New term for Graduate Students’ Association

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The 2016-17 management team has been announced for the Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Students’ Association.

Following the election of current president Samantha Deeming in February, vice-president positions were opened to candidates.

The process included an online application, where candidates submitted a resume and cover letter, explaining their vision for the GSA in the upcoming year and culminated in an interview process involving Deeming, Ian Muller, the outgoing president and Ellen Menage, the GSA’s executive director.

“I was looking for people to fill where my strengths aren’t, so where my weaknesses are,” said Deeming.

“I’m looking at what skills they can provide to each position and how does that help me be successful in the role of bettering the graduate student experience.”

The new team is starting off the year with a focus on small, incremental projects — certain to be achievable — rather than pushing themselves to accomplish massive projects.

“In terms of the graduate population, we’re looking at addressing gaps in the services that we currently offer and the value that we’re able to offer to the graduates and seeing what we can do to close some of the gaps in ways that haven’t been done before,” said Jessica Siegel, vice-president of student development.

“Really looking critically at what the needs of our graduate population are and keeping in mind that the graduate population is so diverse.”

This diversity is reflected not solely in the GSA’s membership population, but also within its management team members.

This has allowed the association to gain insight into the needs and desires of a myriad of students, all in an attempt to improve the graduate experience for as many of its members as possible — an effort which has not gone unnoticed.

“I am an international student, specifically. I had a pretty good experience in orientation week and all of the reservations and nervousness that I had coming into a new country from India, from so far … the whole experience was pretty wonderful,” said Debashish Mondal, vice-president of corporate services.

“So I wanted to get more involved with [the GSA] and do some things for other graduate students that come here, especially other international students.”

Along with representing a diverse group of students, the graduate student population is additionally split between faculties, programs and locales.

All of these factors can render central planning difficult, a fault the GSA plans on combatting through increased mobility and visibility across all of Laurier’s campuses.

“We’re in the midst of restructuring our strategic plans this year and so that has been one of our main focuses in developing the plan … we understand that there’s different needs across campuses and it’s not just about offering different campuses to come to Waterloo for events that we’re having,” said Natalie Gleba, vice-president of student experience.

“They don’t want to be coming to our campus, they don’t want to feel like Waterloo is the central campus. So we’re going to try focusing on campus focused events and holding different campus events for those different departments and kind of making it their own.”

The GSA has chosen to postpone the hiring of Brantford and Kitchener assistant vice-presidents in efforts to avoid the trend of hires leaving their respective campuses and are awaiting September’s new cohort of students before marketing the positions.

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