Graduate students are facing numerous challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic – from adjusting to online class and teaching delivery, to delayed research timelines, to reduced accessibility to campus resources and facilities and increased financial uncertainty. The GSA has been advocating policymakers and UCalgary Administrators to ensure students are adequately supported during this time. Thank you for everyone who has taken the time to share their COVID-19 stories. Here are some of the ways students are being impacted by COVID-19 in their own words:
My ability to perform research has been severely hindered. Graduate students have been working at a fraction of our capacity. This has slowed my academic progress and will absolutely impact my ability to complete my degree requirements and finish my program on time.
Lost summer and gig employment opportunities has impacted my ability to make additional income. In addition, not being eligible for the CERB and the CESB has made it difficult for me to manage my expenses.
Switching to taking classes online, and working as a TA online has made it difficult to have a healthy work life balance.
Not being eligible for the benefit programs, makes me feel that as an international student, I am always forgotten, and always last.
Having access to these benefit programs could help relieve the financial burden placed on graduate students who have had to use their own finances to work from home.
My program shifted to online, and as a result I didn’t move to Alberta. But I had already given my landlord and jobs notice, so that meant I had no place to live or a job. I have had to find a temporary solution on a limited income until things settle down. If I had CESB access, I would not need to borrow money from others and could pay my own bills and save to pay off my student loans.
The shutdown of all library services has made it impossible to access books and other print material that have not been digitized or been made available online. The fact that it’s been over two months since the shutdown and there’s still no plan for enabling limited access to physical material (whether through no-touch pickup or scan-on-request) is shocking. The University of Calgary needs to fix this.
Your stories and testimonials have informed our advocacy efforts. Below are the actions we are taking to ensure your feedback are being heard at different levels of government and at the University:
- Share graduate student concerns to Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) to amplify voice to our federally elected officials and policymakers in charge of many of the COVID-19 support programs
- Share COVID-19 quotes via our social media platform to advocate and raise awareness directly on our own channels
- Follow up with the UCalgary’s administration and Faculty of Graduate Studies on these concerns to inform the Fall 2020 planning process and ask for actions
- Continue to raise awareness of the GSA bursaries and other beneficial services that you can access right now
- Continue to offer GSA services and programs to respond to this new online and remote work reality.
We are also launching a new survey to gather your feedback and inform our advocacy as UCalgary prepares for the Fall 2020 term. See details below:
Let’s Talk Fall 2020, #UCalgaryGradStudents!
The University of Calgary is currently forming plans for Fall 2020 term. As the GSA is advocating for graduate students during this crucial period, we need your input to inform our advocacy efforts. Your feedback on UCalgary’s Fall 2020 blended delivery method will directly inform the University on the necessary support and services to ensure your academic success.
Please complete the GSA’s Fall 2020 survey and tell us about your experience during the last semester and your concerns for the Fall 2020 term. Your personal contact information will be kept confidential.
Fill out the survey here
As your graduate student representatives, the GSA Board of Directors and the Research and Advocacy Analyst worked on many advocacy priorities to the best interest of UCalgary graduate students. Please visit the GSA Advocacy page for the most updated information on our advocacy work: gsa.ucalgary.ca/advocacy