The upcoming Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) election will ask its members to consider a referendum question to allocate $150,000 to an education fund for students in financial need.
The PGSS Education Fund would be carved out of the estimated $200,000 that has accumulated in the society’s Trust Fund for Student Support (TFSS), a fund struck in the mid-1990s with the mandate to “help students whose rights have been violated.” Because of the mandate’s ambiguity, disbursement from the TFSS has been inconsistent, including funding a student’s rent for a year and funding a student lawsuit.
“With all due respect to our predecessors, the money in the TFSS could have been better used,” said PGSS President Amy Cox, who proposed the referendum question.
“We have a significant amount of money that hasn’t been used in the last decade and we can really help students with it.”
The proposed Education Fund, whose contributions would be matched by the University administration, would annually help around 20 graduate students in financial need and would be administered by the university’s Student Aid Office.
Meanwhile, the TFSS would still remain in order to help students in unexpected financial need. PGSS Council recently passed amendments to tighten up the TFSS’s mandate, in order to focus on funds for students in need of medical or legal consultation.
There appears to be resounding support for the proposed fund on PGSS Council and among candidates in the upcoming election.
“This does not mean that we do not support a full, adequate level of provincial funding for post-secondary education,” said Melanee Thomas, PGSS candidate for VP External & Governmental Affairs.
“I think the PGSS should stand firm on accessible education,” said Adrian Kaatz, also a PGSS candidate for VP External & Governmental Affairs. “[The Education Fund] isn’t a viable solution to meet postsecondary education funding.”