain their own student-run governance structures. This student-run governance is not just powerful, but also crucial, as it fosters community building and serves as the most important collective voice for student concerns to be heard at the department level.

How to Start a Departmental Student Council

Your first step is to create a constitution for your group. This will be the governing document for everything your group does moving forward.

Here is a guiding document to help you build your governing documents.
The SGPS warmly thanks the Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Association for serving as the exemplar in this document.

Once your governing document is created, you may want to have the SGPS review it to ensure that it covers everything it needs and that the contents suit your needs. Please contact director@sgps.ca so they can review it for you.

Once the review is complete and you are satisfied with your constitution, it will need to be accepted by your membership (aka the graduate or professional students within your department), and you will need to establish your Executive board. Both can be accomplished through the election and referendum process, as outlined in the next section.

Elections and Referendums for Departmental Student Councils

The SGPS facilitates elections and referendums for department student councils that fall under its membership. It does this through SimplyVoting, our platform for running our elections and referendum process. SimplyVoting is a Canadian company that takes election integrity and data security seriously.

What is a referendum?
A referendum is a direct vote involving the members of the group that will be affected by the outcome of a decision. For example, a referendum is required by your departmental student council to establish your governing documents. Another example of a referendum could be if your departmental student council wants to try to collect a student fee to offset the cost of running events throughout the year. In both examples, the outcome will affect everyone who falls under the department student council membership; hence, a referendum is required.

If you would like the SGPS to faciliate your referendum, you will need to contact director@sgps.ca three weeks in advance of your referendum dates with the following information:

  • A list of all eligible voters, including first names, last names, and QueensU email addresses. For the Queen’s email addresses, we need the NetID email addresses (i.e., [netid]@queensu.ca, not [name]@queensu.ca) because SimplyVoting is integrated with the Queen’s NetID sign-in system.
    • Your departmental/graduate assistant should be able to supply all this information to you. If they have any questions or concerns, ask them to contact director@sgps.ca directly.
  • A timeline of your voting days (i.e. voting starts on [date] at [time] and ends on [date] at [time].
    • Please note that we cannot guarantee that your preferred times will be accepted. That said, we will do our best to accommodate you.
  • The document with the question(s) you would like to have answered. SimplyVoting allows us to post a short (100-word) blurb regarding the question and we can also provide direct links to supporting information within that blurb. If you wish to utilize that feature, you must submit the blurb and links when you submit the document with the question(s) you would like to have answered.
    Once we receive that submission, we are unable to alter it, so please make sure that your submission is complete and correct..
  • Once your referendum is concluded, we will send you the results via a certified PDF that looks like this: https://sgps.ca/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/24-25SGPSElectionReferendumResults.pdf.
    • If your referendum involve establishing a student fee, the SGPS Executive Director will contact you with more information.

If you would like the SGPS to faciliate your election, you will need to contact director@sgps.ca three weeks in advance of your election dates with the following information:

  • A list of all eligible voters, including first names, last names, and QueensU email addresses. For the Queen’s email addresses, we need the NetID email addresses (i.e., [netid]@queensu.ca, not [name]@queensu.ca) because SimplyVoting is integrated with the Queen’s NetID sign-in system.
    • Your departmental/graduate assistant should be able to supply all this information to you. If they have any questions or concerns, ask them to contact director@sgps.ca directly.
  • A timeline of your voting days (i.e. voting starts on [date] at [time] and ends on [date] at [time].
    • Please note that we cannot guarantee that your preferred times will be accepted. That said, we will do our best to accommodate you.
  • A list of the positions being sought and the candidates for each position. SimplyVoting allows us to post a short (100-word) bio and photo for each candidate. If you wish to utilize that feature, you must submit the photo and bio when you submit the candidates’ names and positions sought.
    Once we receive that submission, we are unable to alter it, so please make sure your candidates are aware that once they submit their photos and bios, they cannot be changed.
  • Once your election is concluded, we will send you the results via a certified PDF that looks like this: https://sgps.ca/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/24-25SGPSElectionReferendumResults.pdf.
Departmental Student Councils and SGPS Council Representation

Your departmental student council can use the SGPS elections process to elect your SGPS Council representative. Using the SGPS elections process allows departments to meet the requirement laid out in SGPS Bylaw and Policy, specifically P.7.2.c which states “Council representatives must be selected to Council by their respective departments” in a clear and transparent way.

If your department chooses not to utilize the SGPS election process to select your council representative, the department will be required to provide evidence to the Officers of SGPS Council that the representative was selected for the position through a consultative democratic process.

Council representatives must be elected by September 30th each year.