GSS Elections

Run to serve on your Graduate Students' Society's Executive Board!

2018 Executive Board elections

The election for the Graduate Students’ Society’s Executive Board was held on Feb 28th-March 2, 2018.

Below are the election results for the 2018-2019 GSS Executive Board. 



Election results


Cortney Baldwin: 102 votes

Arash Isapour: 108 votes (elected)


Ballots spoiled or left blank: 17

Director of Student Affairs

Elaine Laberge: 44 votes

Carla Osborne: 70 votes 

Esmaeil Rahimi: 87  votes (elected)

Ballots spoiled or left blank: 26


Lee Anderson: Director of Finance

Kelly Clark: Director of Communications

Mahsa Mahtab: Director of Services

In accordance with bylaw 4.10, acclamations were approved by an ordinary resolution at the GSS Semi-Annual General Meeting on March 27, 2018.

Notice of official candidates

The GSS Electoral Officer received and approved eight nominations from graduate students to serve on the Executive Board. 

In accordance with Bylaw 4.10, nominees who run unopposed are acclaimed. Acclamations are approved by ordinary resolution at the Semi-Annual General Meeting.

Candidate names and information are presented below, by position. Within each position, candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Candidates for Chair

Cortney Baldwin

About Me

My academic background includes a BA in Canadian Studies and a BA in Development Studies. My current Master’s program in the Faculty of Education centres on Leadership, Adult Education and Community Engagement. My Master’s research in the Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies (EPLS) department is focused on the efficacy and development of programs where space is created to speak of and learn about topics related to inclusivity, equity and Reconciliation. My professional career includes extensive training in development and facilitation of training programs, de-escalation techniques and handling difficult interpersonal situations. My volunteer work centres around advocating for, providing care when needed and building programs for marginalized groups in society.


My qualifications for the position of Chair are varied and multifaceted. My skills acquired both inside and outside the academic community provided transferable knowledge which I have used to strengthen my collaborative skills. Specifically, through my work with the Association of Graduate Education Students and the Grad Student Council, I have taken advantage of the opportunities to engage on campus, including:

·       Seminar Facilitator with the Association of Graduate Education Students

·       Faculty of Education Podcast co-host

·       EPLS Equity Committee member

·       AGES: CONNECTIONS 2018 Conference co-organizer

·       Graduate Representative on the Faculty of Education Council

·       EPLS Grad Student Council Representative

My experience in academia, social and political activism, and twenty years in customer service have taught me that effective empathetic listening skills, a willingness to collaborate, emotional intelligence and literacy, the tenacity to engage with challenging situations, and understanding the value of connections between communities are the basis for success, regardless of title or position.

Overall, the culmination of my life experience has provided me with two major practices that I believe would translate to the position of Chair.

1.     I have worked with people from varied backgrounds, skillsets and perspectives my entire life in various settings. In doing so, I have learned the value of working with people’s strengths to collaborate in a way that in beneficial not only for the task at hand, but for those involved in the process. Every experience is an opportunity to learn and I consciously attempt to support myself and others as we learn our way through new experience and roles.

2.     My connection and dedication to education and lifelong learning provides a tenacious resolve which I channel to engage with, listen to and advocate for graduate students. My ability to network and connect means I bring a network of allies and mentors to assist me as I work to ensure a successful term as Chair of the GSC.


My plan as Chair of the GSC for the 2018 year is to continue the work the former Chair, Executive Team and Representatives have started in relation to policy, streamlining of services and graduate student advocacy. In addition, I will endeavor to use my position to attempt to support graduate student initiatives, with a particular focus on creating guaranteed graduate student funding at UVic.

This candidate acknowledges the University of Victoria is on unceded traditional Lekwungen & W̱SÁNEĆ Territories

Arash Isapour

– Why isn’t there an actual supportive community for us in times of crisis?

– How can I find or form a community to share some fun, meet new friends, and look for new adventures?

– Where can I find experienced students who will share their knowledge and help me succeed?

