Since November 2017, I have served as the speaker of the Graduate Student Association (GSA) Council.
The GSA Council is the body responsible for determining the official positions of the GSA as they relate to academic and political representation of University of Waterloo Graduate Students.
During this time, members of the GSA Council and Executive have worked together to substantially increase council participation, revitalize the GSA’s political positions, vocalize formal support for the unionization of graduate TAs, RAs, and sessional instructors, and engage collaboratively with members of campus administration to advance and protect the interests of graduate students at the University of Waterloo.
One of the most important decisions made by the GSA Council came on March 4, 2020, when members of Council provided their endorsement for Sara Marsh and Twesh Upadhyaya, both of whom are seeking to be nominated as graduate student representatives on the university’s Senate.
The Senate has the power to enact bylaws and establish committees and councils that impact the strategic direction of campus.
In other words, this governance body significantly influences all aspects of campus life – and ensuring that graduate student interests are effectively advocated within the Senate chambers, is important to all members of our community. To that end, it is worth providing a quick overview of Sara and Twesh.
Sara Marsh is a PhD student within the Germanic Studies program, and her research is focused on studying language ideologies in foreign language education.
Sara has been actively involved in our campus community for over five years, during which time she has worked as a TA, RA, and Sessional Instructor.
Sara’s international academic experience coupled with her experience in the public sector, has prompted her to get involved in student life at the University of Waterloo. She led a successful campaign to stop cuts to graduate space within her department, and has provided articulate and actionable guidance to the GSA on a number of issues impacting the graduate student experience.
Sara has voiced her desire to advance the political positions of the GSA at the Senate level – with the aim of advancing equitable treatment of graduate students, graduate student mental wellness services, campus sustainability initiatives, and access to graduate education within Ontario.
Twesh Upadhyaya is a MSc student in Physics.
He has extensive experience in student governance via student societies and university roles.
His experience includes serving as a student governor at the University of Toronto, on the UofT Engineering Society Board of Directors, and as a Director of the UW GSA (with specific involvement on the Board’s Executive and Audit and Risk Committees). Twesh will fight for clearer explanation of the criteria of the TA allocation process, as well as earlier completion of the final lists to allow graduate students and their supervisors to plan accordingly.
He supports increased clarity with regards to funding and fees, including assurance regarding annual contracts, rather than just term-by-term funding. Additionally, he is interested in expanding the availability of graduate on-campus housing.
Council is confident in the ability of Sara and Twesh to advance graduate student interests at the University of Waterloo as graduate student representatives on Senate.
We encourage all graduate students to strongly consider supporting these candidates in the upcoming senate election.
The voting period for full-time and part-time graduate students will run from Thursday March 12th to Wednesday March 18th by electronic ballot.
Each graduate student will receive an email from uWaterloo administration with a direct link to the ballot.