Category Archives: Research and Travel Fund

Join the GESSA Executive!

We are currently accepting applications for the GESSA Executive team! See below for the description of positions that are available. Roles begin in January 2017.

If you are interested, email with your name, year of program and statement of interest stating which role you are interested in and why by December 7th, 2016.


Description of GESSA Officer Positions:

Chair of Association
• Presides over all meetings and leads the Executive
• Votes only in the event of a tie and does not make motions during meetings
• Sits or nominates another executive member to sit on external bodies requiring GESSA representation including: the Student Representative Roundtable of the Vice-President Students; the Faculty of Environmental Studies Executive Council; the Faculty of Graduate Studies Council; and another other bodies that require representation
• Responsible for the well-being and function of the GESSA Executive

VP/Finance Officer
• Prepares the budget and oversees its allocation
• Responsible for all financial matters of the Association
• Administers the funds of the Research and Travel Fund on the advice of the RTF Officer
• Maintains the Association’s books and accounts
• Controls expenses and financial records
• Conducts a fall full audit and a winter interim audit
• Coordinates with the Centre for Student Community & Leadership Development (SCLD) which oversees our levy distribution
• Primary signer for all Association cheques

Internal Officer
• Responsible for coordinating all meetings of the Executive and the Association
• To organize the meeting dates, to book a room for all meetings, to send out an agenda call 2 weeks prior to each meeting, to send out a meeting reminder 1 week before each meeting, to write minutes and compile them for every meeting, to prepare an attendance sheet for general meetings
• Responsible for administrative tasks and duties for the Association
• Oversees the Grad Lounge (HNES 204) and the GESSA office
• Works with the External Officer on marketing for the Association

External Officer
• Organizes and coordinates student representation on all Faculty committees requiring MES representation
• Facilitates communication of student representatives on Faculty committees to the rest of the Association
• Talk to OSAS – finding first year rep; find reps for councils;

Communications Officer
• Designs posters for events, elections and anything else that GESSA administers
• Administers the website and e-mail
• Administers GESSA Facebook page
• Works with the Internal Officer and Social Coordinator on marketing for the Association
• Talks to OSAS – list serv emails
• Writes copy for all email and social media postings

Social Coordinator
• Responsible for coordinating social events throughout the year
• Planning teamwork building exercises and events for the Executive
• Coordinate with the Student and Alumni Resource Centre (SARC)

Advocacy Officer
• Primary point of contact for students with any academic or equity issue related to the Association or York University
• Provide resources for student to other campus and mediation bodies and equity services
• Interacts with students and faculty to work on improving student issues at FES
• Serve as the representative on the Faculty Equity Committee

Research and Travel Fund Officer
• Administrator of the Research and Travel Fund program of the Association
• Recommends allocation of RTF funds subject to approval by the Executive
• Coordinates and adjudicates RTF applications with Finance Officer
• Answers questions related to the RTF program
• Co-signer for all Association cheques

GESSA 2015 General Meeting

Please join us on November 10th in HNES 109 for the annual GM. Find the schedule below!

Date November 10th, 2015

Room: HNES 109

Time: 12:30 – 1:30pm

Proposed Agenda

Item 1: Introduction

•   Mandate

•   Members and roles (all)

Item 2: Services and Programs

•   MES RTF Funding

•   FES Student Rep Presentations

•   YU Divest Petition – can we endorse it?

•  The levy for sustainable cafe

•   MES conference

•  Associate members of YUGSA

Item 3: Constitution

•   Amendments

•   Voting

Item 4: 2014/15 Budget

•   Review & Approval

Item 5: Closing

•   Feedback

•   Questions

FES Speaker Series

In case you missed the emails, FES is hosting a fascinating speaker series entitled Navigating the Anthropocene, described here:

maxresdefaultHumankind is overwhelming and degrading the Earth’s life support systems on which all life depends. Much of the Earth’s fresh water is contaminated, in short supply and subject to competing claims. The Earth’s climate is undergoing irreversible changes that raise stark questions of environmental justice. In short, Earth has entered a human-dominated epoch that many scientists refer to as the Anthropocene. Yet, prevailing social and political norms continue to rely on thought systems that insufficiently account for current knowledge of how human society interacts with and affects Earth’s life systems.

The schedule is tentative but certainly worth marking down in your calendar!

Tentative Schedule: (all events to be held in HNES 140)

 Vandana Shiva

October 22, 12:30PM – 2:30PM  

Food Justice

November 10th or 17th

Sheila Watt Cloutier

January 26th

Economics and Environment – Peter Victor and Tim Jackson

February 23rd

Planning in the Anthropocene – Jennifer Keesmat, David Miller, Roger Keil.