As a Grad student trying to figure out how things work on campus, I believe it is crucial to have a support system we can fully rely on. Personally, as an international student coming to UVic, I needed to be guided when things became complicated in terms of Financial and Educational matters, Housing disputes, and the stress resulting from these struggles. I believe the GSS must be more functional and communicative with regards to providing information and support for all the graduate students; We are all paying members of the society (we pay around $200 every year in membership fees).  Therefore, the staff and the Executive Board of the GSS should see this as their DUTY to help and support all grad students, rather making us feel like they’re doing us any favors. 

As the Chair of the GSS, I will put all my efforts and skill into forming and leading a group of passionate students that will not only provide backup for the members of this society, but will also create an inclusive community where grad students could make new friends and participate in group activities. The GSS should be our Home where we always have an open door to come in and demand our rights, share our concerns and point of view. Vote for me and help me bring the real change to our community. 

Arash Isapour

PhD Student of Theatre History

Candidates for Director of Student Affairs

Elaine Laberge

Candidate Statement: Elaine Laberge, Phd student in sociology, MA, BA

Position: Director of Student Affairs

Elaine Laberge is a steadfast social activist and visionary. Her educational leadership challenges current academic perspectives, policies, and cultural practices. Her research and leadership philosophy embodies transformative university experiences. She is active in working towards more campus diversity, equity, and inclusion (EDI).

In 2017, Elaine received her MA in sociology from the University of Alberta. Her efforts and insights into how poverty (in its multiple forms), shapes university students’ experiences are a key part in pushing EDI policies forward at the UofA. Elaine’s educational leadership style centres on collaboration and inter-connectedness. She makes friends and allies wherever she goes. It is through these meaningful connections where positive political and social change occurs.

Since beginning her doctoral studies in sociology at UVic, Elaine has been connecting with university leaders to contribute to shaping a socially just and inclusive university landscape. As the director of student affairs, Elaine’s leadership would focus on efforts to ensure all graduate students have an environment where they can realize their dreams without erasing their identities. As director of student affairs, Elaine would be actively involved in working collaboratively with the GSS Executive, Student Affairs Committee, and university administration to shape much-needed openings for hearing voices and perspectives still rarely considered in the dominant discourse in universities.

Elaine has a background in project management, communications, finance, and facilitation. As such, UVic graduate students will get a director of student affairs who is comfortable engaging with stakeholders at all levels in university. Elaine’s education includes business, theatre, education, and sociology. This means, that as the director of student affairs, she has an interdisciplinary—and creative—focus. Elaine will bring a relational and justice-focused leadership philosophy in collaborating for transformative educational experiences for current—and, future graduate students. As a student from generational poverty, Elaine brings a sensitivity to education conversations, policies, and activities, which must include international and domestic students, Indigenous and non-Indigenous students—graduate students from every walk of life.

Graduate student focus areas: (1) Canadian universities must become engaged in widening access to education for marginalized students; (2) The move towards a business model is directly impacting learning outcomes and experiences; (3) International students are seen uniformly; (4) In some faculties, UVic (situated in one of the most expensive cities in Canada) does not provide adequate funding; (5) The past tenure-track trajectory is no longer an option for many students; (6) Students bring diverse lived experiences and knowledge that must be part of larger strategic discussions and plans; (7) Graduate students as a whole can benefit from active engagement with and support from GSS and the graduate community; and (8) Issues that graduate students will bring forward to the 2017-2018 GSS student affairs’ team.

Vote for Elaine Laberge to continue the GSS’ educational advocacy and get our voices and lived experiences heard. In 2017-2018, “Let’s Talk!”

