GSEF's COVID-19 Response

Two students wearing masks

GSEF supported graduate students throughout the pandemic

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, GSEF has been adaptive in its strategy to support graduate students. We shifted to supporting more online events, modified our application process to include health and safety plans, and allocated donations to some critical initiatives. GSEF made the following contributions in 2020: 

While the uncertainty around the pandemic persists, GSEF remains committed to its goal of enhancing the graduate student experience at Waterloo.

GSEF's COVID-19 Response

To fellow University of Waterloo graduate students:

These are challenging times for our student community. The effects of the global pandemic have yet to make their fullest impact, but what we do know is that our colleagues on campus face dramatic levels of uncertainty. Graduating students don't know if they will be able to find employment, and those who had current or summer work are left wondering what they will do to fund their education.

The Graduate Studies Endowment Fund was established to support graduate students and their educational experience. Now, more than ever, students need this sort of support. Graduate students face a unique set of challenges in this pandemic: they are more likely to have families to support; their research degrees may be delayed if they are unable to have access to campus facilities. Each group of students on campus have their own circumstances that present unique challenges. At these times, we feel it is obvious that our endowment fund must step in and offer our help by refocussing funding accordingly. To that end, we donated $5,000 to the Student Emergency Support Fund and, with contributions from the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs Offices (GSPA), have set up a Graduate Student Thesis Completion Award for soon-to-be graduating master’s and PhD students whose funding has been affected by the pandemic.

The pandemic affects all of us. Some of the most at risk are those students who will lose external funding sources as a result of COVID-19. The Graduate Student Thesis Completion Award is designed to ensure graduate students who have lost funding and will find their degree completion delayed because of the pandemic will continue to receive funding as they write their thesis, such that the overall effects on their degree timeline can be mitigated as much as possible.

The terms of the Graduate Student Thesis Completion Award are, for expediency, based on the existing eligibility conditions of the Doctoral Thesis Completion Award. Given the urgency to get the funding distributed, it was felt that this was the optimal short-term solution as alternatives would have significantly delayed its implementation. GSEF, the GSA, and the GSPA want this funding to support students for whom the award will be most impactful. I want to assure graduate students that this award will help fill the most important needs and that there is a promise for GSEF, the GSA, and the GSPA to have discussions on how we can address longer-term concerns.

COVID-19 is testing the strength of our social bonds. We must come together and face this defining challenge that affects each and every one of us.

Stay safe and stay healthy,

Matthew Robbins, GSEF Coordinator (2019-2021)