WHAT IS THE SOCIETY OF GRADUATE STUDENTS (SOGS)?
The Society of Graduate Students (SOGS) is the graduate student-run organization representing more than 6000 Western graduate students across 60 graduate departments. SOGS provides various services and programs to its members. These can be broadly categorized into 1) Services and Benefits (e.g. Food Bank and Graduate Peer Support); 2) Financial Support (e.g. bursaries and travel subsidies); 3) Academic and Professional Development (e.g. Academic Peer Advising and Research Forums); 4) Advocacy (e.g. support for marginalized groups); and 5) Social and Wellness Programming (e.g. Orientation and monthly events). For more information, visit www.sogs.ca.
WHAT IS THE STUDENT "CHOICE" INITIATIVE?
On January 17, 2019, the Ontario government announced that certain student ancillary fees would become “non-essential”. This is a change in the tuition framework as all fees were previously mandatory.
How does this impact SOGS?
Unfortunately, SOGS membership dues are now considered “non-essential” fees despite the fact that SOGS provides many services, benefits, financial support, academic and professional development, advocacy support and channels, as well as social and wellness programming to its members. Given the uncertain future of Ontario student unions, SOGS is unlikely to offer the same level of support to its members.
How does this impact YOU?
The SOGS membership due will be $80.19 in September, 2019. Membership dues fund some of the following services: the Grad Club; Foodbank for Non-TAs; Childcare, Travel, and Professional Placement Subsidies; and Orientation and Graduate Wellness Week. If SOGS is unable to maintain its current level of services as students choose to opt-out of SOGS membership dues, members would face the loss of these critical services. Additionally, an important line of communication between SOGS representatives and the administrative bodies on- and off-campus that makes decisions about graduate education and student quality of life would deteriorate. Without these channels, graduate students will no longer have a voice on Western University campus.
What is SOGS doing about the Student Choice Initiative?
Since March 2019, SOGS has hosted a Walk-out (which was publicized by local media outlets), a Membership Appreciation Event (attended by more than 200 graduate students), created department-specific Councillor template letters outlining how many SOGS services graduate students accessed over the last three years (including $ amount), launched a #StickwithSOGS social media campaign (which includes this website and our campaign video), and formed a "Stick with SOGS" ad-hoc committee. On Friday, September 13, 2019 (12-1PM), SOGS will host another Solidarity Event (stay tuned for more details). Additionally, the SOGS team will continue to work with Western Administration, including the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS) and Student Experience, to preserve SOGS services. Saving SOGS will not be possible, however, without you.
How can YOU help?
If SOGS has improved your graduate student experience, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We are currently looking for student testimonials and more volunteers to join our "Stick with SOGS" ad-hoc committee. In the coming year, #StickwithSOGS and participate in our social media campaign. In the meantime, stay #SOGSstrong!
ARE YOU A MEMBER?