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S.F.U. Biology Graduate Caucus

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Biology Grad Caucus Meeting Minutes

November 05, 2004

In Attendance: Tim Hazard, Allison Henderson, Joline Widermeyer, Niki Cook, Jason Catterson, Jonathan Whiteley, Charlotte Voss, Christiana Cheng, Sandra Webster, Aaron Wirsing, Jeff Christie, Raul Ursic, Keith Tierney, Andrea Pomeroy.

  1. Welcome
    • Andrea welcomed all; new caucus members were introduced.


  2. Christmas Party

    a. A general discussion ensued on the event and its history. This year it will likely take place on Thursday, Dec. 16th.

    b. Many caucus members will be absent. Andrea will determine if the event can be held earlier.

    c. Arne Mooers approached the Caucus about organizing entertainment for the event. Last year’s ‘Tony awards’ were a success, as were lab songs. Could each lab create a fun song or do a skit? Andrea – Dawn Cooper suggested doing an impromptu skit where faculty members could play alternate roles. Some props and a script could be provided. Andrea – Dawn Cooper was keen to head up event, and is looking for people to get together with. Charlotte Voss and Reza volunteered. Andrea will send out an email to solicit other offers.

    d. Typically caucus donates door prizes for the event. Faith Rapchuk has asked Caucus to donate $200 or the equivalent in prizes. In previous years, Caucus has donated $100. Andrea will talk to Faith about whether items or cash will be better received. In previous year, staff purchased items. Christiana Cheng will check into finances to determine how much is available.

    i) Andrea put forth a motion to donate $100 or $200, contingent on available funds and last year’s amount.

    ii) Moved by Andrea; seconded by Sandra Webster; carried

    e. General discussion ensued on possible volunteers for Santa

  3. NSERC Travel Awards

    Joline Widemeyer gave her report:
    a. (See the minutes of September for review of existing procedure and objections)

    b. This semester, money was gone within 1st week of applications. Double the number of applicants were received. Joline will send out a survey in next week to determine the number of successful applicants. Please ensure that you respond.

    c. With proposed changes, the goal is to increase fairness of recipients, prevent the conference acceptance letter from delaying applicants. A departmental screen can also be completed, e.g. 1 per MSc, 2 per PhD. Perhaps a random draw (by Dean’s office) will work in situations where there are excess applications. New procedure will have to limit work for Dean’s office. The Dean does not foresee changing the existing policy.

  4. TSSU News

    Christiana Cheng gave her report:

    a. Currently we are negotiating a new contract. We have put forth a request for tuition waver and paid benefits. The tuition waver would be similar to that of UBC PhD students. However, given SFU has already taken away $70 tuition credit, and is threatening to remove all TA benefits. A positive outcome is not likely.

    b. TSSU support buttons have been placed in mailroom. Please wear these. Also, please offer suggestions for raising awareness. At UBC, students played hockey in president’s driveway, and had breakfast sales. This may have contributed to successful outcome.

    c. Currently, tuition is up 100%, while wages are only up 4%.

    d. Students must have MSP coverage prior to getting extended benefits. Ontario fees are no longer going to be waived.

    e. Joline Widemeyer offered that routine physicals are no longer covered by MSP. General objections were noted.

  5. News From Other Committees

    a. Andrea for Dawn Cooper – the graduate coffee room / lounge is moving ahead, and will soon be available for a variety of meetings, including lab and Caucus meetings. The room will feature many amenities.

    b. GIC. Raul Ursic requested that students complete the survey email for student-supervisory relations. Only 3 emails have been received thus far. Issues seem to focus on funding and work expectations. Andrea Pomeroy reiterated that these should be filled out, as the surveys are items used to make decisions that can affect how the university runs.

  6. Other Business

    a. Progress reports

    i. Joline Widemeyer requested that students indicate the amount of monetary support. Approximately $9000 needs to be achieved minimally. Be very specific on amount of money received. DGSC notes students should be making $6000 per semester. Sandra Webster enquired as to what length of time students could expect support? Joline noted there is no set policy on support. It is assumed 2-3 years for MSc and ~5 for PhD. Joline will bring up the issue at next DGSC meeting. With any problems, please discuss them with Joline or Larry Dill. A form can be downloaded from Bisc website (?) to remit complaints, anonymously, if necessary.

    b. After 5 and 8 TAships, MSc and PhD respectively, priority ranking for TA assignment is lost.

    c. Brianne Addison and Allison Henderson are still working on Biology T-Shirts. There likely will be words on the shirt; current text idea is ‘I’m writing, don’t ask’. Prototype will be brought into next meeting.

    d. Jonathan Whiteley is still looking for a volunteer to take over webmaster duties.

  7. Meeting Adjourned

    a. Andrea adjourned meeting.