Carla Osborne

Candidate Statement – Carla Osborne

For Position of Director of Student Affairs

I am a PhD student in History, completing the second year of my program, and this is also my second year serving as the History representative to GSS and member of the Student Affairs Committee. A key part of my interest in serving on the committee as a representative and now in the position of its director is twofold. I see it as one of the most effective ways I can both give back to the graduate student community that has been and is such a great support for me, and pay it forward so that future grad students have improved access to the resources they need when they need them. My experience on the committee to date has allowed me to build a clear picture of the elements of the Director’s portfolio and the need to maintain continuity to support the completion and success of the Student Affairs initiatives, which by nature take time to set up and establish.

This academic year has been an exceptionally challenging one that reiterates the importance of the committee’s ongoing work towards setting up an Office for Graduate Student Advocacy. Having needed advocacy assistance myself, this a project close to my heart, as is the ongoing work on addressing the legal status of research assistants. Fellow grad students in History and colleagues on GSS council have also led me to a growing focus on student mental health as they describe the impacts of the growing pressure to finish masters programs within two years on them as they strive for work-life balance. I am also a firm advocate of the GSS’s ongoing efforts to raise its profile on campus, to continue the excellent community building already under way, and to improve connections with grad students in cohort-based and other types of programs.

I hope you’ll consider electing me to the Director of Student Affairs position for the upcoming academic year, and look forward to continuing to contribute to the UVic grad student community.

Esmaeil Rahimi

GSS candidate statement

Greetings GSS members, ‎

My name is Esmaeil Rahimi, and I am a 2nd-year PhD student in the Faculty of Engineering.‎

I am running for the position of Director of Student Affairs of the GSS. This position is all about student needs and I ‎want to play an active role in the ongoing improvement of our community and its many facets.‎

I see the position of Director of Student Affairs as an excellent way to be a part of a team that is ‎involved not only in the current grad students’ lives, but also the broader picture of providing a ‎better place for future graduate students.‎

To me, the ultimate goal of any university should be to produce qualified graduates.‎

Having been in university for a while now, I am aware of how the GSS works, and feel that I can ‎bring a valuable and auspicious perspective to the position. This perspective would focus on ‎education quality and better student services, while I do my best to make this a reality at UVic. ‎

I believe in unity on campus and giving everyone a fair go and say, regardless of gender, nationality, ‎religion or belief. I wish to be the voice of my fellow graduate peers. I would like to create more ‎interactions between graduate students and the university regarding social and financial matters.. I believe I have the necessary vision and courage to stand up ‎for the rights of students. I am passionate about making sure that our campus provides students with the same ‎opportunities as all other campuses in Canada and I want to ensure that every graduate student’s time on ‎campus is as enjoyable and productive as possible. We are busy, we have important jobs to do and we are here ‎because we are doing great. So we deserve to be treated well.‎

Please vote Esmaeil for the position of Director of Student Affairs and I will fight to make life better for ‎us as graduate students.

It’s all about moving forward and creating change!‎

Thank you for your consideration! ‎

In solidarity,‎

Esmaeil Rahimi ‎

Candidates for Director Finance

Lee Anderson

Lee Anderson


            I am a third-year PhD student (almost candidate) in Greek and Roman Studies, focusing on Bronze Age Greek archaeology. To be honest, I would have never pictured myself running for a position of an organization like our Graduate Students Society. It wasn’t until I was a master’s student at the University of Tennessee that I really began to come out of my shell and take an interest in the affairs of my peers. Once I did, though, I found myself connecting with the other graduate students in my former department (Anthropology) surprisingly quickly, to the point that during my last year at the University of Tennessee I served as the treasurer for our departmental graduate student association.

For the past two years I have served on the GSS’s Finance Committee. Being a member of the Graduate Representative Council, I have had a glance at the inner workings of the university, which I had previously taken for granted. Certainly as a member of the Finance Committee, I have really seen how all of the moving parts come together to propel us forward as a society. I believe that as an international student (originating from Memphis, Tennessee) I am familiar with how we might distinguish ourselves on an international level. Since this is my sixth year in total as a graduate student, I am also very familiar with the range of issues that graduate students face, from the moments of feeling completely isolated with no one to turn to, to those moments of victory when you say “Eureka!”