March 22 or 29

CUPE Executive Committee Elections

Voting will begin at the end of the Annual General Meeting (held on April 22 from 1:30 – 4:30 at the Underground in the Student Centre) from 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm.

Voting will continue on April 23, 24, 27, 28, and 29 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at the following locations:

Keele Campus

Vari Hall Link

William Small Centre (beside Tim Hortons)

Vanier College (adjacent to south door)

Accolade East (adjacent to stairwell)


York Hall (just outside the cafeteria)

For info on the candidates, check out


News you can use: Update from your Student Association

News & Events

York and CUPE payroll

Cheques for strike pay (including discrepancies and hours worked until March 31) were available for pickup April 6 – 8 at the Atkinson building on Keele campus. Any discrepancies will be available in another cheque run processed for Friday April 10, for which you need to submit a Discrepancy form. Alternatively, en email may be sent to CUPE requesting the cheque be mailed. Cheques for 8th line members continue to be proceses.  As per the back-to-work protocol negotiated between the Union and York, members will receive full York pay for the month of March (to be released on April 15). Payroll will resume as usual for the month of April with the April 26 payment as scheduled.  The ‘lump sum payment’ retroactively reflecting the increase in wages by 1.5% from September 1, 2014, as per the new collective bargain, is presumably being paid at a later date. Further information can be found on the CUPE website.

Return to Work
Students will receive full compensation for the month of March according to the negotiated terms of the Return to Work Protocol agreed to between the Employer and the Union. The exact terms of the agreement are below and seem to imply that make-up work is not required.Any dispute regarding the interpretation of the protocol shall be referred to CUPE3903, following the Grievance Procedures outlined in Article 6 of the Collective Agreement. Alternatively, contact the Grievance Officer for assistance.

The Return to Work Protocol (Schedule B, s. 4(c)) states: “Employees will receive 100% of the compensation for the winter 2015 term. Upon return to work, supervisors shall call a meeting to discuss the workload for the remainder of the term in the context of Appendix D (p. 31) – Graduate Assistant Workload Form, making any required adjustments for the fulfillment of the duties of the assignment.” Additionally, the Workload Form states that: “The Graduate Assistant is not authorized to work more than the number of hours assigned above [in the form] and is not to be required to work more than 40 hours in any four-week period without the Graduate Assistant’s written agreement.

MES Program – Remediation & Deadlines

Winter term deadlines for MRP have been extended to Apr 10 (examinable copies due) and May 4-15 (final exams). Should a student be experiencing any pressing hardship with meeting deadlines OSAS will assist on case-by-case basis.

Summer term deadlines for MRP remain as July 31 (examinable copies due) and Aug 26 – Sep 4 (final exams). Your student reps to FES and FGS Councils will be engaged in discussion regarding potential extension of dates and tuition adjustment. Further information will be available in the near future.

 Winter term classes have resumed with remedial plans developed by each professor according to principles of fairness, timeliness, and academic integrity; also in consideration of university-wide deadlines (e.g. summer term start, spring convocation). Should a student experience any concerns with the remediation plan the following process is suggested: (1) speak with the professor directly to attempt to resolve; (2) if unresolved, speak with associate-dean, Leesa Fawcett; (3) if unresolved, speak with the dean, Noel Sturgeon. The Graduate Program Director (Justin Podur) and the GESSA Advocacy Officer (Erica Ali) are also available to consult with.

Several concerns have been raised by your student representatives to Faculty Council regarding the remedial plans and extension of deadlines. E.g. lack of student consultation, power structure dynamics, unequal class workloads, and shortened timeframes for research/study. Your student reps to FES and FGS Councils will be engaging in further discussion around more effective strategies for future implementation.

The Picket Parade – ongoing solidarity work

From Andrew Winchur: Going forward, I’d like to organize another screening (or two) with York
undergrads of the documentary (that was supposed to screen at the Global Solidarity event) on the Quebec Student Also, Alex Gelis and I would like to interview undergrads about the strike (as scheduling permits). Please contact me to get involved:



2015/16 GESSA Executive Council Elections

The following formal positions are still available and informal positions can also be created based on student interest and capacity to  work with the organization in similar or new ways! Send an email if interested! Formal position descriptions can be found in the GESSA constitution (pg. 6).
Current Members: Jasleen Hora – Chair; Romanda Simpson – Social; Evonne Donnelly – Internal; Nancy Ghumann – RTF
Vacancies:Vice-Chair/Finance; External; Advocacy. 

