Declarations of formal positions of the GSA are authorized by Council.
Graduate Student Funding
Adopted: July 17, 2007
Council declares it to be the official position of the GSA that net student funding (defined as total funding minus tuition fees, mandatory incidental fees and taxes) should be at a level not lower than the cost of living in Waterloo for all research-based graduate students. The GSA's focus on net student funding implies that individual components of the funding / tuition equation should not be treated in isolation, but rather in the context of all factors affecting the student support picture.
- Research-based graduate students contribute significantly to the research output of the University, and for this they deserve to be adequately compensated.
- A student's financial situation is affected by a balance of positive factors such as scholarships, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships and negative factors such as tuition fees and taxes.
- Failure by the University to ensure that net funding covers reasonable living costs may force a student to take on additional paid work outside the University not relevant to his / her academic career. This could detract from the quantity and quality of time a student can spend performing research and contribute to a lengthened completion time.
- If cuts or freezes to tuition fees undermine the University's ability to offer internal scholarships or teaching assistantships, they have the potential to harm students who rely on these sources of funding.
- The makeup of funding packages varies among departments, with some departments relying more on some sources than on others. If one source of funding is increased at the expense of others, this has the potential to benefit some students while harming others.
Graduate Student Space Allocation
Council declares it to be the official position of the GSA that each full-time graduate student who is engaged in teaching or research should be assigned a desk with enough working space for a computer, paperwork, and storage of research-related documents. The space should be secure such that the graduate student can leave sensitive items, such as final exams, in the office. As well, this space should be independent of any “wet” research lab in which a grad student is a participant.
Every graduate student should have unrestricted access to a computer, whether in the form of a grad student computer lab, dedicated personal terminal, or other option. It is the responsibility of the department to ensure that such access is provided.
Further, it is the position of the GSA that graduate student office space should be centered on a graduate student’s research group. It is also expected that a student’s space be reasonably close to her supervisor, in the same building if possible.
For common space, a shared break room with faculty is preferred to separate rooms.
- Students engaged in teaching or research need a reasonable amount of desk space in order to perform these duties. Marking many large piles of exams or assignments requires a somewhat large desk which should be dedicated to the graduate student for security reasons given the nature of marking.
- Conducting research results in the accumulation of documents such as reference books and notes, requiring a dedicated space for storage.
- It is realistic to assume that a large part of the work done by graduate students will be done at a computer, and while some departments used shared computing facilities for graduate students, it is important for the departments to provide enough computing resources such that a student should not be obligated to purchase their own computer, putting further financial stress on a graduate student.
- Recent surveys have shown that one of the facets of graduate student life which Waterloo excels is faculty/graduate student relations. In order to maintain this advantage, office space should be mixed between faculty and graduate students. Separate wings for the two groups would dampen relations and discourage intermingling. A student also needs to have access to their professor in order to facilitate a productive relationship, for which a long distance would be a physical barrier.
Sustainability at the University of Waterloo
Council declares it to be the official position of the GSA that the University of Waterloo should consider the long-term environmental sustainability of its operations to be a top priority and that all units should explore initiatives intended to make their activities more sustainable. A mechanism should exist to monitor these efforts and to facilitate the sharing of best practices on sustainability issues on campus.
- Reductions in longterm energy or material costs will free more of the university's operating budget to be spent on academic priorities, and reduce the financial pressure to increase tuition fees.
- The University of Waterloo has the potential to become a community and national leader if it proceeds with initiatives such as green building design, green power sources, increased campus naturalization, demand-side transportation planning, sustainable food and community education programs.
- Given the decentralized administrative structure of the university, some form of central monitoring is necessary to gauge the university's success on this issue. For the same reason, a mechanism for sharing best practices is needed to ensure that a good idea developed by one unit propagates throughout the university.
Graduate Student Housing at the University of Waterloo
Council declares it to be the official position of the GSA that graduate student housing should continue to be an area of development to the Department of Housing and Residences at the University of Waterloo. In particular, aside from access for all graduate students to on-campus housing, focus should be placed upon housing allocation for out- of-province and international graduate students. Additionally, targeted marketing of available social and academic services available in residence as well as off-campus housing-related resources would be an important component to achieving the desired focus on graduate students.
- Graduate students require safe, reliable and affordable housing options that allow them to focus their time and energy on their scholarly pursuits.
- Graduate students are not always in a position to search for housing before they arrive at UW; this is especially true for international and out-of-province graduate students. They need to be able to trust that residence is a good choice, or that the off-campus listing service is user-friendly and trustworthy.
- There are many services offered to both on- and off-campus students that go unnoticed or under-utilized, such as grocery shuttles, online housing listings, counselling, social events, etc.
Multi-stakeholder Oversight Committee
WHEREAS the interests of the University community can only be fully known with the participation of members of the University community; and,
WHEREAS the participation of members of the University must, as a safeguard for their interests, go beyond consultation to include active involvement in deliberation and decision-making, which requires access to relevant information equal to that of other participants; therefore, be it
RESOLVED that the GSA Council adopt an official position in favour of a multi-stakeholder oversight committee to determine, as the need arises, the presence of risks to, and appropriate courses of action to protect, “the legitimate interests of the University and/or of the University community”; and be it further
RESOLVED that the membership of this committee include University of Waterloo governors, senators, and administrators, faculty members, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students, each appointed by the appropriate body of which they are constitutive.
Enhancing Strategic Collaboration between the University and the Association
WHEREAS the Graduate Student Association of the University of Waterloo (“the Association”) is the sole representative of all graduate students at the University of Waterloo (“the University”); and,
WHEREAS the Association, through its agents, is often called on to make decisions on behalf of graduate students at the University with respect to new investments, expenditures, fees, and fee increases proposed by the University; therefore be it
RESOLVED that the University share with the Association, early on and throughout the development of its proposals, complete information on its proposals, including background, context, alternatives, and short- and long-term impacts, positive and negative; and be it further
RESOLVED that if the Association does not approve a proposal by the University for a new investment or expenditure then the University will not require graduate students at the University to contribute to any associated one-time or ongoing fees; and be it further
RESOLVED that the University involve the Association at a strategic level in collaboratively generating, assessing the value of, and prioritizing proposals for the improvement of the University.
Financial Accessibility of Education and Academic Employment
WHEREAS financial accessibility to higher education remains a challenge for many people due to rising education and living costs and inadequate funding; and,
WHEREAS graduate students should be allowed to work as many hours as they deem appropriate for their circumstances;
WHEREAS academic employment, such as a teaching or research assistant, is a valuable part of professional development; therefore be it
RESOLVED students should not be required to take non-academic work to afford their education and living costs; and be it further
RESOLVED that the GSA Council call on the Federal Government, the Provincial Government, and the University of Waterloo to redouble their efforts to make higher education financially accessible to all.