Having worked at the front desk of the SGPS office since this past February, there’s a question I’ve heard surprisingly often. Is this the SGS office? Though the SGPS and the SGS have very similar names and both cater to graduate students at Queen’s University, we are in fact quite different offices! Let me just take a moment to explain what they both have to offer!
The Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) is comprised of an elected executive team representing and advocating for you as graduate students, and the staff members (me included!) who work at the SGPS in the basement of the JDUC in room 21, answering phone calls and assisting you when you drop by. The SGPS executive meets once a month with department representatives for their council meeting where they discuss the new developments graduate students should be aware of. You can take a look at this link for minutes from previous meetings to see what kind of things are brought up or to find out when the next council meeting will be held. All graduate and professional students are able to attend these meetings and it’s a great way to get involved and learn about policies that may affect you (keeping in mind that only elected members of the council can vote).
Your SGPS executive team has been responsible for some of the exciting orientation events that have been going on this past September, including the boat cruise, weekly Run and Socials, a trip to Wonderland, and a visit to the corn maze on Wolfe Island. If you missed out on any of these, there’ll be more exciting ones coming up in the future! Make sure to follow the SGPS facebook page for event updates and to find out other ways you can get involved (events are also listed on the SGPS calendar).
In addition to fun events, the SGPS provides graduate students with the Health and Dental plan (make sure to drop by the SGPS office to get your new insurance card for the 2017/2018 year), with bursaries to assist with emergency expenses, dental costs, events and UHIP charges, and a group of student advisors who can assist you with difficult issues like dealing with your supervisor, finding funding solutions and financial assistance, dealing with discrimination and harassment, and filing academic appeals.
The School of Graduate Studies (SGS), on the other hand, is more like a faculty, similar to the Faculty of Arts & Science for undergraduate students that has departments within it (i.e. Biology). The SGS encompasses all 125 graduate programs, in addition to other interdisciplinary and cross-faculty programs, and is overseen by Dr. Brenda Brouwer, the Vice Provost and Dean, who represents the interests of graduate students, programs, faculty deans and graduate coordinators. Located across the road from the SGPS, on the 4th floor of Gordon Hall, the office is where you would go to get a new sticker on your student card, asking general questions about your program, or meeting with a graduate student counselor.
The SGS also organizes a number of extraordinarily useful programs for graduate students, including their Dissertation Boot Camp, the Dissertation on the Lake (the getaway version that I wish I had signed up for this past summer), and the many Expanding Horizons workshops. Some of workshops being held this October include Abstract to Audience, Building Successful Academic Relationships Across Cultures, and Research Collaboration with Indigenous Communities. The SGS also organizes this Gradifying blog, and the weekly Grad Chats where graduate students are given 30 minutes each week to talk about their research on the radio (you should totally sign up! I know you’re considering it).
The SGS has an enormous amount of resources on their website, so make sure to take a look through when you have some time, and most importantly, read your emails! Your SGPS executive team and the SGS both send very informative emails listing all the upcoming events and opportunities you should be aware of. Take a minute to read them through so you know what’s going on! And feel free to come by and visit both of our offices if you have any questions. Helping graduate students is what we’re here for!