GASPS is the association of graduate students in the Department of Political Science. Its role is to represent graduate students at the departmental level and at the faculty level through the Graduate Student’s Union (GSU). GASPS’ main objective is to enhance the democratic participation of graduate students in the affairs and life of the department in order to create the best possible working environment for all. Its executive is democratically elected once a year and is responsible to the students in the department. Its funding is provided by the GSU, based on the number of students in the department.
Becoming involved in GASPS is important. It helps to ensure we, as students, have a voice in departmental affairs and a vehicle through which we can express our concerns and opinions regarding departmental policies and procedures. GASPS endeavours to represent graduate students’ concerns and provide information on such decisions as student funding, evaluation procedures, hiring of teaching and research assistants, course offerings, curriculum changes, hiring of new faculty members processes, etc. As such, attending GASPS meetings is essential to learn about such issues and to pass on any concerns or problems you may be experiencing as graduate students to the executive committee.
GASPS has representatives in most departmental committees (Priorities and Planning, Graduate Affairs, Area Group Meetings) and at the Graduate Students’ Union General Council. It also collaborates and consults with departmental authorities on a regular basis in order to maintain improve students’ working environment and working conditions. Among recent improvements is the opening of a study room where lockers, desks and network computers are available for the use of graduate students who do not have proper office space. A laser printer is also available for the exclusive use of graduate students.
In addition to acting as a representative association, GASPS tries to foster intellectual exchanges and social life among graduate students. Social events such as the orientation week information sessions and picnic, GASPS parties, area group dinners and other social gatherings provide some opportunities for students to socialize and get to know each others in a relaxed setting. GASPS also organizes an annual seminar series through which graduate students have the opportunity to present their research, thesis proposals or communications to a friendly, but critical, crowd. The seminars have been highly popular among students hoping for some feedback or looking for some practice at presenting their work in public.
For more information on GASPS, visit the association’s website at: http://gasps.chass.utoronto.ca/.