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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 funding, space issues, and development on Burnaby Mountain. The Caucus is also responsible for planning social and educational events, including the BISC Grad Symposium, the Biodiversity Hunt, and various socials, and for providing door prizes for the annual Departmental Holiday Party. In addition, the Caucus organizes an annual lottery to distribute Graduate Student Society Travel Grants for travel to conferences.


The Caucus meets the third Wednesday of every month (with the exception of December) in the Biology Grad Lounge on the 7000-level of Biology.


The Graduate Student Society provides the Caucus with $717 per semester to fund socials and other events and to buy supplies.


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


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, and more importantly, supplying food for the meetings. The Chair is also the Caucus representative on the Department's Holiday Party Committee.

The Associate Chair

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

The Secretary

takes the minutes of the meetings.

The Treasurer

handles all of the money issues, including organizing the yearly SFSS Travel Grant Lottery, and organizes the graduate student directory.

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);
  • Webmaster (for this web site).


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:

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.

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. 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, with both student reps reporting the outcome of each meeting at caucus meetings. Below is a list of items that the DGSC deals with on a regular basis. In some cases, the chair of the DGSC is the only member to review the issue at hand (indicated by *).


  1. reviewing all applications to the MSc, MET, MPM, and PhD programs
  2. monitoring and reviewing yearly student progress reports *
  3. reviewing all applications for transfer from the masters to the doctorate program
  4. quality control of directed readings courses *
  5. approval of leave of absences or extensions *
  6. approval of new graduate courses
  7. approval of NSERC travel awards *
  8. Any problems pertaining to student funding, miscommunication with supervisor/committee members, harrassment etc.
  9. approval of qualifying semesters
  10. approval of supervisory committes *
  11. approval of defences and examining committees *
  12. review of PhD candidacy exams
  13. regulating the amount of funding supervisors pay their graduate students. For 2004 the amount is $9000 pay per year per MSc, MPM or PhD student and a full semester of funding for MET students during their "project or research" semester
  14. * Any other issues pertaining to graduate students, 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.