Sunday, March 27, 2011

So you want to be a caucus executive: What is there to do?

Hi grads

We need people to take on executive positions in the biology graduate caucus for 2011-2012.  This email will describe what the positions are, how you can get involved, and why you should get involved.

These are jobs that have one to two year terms that put you in a position of responsibility in our student government.  2010-2011 was a great year for the caucus - we hosted many events, the events were very relevant, and we acted on a wide range of advocacy issues particularly with regards to scholarships.  Let's build a team that can make the 2011-2012 year even better.

There are descriptions available for each position in the caucus constitution (ttp:// but I wanted to give a "plain English" version to make it less technical.  For all positions, the executive currently holding the position can help you get up and running when the positions start on May 1.  

For most positions, it's okay if you are going to be in the field for part of the year.  If you have specific questions about this feel free to email me.

Advantages to taking on a caucus position:

- Great for your CV, particularly when applying to NSERC
- Learn a lot about the inner workings of the biology department and how decisions get made about things like scholarships
- Meet other grad students who you wouldn't otherwise meet
- Gain experience managing some aspect of a functioning student society (such as large project management, minute-taking, meeting procedures, etc.)  I can honestly say that I've picked up transferrable skills working with this group.

You can nominate people (or yourself) until Tuesday April 12.  Send me all nominations.

Campaigning (for contested positions) will happen from April 13 to April 19

The election itself will take place Wednesday April 20.  Only people present at the meeting can vote.

One-year positions (May 1 2011 to April 30 2012)

1. Chair

- General leadership role in the caucus
- Organize and call meetings (and associated responsibilities like forming the agenda and such)
- Chairs the meetings, keeping them on topic and on time
- Doesn't get to vote on motions, but if it's a tie you get to cast a tie-breaker
- High-level organization of the caucus (e.g. forming long-term plans, ensuring people are responsible for tasks within the group)
- Represents the caucus to the greater campus community.  If the caucus were ever to receive a large novelty cheque, this would be the person that poses for the picture.
- Runs the elections

2. Associate chair

- Same responsibilities as chair, but the buck doesn't stop with you, so it may be slightly less intimidating
- Also doesn't get to vote, except if there's a tie

3. Secretary

- Take minutes at meetings
- Ensure that meetings are sent to the Graduate Student Society after each caucus meeting

4. Treasurer

- Handle caucus finances
- Responsible for keeping track of our caucus accounts and

5. Webmaster

- Maintain the caucus website and keep it up to date

6.  Member at Large

-  Attends caucus meetings and is available to help with miscillaneous tasks

7.  Events Committee Officer (up to 3)

- Each officer will probably organize and run no more than one event
- We didn't have one of these this year, and it was a shame.  This year's grad caucus ran many events, but the organizers of the events were not event committee officers.  This means that they had all the responsibility of organizing events but didn't get to put on their CV that they held an executive position. 

8.  Faculty Mole

- Attends faculty meetings and reports to the caucus about what happened

9.  Graduate Student Society council representative

- This is a special position where you go to GSS meetings and represent the biology caucus (sort of like an MP in the Canadian Parliament)
- In this position you get to vote on GSS issues that affect all graduate students
- There is a stipend for attending GSS meetings as the GSS rep.

10.  Alternate GSS council representative

- Very low time commitment - you only go to GSS council meetings if the main council rep is unable to attend.

11.  Teaching Support Staff Union Steward

- Represents biology grad students to the TSSU, attends TSSU meetings.

12.  International student representative

- Represents the international student community at caucus meetings.

Two-year positions (May 1 2011 to April 30 2013)

1.  Departmental Scholarship Committee representative

- Serves as the students' link to the DSC
- Evaluates scholarship applications of fellow students
- Acts as the primary source of information for biology grad students regarding how the DSC functions.

2.  Departmental Graduate Studies Committee representative

- Attends DGSC meetings
- Serves as a liason between grad students and the DGSC, updates the caucus on the DGSC goings-on

Hope to see the nominations rolling in soon!

