GSA Vice President External named the new Chair of ab-GPAC, Alberta graduate students lobby group

Calgary, Alberta – Marcela Lopes, UCalgary GSA’s VP External is elected as the new Chair of Alberta Graduate Provincial Advocacy Council (ab-GPAC) for the next academic year of 2019-2020. In her previous term, she was the Vice Chair of ab-GPAC which gave her the expertise and insights to take on her new role as Chair.

Marcela is excited about taking on the position. She shares that, “The first thing I would like to accomplish this year is to develop relationship with the Premier, the Ministry of Advanced Education, the Ministry of Education, and strengthen the relationships with our stakeholders across the province.” Commenting on the April 2019 provincial election, she believes, “With the newly-elected representatives across the province, this will be the key year to develop these relationships to continue the good job ab-GPAC has been doing for the past few years.”

In the past academic year, a big policy win of ab-GPAC was to have the tuition fees for domestic students and international students regulated through Bill 19 passed by the Alberta government in October 2018. Another policy ab-GPAC is advocating on is to retain graduate students in Alberta through the provincial professional development fund for graduate students. ab-GPAC is also in the process of conducting research and consultations to remove barriers for Indigenous graduate students across the province.

As the Chair of ab-GPAC, Marcela will also be in charge of the internal organizational operations including the development of a new three-year strategic plan for 2020-2023, the formation and structure of committees, and all advocacy activities. Within this term, she plans to start an ab-GPAC advocacy week, establish solid ad-hoc committees, and complete the research on Indigenous graduate students’ support.

This year, ab-GPAC welcomes Concordia University as a new member and will have a total of four (4) GSA as members, the University of Alberta, University of Calgary, Athabasca University, and Concordia University, representing over 16,000 graduate students in Alberta.

As a member of ab-GPAC, the UCalgary’s GSA sends three (3) Directors to ab-GPAC including the President, VP External, and the Chair of the External Advocacy Committee. The External Advocacy Committee provides input and feedback to the GSA’s municipal, provincial and federal advocacy efforts from its committee members in order to represent the UCalgary graduate students effectively. The UCalgary’s GSA is currently looking for new members for the External Advocacy Committee, please see here for more information. Another exciting news for the UCalgary’s GSA is that a staff will be hired to exclusively support the policy, research, and advocacy efforts of the UCalgary’s GSA and the VP External from now on.

About ab-GPAC:

The Alberta Graduate Provincial Advocacy Council (ab-GPAC) is a student-led, non-partisan organization that advocates to the provincial government on behalf of over 16,000 graduate students that attend one of three comprehensive academic research-intensive universities in Alberta. ab-GPAC represents the Graduate Students’ Associations from Athabasca University (AU), the University of Alberta (UAlberta), the University of Calgary (UCalgary) and Concordia University. We advocate for quality post-secondary graduate education and strive to improve the experience of graduate students in the province.

Learn more about ab-GPAC on their website here.

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