Council Corner

Recap of the Oct 8th GSS Meeting

Chris Ho/The Peak

By: Paige Riding, News Writer

Increase in BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) fees for international students 

Teaching Support Staff Union representative Alicia Massie discussed concerns regarding changes to the MSP Premium. While it is being eliminated for residents of BC as of January 1, this cost is being offset by an increase in fees for international students. 

International students currently pay $37.50 per month, though this will increase to $75 per month as well as an additional $75 for each dependent. Multiple council members expressed confusion about SFU’s messaging regarding the change, particularly regarding when it would be occuring. 

A report on CTV stated that the change came in effect for post-secondary students as of September 1. According to Massie, there is mixed messaging from SFU regarding this, as some administrators have claimed to be unaware, and others have said that SFU will not be paying the increased fee. Currently, teaching assistants and other employees who are members of the TSSU, have the fee paid by SFU due to a clause in their collective agreement.

Though council did not pass a motion regarding this issue, Massie requested council members to visit the TSSU website for updates

The Peak has reached out to SFU and TSSU for additional comments.

GSS expresses support for trans community 

The GSS issued two statements regarding recent transphobic events on campus — one addressing the vandalism of Out on Campus’s #wejustneedtopee posters, and another on the upcoming event featuring controversial speaker Meghan Murphy, who has been accused of discriminatory in the past.   

The statement addressing the vandalism reads: “This is a deeply disturbing and worrisome occurrence that we at the GSS condemn in the strongest possible terms. We would like to express our solidarity and support for the LGBTQ+ community and endorsement of the poster campaign.

Bathrooms should be safe for everyone, including trans, non-binary and queer students, teachers, and staff.” 

The statement addressing the transphobic event on November 2, the statement says: “The Graduate Student Society (GSS) at SFU is deeply disappointed that this university, an institution that prides itself on its inclusive and supportive nature, is allowing the event to proceed, given it hosts known transphobic speakers who mask themselves under the veil of free speech and feminism to justify discrimination.” It went on to express solidarity with SFU’s trans communities.

Concerns over 2020-2021 budget transparency shared with SFU

Council passed a motion to write a letter to SFU expressing “disappointment at the lack of information provided to the graduate student body [ . . . ] regarding the proposed 2020–2021 SFU budget.” The motion went on to call for SFU to implement a “long-term SFU Student Affordability Plan to be enacted as part of the annual SFU budget development process.”

Vice-President External Matt McDonald explained that, over the summer, SFU discussed the budget with the Simon Fraser Student Society and the GSS. He described the budget as “opaque to students and the societies.” 

The letter was not available on the GSS website at the time of print, but will be available shortly. 

Police response to toy gun incident in library

The graduate council meeting occured almost simultaneously with a police incident in the library, and a lengthy discussion ensued — discussed in a separate Peak article.