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PGSS Legislative Council discusses long-term plans

The Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) Legislative Council reconvened on Jan. 15 to propose a graduate student zone in the planned Fiat Lux Building Project. Further discussion involved the creation of a University Affairs Officer and health insurance coverage for PGSS students.

PGSS Secretary-General Dakota Rogers addressed a recent demand from members to actively use the Library Improvement Fund by prioritizing large-scale, long-term projects. A $3.00 Library Improvement Fund fee was dismissed in a PGSS referendum last year because there was no use for the funds. 

Rogers argued that the fund is wasting its potential to support bigger projects. 

“Currently, this fund has $541,000 [in] it,” Rogers said. “We will never spend that [amount] if we continue at [our current spending] rate. [This is why] we’re proposing to [create] a graduate student zone in this new library.” 

With the Fiat Lux project expected to begin this year, McGill will renovate the McLennan-Redpath library complex to accommodate the university’s growing student population. 

Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Fabrice Labeau briefly outlined the university administration’s vision for the project.

“The library will basically store all low circulation material in a remote location,” Labeau explained. “The high circulation material will remain downtown in the core facility. There’s going to be a new cloud-based system that will have an interface to make a request for a book off-campus.”

Rogers also presented the idea for a graduate student zone, which would entail reserved communal and exclusive study spaces.

“What currently exists in the libraries [are] two rooms specifically intended for graduate students, but they’re only desks for studying and you have to rent them,” Rogers said. “We obviously don’t want to see those disappear, [but] we also want to see an increase in net space that will be used for this kind of communal space.” 

Finally, discussion centered on updates from the Health and Dental Plan review committee, whose proposed changes include increasing insurance coverage in vaccination and health practitioners. Under the proposed plan, mental health coverage would increase drastically as the most expensive change to the current plan.

“The current coverage is $30 per visit up to a maximum of $500. The average coverage is 25 per cent coverage up to $500,” Rogers said. “We are proposing increasing coverage to 50 per cent, up to a maximum of $1,000.” 

Lastly, Academic Affairs Officer Gongora-Bernoske discussed whether the PGSS should seek full membership in the Quebec Student Union (QSU). Currently, the PGSS merely acts as an observer.

“Our point is that a lot of the benefits we get from just being observers of the QSU are the same as being a full member,” Gongora-Bernoske said.  “The benefit of being a member [would be to] get a vote [in the union].”

The response by council members was neutral, demonstrated in a mock-referendum where most members preferred to abstain.

Soundbite: “[Our] government allocation […] has been very low, but it just increased in the last two years, so there’s a sudden availability of money that allows us to address  […] maintenance of all these older buildings that definitely need some love.” – Fabrice Labeau, on construction around campus

Flashback: PGSS members raised some concerns over construction around campus, including disruptions in the classroom and the superficial maintenance of buildings, such as grimy windows and dirty carpets.

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