GGA Update

This year the Geography Graduate Association continued to grapple with the challenges that the global pandemic placed on graduate life. Zoom played host to most of our interactions, as our efforts focused on providing COVID-support to our grads, from the provision of health supplies to the diligent TSSU steward check-ins on the health & safety of graduate TAs, RAs, and Sessional Instructors at work.

The 2021-2022 academic year was one of much reflection for us on the state of the department and its future. Our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) rep worked hard to move the department forward in its EDI commitments, and designed our first EDI graduate student survey, the results of which will help to inform our future directions. Our reps on the Anti-Bullying & Harassment working group also made significant progress in crafting a department statement which builds off the department’s EDI Principles. Our TSSU reps continued to support the university-wide campaign to demand a collective agreement for our RAs who have been without a contract since their successful unionization efforts two years ago. And in March, a number of GGA members contributed to meeting with the department’s external reviewers and providing feedback and reflection on our experiences of, and ambitions for, the Geography Department.

While the pandemic once again put our annual grad retreat on hold, we were nonetheless able to host two successful socials this year. In October, we held a mini-retreat at the Stanley Park Nature House where the fall weather guided our choices of food, drink, activities, and ambiance. It was a pleasure to get out from behind the screens and see old and new faces in person for the first time in a long time. In March, we held a beachy Spring Break social at Confederation Park where we were favoured with an unseasonably warm and sunny day in keeping with our BBQ and outdoor game plans. This fun in the sun was a much needed boost to get us through to the end of the semester.

Just as we thought we had made it into the clear, however, a number of our grads fell sick with COVID in March and April as provincial rates of infection suddenly neared 50% of the population. We are on the mend now and remain hopeful for a return to in-person collaborations and conference travel for the next year!

Véronique Sioufi,
Co-President GGA on behalf of the GGA