Last Friday, the preliminary results of the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) elections were released, naming Juan Camilo Pinto as Secretary-General. Pinto ran unopposed for the position and was part of a slate of executives running under the same platform, all of whom were elected. Four of the seven referendum questions brought to vote passed, including increased funding for the grants program, and a renewal of funding for the health and dental plan.
The elections saw a turnout of 1,102 voters, or 13.6 per cent of those eligible to vote. The results are not yet final and may be contested within the next three days if pertaining to an individual candidate, or seven days if there are criticisms of the process as a whole.
The only position that was not uncontested was that of Academic Affairs Officer, for which Jennifer Murray was selected. “I worked really hard on this,” Murray told The Daily. “So it’s nice to know that I can do the job.”
In her platform, Murray stated that she wants to increase access to library resources, to improve student-supervisor relationships, and to bring together graduate students from different departments.
Aside from Murray, all the executives who were elected had campaigned under a single platform, also known as a slate candidacy.
“When we found out most of us were running unopposed, we started talking and figuring out what we [wanted] to do for next year,” explained Nikki Meadows, who was elected as Financial Affairs Officer. “We have a lot of really fun and exciting things planned, so hopefully we’ll be able to put them in action really soon.”
“Slate election doesn’t happen very often in PGSS,” added GeSa, newly-elected Internal Affairs Officer. “It’s great that we’ve got a common platform. We all got elected so that we can carry on that common platform which we promised to our voters.”
The incoming executives plan to focus on a set of issues that they feel are most relevant to PGSS members, including independence from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), revising the grant policy, and improved mental health services for graduate students.
Meadows explained that one of her main objectives will be to revise the grant policy. “I think right now [the] wonderful projects that grants are submitted for aren’t getting funded because [of] the way the grant policy is currently written,” she told The Daily. “They are not given as high a priority as other projects that in spirit are probably not as exciting.”
“Since my position is kind of political,” Julien Ouelett, newly-elected External Affairs Officer, told The Daily, “I will base my strategy […] on the results of the provincial elections.”
Ouelett said that he also plans to lobby the government concerning the PGSS lawsuit against the CFS.
Brigita Lungu, newly-elected Member Services Officer, was not available to make a statement to The Daily at the time the election results were released.
The referendum questions passed include standard renewals of the health and dental plan, a fee levy to fund Midnight Kitchen, a new fee for the bursary fund, and increased fees for the PGSS grants program. However, fee increases for the athletics fund, graduate applications, and PGSS membership were all voted down.
“The only [referendum] that I’m sad [about] that didn’t pass, because we need it, was the membership fee,” Pinto told The Daily. “We needed that one to pay for the lease of Thomson House.”
Overall, current PGSS Secretary-General Jonathan Mooney said that he was pleased with how the elections turned out. “We’re going to have a great team next year,” said Mooney, “and [I’m] looking forward to seeing all that they accomplish.”