My vision for the Graduate Students Society is simple: to maintain the status quo and continue to provide resources to our graduate students. Recent board and council members have worked hard to advocate for graduate students’ needs, both on an academic level and at the personal level. I have been fortunate enough to work with them on some groundbreaking initiatives and to witness the unusual level of camaraderie within our organization. As the new Director of Finance, it will be my goal to ensure that we as a society are meeting our members’ needs and that we are continuing to support graduate students as we all make our mark on the world. Thank you for your support!

Candidates for Director of Communications

Kelly Clark

Hello GSS!

My name is Kelly Clark and I’m running for Director of Communications with our GSS. I’m a MA student in the Public History Stream with a strong background in communications work, event planning, writing, and film-making (I even do a little history from time to time). In those rare moments I’m not on campus, I tend forget that sleep is a necessity and fill my hours with role-playing games, Netflix, and the gym. My communications experience includes working as a communications officer for the UVSS for the past three years, being a social media specialist for a luxury hotel for three years, and being the managing editor of a theatre review magazine. I also write good.

My goal with this position is to work closely with the other directors to increase awareness of services, events, and important information that impacts each of us. Grad school can be a really difficult time, and I believe that proper communication can be a lifeline during those moments of peak stress. I would also like to work with other on campus organizations to increase access to mental health resources for grad students; according to recent studies we have a 34% rate of moderate to severe depression. While we may not be able to fix those numbers, we are able to make sure those of us who are going through hard times know what resources are available.

If elected, I’ll work hard to improve our communications platform and connect grad students. I want to find new and exciting ways for us to network and build a community with ties that outlive graduation.

Thanks for taking time out of your incredibly busy schedule to read this. I hope I have your support in the election, but I’ll be honest with you: so long as whoever gets elected to this role is passionate, we all win. Vote with equal parts heart and mind for the person you think will do the best job. Unless I’m running unopposed, in which case you should vote for me—I hear that other guy is a jerk.

Candidates for Director of Services

Mahsa Mahtab

Hello Everyone,

My name is Mahsa and I’m running for the 2018 GSS Executive Board, and I would love to have the honour of being elected as the Director of Services.  ‎

I am a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Electrical Engineering, and I have been active in social activities at UVic. I have been a member of the international student association club for one year and have been involved in many events organization. I have several certificates in tourism, and I was an official tour guide for two years with various experiences in planning indoor/outdoor activities. Please check out my Facebook public page “Let’s Explore Vancouver Island” to see the exciting trips that I organize, and do not hesitate to join us for the next event.

As a grad student, I am aware of your busy life that sometimes makes you skip GSS activities. I plan to engage you more with the GSS activities through our networking system (GSS Facebook page, our newsletter, and the email list) to make sure that you are informed of all events. I welcome your ideas and suggestions to organize events that you won’t miss. I also would like to reach you through your department grad representative to meet my fellow students and discuss how we can improve our research work-life balance.

As an international student, I have faced many difficulties that could have been prevented‎ or solved much easier if I had more cognizance and support in the first couple of semesters. I DO have plans to support international students with more information and knowledge of how they can become part of community as early as possible without feeling of left behind alone.    

If elected, I will continue to dedicate my effort into improving your time at the university, because the GSS is about every single one of us.


Nominations are now closed. 


Campaigning period is February 21 – March 2, 2018

Campaign posters

Once a candidate nomination has been approved by the electoral officer, the GSS will provide 50 copies of a letter size poster to each candidate. Bring the poster to the GSS office during office hours for copying.

Campaign statements

Candidates submit a candidate statement (up to 500 words) and photo to the electoral officer by email when submitting their nomination. Candidate statements are posted on the GSS website and included on the webvote system.


Voting will be conducted online at Polls open 9:00 am on February 28, and close at 4:30 pm March 2, 2018.

Rules and information

The GSS electoral officer is Adar Anisman,

Elections are governed by the GSS Bylaws.