2015/16 Student Rep Elections to FES/York Councils

Interested in shaping faculty decisions around your education? Become a student rep on FES Councils/Committees – send an email if interested! Descriptions of councils can be found on
Current Members: See link

Faculty Council – 1 position
MES Program & Curriculum Committee – 1 position
YUGSA Council – 4 positions

ACE 2015 Executive Elections
Individuals interested in the positions noted below should email: by April 30, 2015. Positions can also be created based on student interest and capacity to  work with the organization in similar or new ways! For further details on some of the roles and responsibilities of the above titles please see our constitution.
Vacancies:  Chair; Vice-Chair; Communications; Advocacy & Outreach; Disability Services.

CUPE 2015 Executive Elections
Concerns about the recent strike clusterfeck? Vote for the 2015 Executive! You may not be a returning student but you can save your fellow colleagues some grief by enabling a competent Executive to build capacity for the next expiry of the collective agreement only two short years away. 

The campaign period runs April 6 – April 22. Voting begins at the AGM on Wednesday, April 22 and continues until April 29. Poll stations will be available at the AGM and on both campuses – Keele and Glendon (check CUPE website for location update). The full list of candidates and their bios can be found here. For more information, contact the Elections Officer at

GESSA Emergency Student Loan Program

Dear MES Students,
Due to various circumstances related to the strike some of you may currently be in need of temporary financial assistance. GESSA is trying to assess this need and may be able to implement an Emergency Student Loan Program. However, due to the limited funds available to GESSA we would like to know how many students are in need and how much is required. Please note that this does not guarantee a loan but would rather allow us to asses whether we are able to provide this service and to what extent. Please bear in mind that this is a short-term loan that we would provide to only those students in serious need of immediate financial assistance, and only to help you meet your crucial expenses that may be due immediately.
Please email GESSA by 8am on Thursday March 2 with the information indicated below (held in strict confidence). We will have a response to  your communication with the decision by 12pm on Thursday March 2.
1. Brief summary of your situation
2. Amount(s) required and purpose(s)
3. Date you require the amount(s)
4. Schedule for repayment (i.e. amount(s), date(s), and the source(s) of income)
Please send your communication to

UPDATED – Strike Updates and Information

Below is the latest information on the strike for MES students who are members of CUPE 3903. Please continue to check this post regularly as the contents will be updated as new information becomes available.


Post-strike FAQ for students, Unit 1, 2, and 3


From: J.C./D.R. [3903 Main Gate Facebook Page]

Strike Pay:

ATTENTION **You will not be able to qualify for strike pay for the duration of the strike if you have not completed the following** CUPE National takes over strike pay after 10 days of strike (beginning this Friday March 13); they will only continue to pay those members who have registered in those first 10 days. Registering means (1) completing min. one 4-hr picket shift and signing in and out (or your agreement for alt duties) AND (2) registering for payroll by signing the Strike Pay Application form (found on the picket line or strike HQ). Registering can be on the picket line or by emailing (if you require alt duties). For concerns about strike pay email Sharmeen Khan at

When CUPE National takes over strike pay, there will be a change to the required hours for eligibility. In the first 10 days members were paid for any amount of hours they completed. As of Friday March 13, members are required to work 20 hrs/wk (4-hr shifts 5 days per week or alt duties as agreed). CUPE local 3903 is advocating on behalf of members for more flexibility, however, at the time of this post publication this is the policy.


Strike Hardship Fund Call-Out

The strike hardship fund is intended to offset any hardship incurred by the strike by supplementing strike pay. This could include, but is not limited to, funds for winter clothing, to help cover the cost of transportation and/or childcare for the strike, funds for food, rent, etc. if your pay has decreased. You will need to briefly include your reasons for applying and basic financial information, employment and strike information.

Each member can get a maximum of $500. The funds are limited and will be distributed based on need.

How to Apply:
To apply, fill out the application form here – Strikehardshipfundapplication – and email it to or drop it off at Strike Head Quarters: 45 Four Winds Drive, Unit D.

Please send any inquiries to

Source of information:


From J.C.

A few updates from the picket lines:

1) If you’re finding main gate too intense for whatever reason, you’re welcome to picket at Chimneystack or Founders, which are both smaller and quieter. Just show up, sign in and out there.

2) If you’re dealing with any trauma as a result of the strike, there is someone you can talk to (a past 3903 member who is a counselor). Email equity officer Sheila Wilmot to get connected.


For more information on the strike, visit



Why are members of CUPE 3903 on strike? March, 2015

Statement from GESSA on the Strike

As the Graduate Environmental Studies Students Association (GESSA), we stand in support of the current labour actions taking place here at York and at the University of Toronto. We respect the union’s legal right to strike and their efforts to improve working conditions, ensure equity, and allow its members to earn a livable wage for their valuable work and contributions  to the University.

In Solidarity,