About the BISC Grad Caucus

Our constitution is available here.


The purpose of the Caucus is to discuss issues important to Biology grad students, including equity, diversity, and inclusivity; funding, space issues, and development on Burnaby Mountain. The Caucus is also responsible for planning social and educational events, including the BISC Grad Symposium and various socials. The Caucus does not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, religion, physical or mental disability, or ancestry or place of origin.


The Caucus meets monthly in the Biology Grad Lounge on the 7000-level of Biology.


The Graduate Student Society provides the Caucus with approximately $600 to $800 per semester (depending on enrolment; up-to-date amounts found here) to fund socials and other events and to buy supplies.


Every grad student in Biology is a member of the Biology Grad Caucus.


Committee representatives and other positions generally volunteer at Caucus meetings when an opening arises. If there is more than one volunteer, an election is held for that position.

See the Contact page to see who currently holds the positions described below.

The Steering Committee

is responsible for the general "running" of the Caucus. The Steering Committee is generally elected at the last general meeting of the Spring semester (end of April). It is made up of 5 members:

The Chair

is responsible for chairing all caucus meetings, hosting the annual (sometimes biannual) Grad-Hosted Speaker, representing caucus views to other university entities, holding elections, and ensuring the Constitution is followed and caucus decisions are carried out.


Two key documents to describe the position and help guide Chairs (Chairs: please update these documents each year!) GUIDE DOCUMENT -> here and here.

The Associate Chair

assists the Chair in all duties and responsibilities, particularly social event planning.

The Treasurer

handles all of the money issues, including organizing the yearly SFSS Travel Grant Lottery, and organizes the graduate student directory. More about the role GUIDE DOCUMENT -> here.

The Secretary

takes the minutes of the meetings.

The Member-at-Large

takes over any of the above positions when the Chair, Secretary, or Treasurer "cannot fulfill their duties" (i.e., if they are sick or in the field). The member-at-large is someone who has held one of the above positions in the past - so that there's some semblance of continuity to the Caucus Steering Committee.


The caucus has initiated, and is responsible for certain programs and events. These each need someone to organize and oversee their implementation. These positions are not part of the Steering Committee (not required according to the Constitution), and may be filled by any member of the Caucus (i.e., any Grad Student).

Events Committee Officers (3)

organizes social events for BISC grad students. More about the role GUIDE DOCUMENT -> here.

Workshop Committee

This committee came together in 2018 to fill gaps in SFU's grad student support network. We organize workshops based on student need; if there's any part of student life you want to learn more about, let us know and we'll make it happen! If you have a topic you'd like to present on, we can help you design a workshop, book a space, and provide snacks. Previous workshop topics include: How to find funding at SFU, CV writing, Sexual violence prevention and support, and Mental health support.


maintains this website, manages the mail lists and administers the Facebook group.


Graduate students are allowed representation on other Departmental and University committees. Any member of the Caucus (i.e., any grad student) is eligible to fill any of these positions.The Caucus has representatives on the following Departmental and University committees:
  • Departmental Graduate Studies Committee (DGSC): see below
  • Departmental Scholarship Committee: More about the role GUIDE DOCUMENT ->here.
  • Faculty Meeting Rep: Attends and makes short statements (3-4 mins) at Departmental Faculty Meetings
  • Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) Stewardattends TSSU Meetings
  • Graduate Student Society (GSS)attends GSS Meetings

Departmental Graduate Studies Committee (DGSC)

The DGSC is the Biology Departmental Graduate Studies Committee. Every graduate department at SFU has a DGSC, with the composition varying considerably. Biology has two student representatives and six faculty members (chair of the department, chair of DGSC, & four faculty members) that make up the DGSC; see this page for the current members and their term dates. Term lengths are two years long, except for the department chair who is an ex-officio member of the committee for the duration of their position. The department chair usually does not attend DGSC meetings except in special circumstances. All eight members have full voting rights, so in biology the students have a big say in what passes across the DGSC table. The DGSC meets once a month (except for a break in summer), in which the student reps bring up any issues raised by students and/or in caucus meetings, and also report the outcomes at caucus meetings. Below is a list of items that the DGSC deals with on a regular basis. Some items are only handled by the DGSC chair.

Responsibilities of the DGSC Chair:

  1. Monitoring and reviewing yearly student progress reports
  2. Quality control of directed readings courses
  3. Approval of leave of absences or extensions
  4. Approval of NSERC travel awards
  5. Approval of supervisory committees
  6. Approval of defences and examining committees
  7. Review of PhD candidacy exams

Responsibilities of the DSGC:

  1. Reviewing all applications to the MSc, MET, MPM, and PhD programs
  2. Reviewing all applications for transfer from the masters to the doctorate program
  3. Approval of new graduate courses
  4. Any problems pertaining to student funding, miscommunication with supervisor/committee members, harassment etc.
  5. Approval of qualifying semesters
  6. Regulating the minimum guaranteed stipend level for graduate students
  7. Changing any requirements of the graduate degree programs
Any other issues pertaining to graduate students are dealt with either solely by the chair or as a committee, depending on the issue at hand. The student reps are available to answer or counsel ANYONE on ANY of the above items. All issues discussed are confidential and therefore do not have to be brought forth to the DGSC or chair unless the student wishes to do so. If you are just looking for some advice and want to run some ideas by your reps then please feel free to do so at any time.