Brett Favaro, caucus chair

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Monday, March 21 caucus meeting to discuss alleged shenanigans in the GSS election

Hi grads

As outlined by Thomas, there have been allegations of problems with the GSS election.  All students are invited to meet at 10:30 AM, Monday March 21 in the 7000 level biology graduate lounge to share your thoughts on the allegations below.

As this is a last-minute special meeting, we will only discuss this particular issue to keep the meeting short.

Brett, caucus chair
Dear BISC grads,
An emergency Council meeting has been called to address concerns over the current GSS elections. Graduate student members are welcome to attend.

Subject: Fwd: Agenda for Emergency Council Meeting
Good afternoon everyone,
Please find attached the agenda for the Emergency Council Meeting that will be held on Monday, March 21 2011, at 2:00 - 4:00 PM.
The meeting will take place in the Maggie Benston Centre, in rooms 2290 and 2292 (behind the SFSS Copy Centre).
Raged Anwar, who is our current Operations & Finance Officer, will act, if approved by Council, as the Speaker of the meeting.
The attached agenda is based on the agenda that Health Sciences representative Sarah Chown had proposed, but, adjusted to reflect what Council can and cannot do.
The Electoral Committee has been invited to take part in the meeting to provide additional information and responses to concerns that have been voiced.
The concerns from Caucuses and Councillors will provide the opportunity for all members present to share their personal thoughts, or those of their Caucus, regarding the electoral process, the regulations and bylaws regarding the elections, and identifying opportunities to improve the process and rules for the future.
The motion regarding whether there has been an infraction of the by-laws is presented in the negative specifically to not presume blame.  It will require a mover and seconder, and will be voted upon by Council.
The second motion regarding whether Council wishes to recall the current members of the Electoral Committee will also require a mover and seconder to go forward, and will be voted upon by Council.
The Next Steps is an opportunity for future actions to be proposed by Council.  Please note that these steps must also fit within the purview of what is allowed in the By-laws and regulations.
Graduate students members are welcome; however, if we do not reach quorum (15 Councillors or Alternates), the meeting cannot take place officially.
To clarify, there are no "in camera" items listed in the agenda.  Only Council can vote to go "in camera" and even if that occurs, no motions may be moved or voted on while "in camera".
Please do feel free to circulate this to Caucus members as you see fit.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Correction: Caucus will meet this Wednesday March 16, 3:30 to 4:30 PM 7000 level biology grad lounge

Hi grads

It turns out there are a few people who couldn't make it next Wednesday.  We came up with the idea of switching meeting times to facilitate reimbursements for the grad hosted speaker event, but we'll change it back to the normal time, this Wednesday 3:30 to 4:30.

Consequently, one of our important meeting issues will be to pre-approve expenses for the grad hosted speaker.

Other important issues:
- Notice of elections - Caucus executive positions are coming back up for election.  In keeping with the caucus constitution the incumbent chair (that's me) must give at least one months' notice of election, so I will officially give that at the meeting this week.  Nominations will be open until Tuesday April 12, and then campaigning will be permitted from Wednesday April 13 to Tuesday April 19, and then the election will take place on Wednesday April 20, the final caucus meeting of the semester. 

I will not be running for re-election, so you won't have to go up against my well-oiled campaign machine.  In the past, very few people have run, and there are therefore many positions that are assigned without a race.  This is a great way to build up your CV, learn something about student government at SFU, and meet people within the department.

- Publishing workshop #2 is coming up.  We need volunteers, so come lend a hand in return for a shiny "community service" line on your CV

- Discussion of the caucus' position on the President's Research Stipend

Please review the attached draft agenda and get back to me with additions.

Also, B9242 is occupied, so we will meet in the 7000 level biology graduate lounge at 3:30 to 4:30 PM.

Brett Favaro, caucus chair

Caucus meeting will be NEXT Wednesday the 23rd, not this week

Hi grads

Just a notice - instead of holding our caucus meeting this Wednesday, we'll hold off and have the meeting  next Wednesday the 23rd so that we can do a proper wrap-up of the grad-hosted speaker.
Brett Favaro, caucus chair