Below are the bios of all of the candidates standing for the GSS Executive elections.

Director of External Relations:

Matthew McDonald

My name is Matt McDonald, and I’m running for re-election to the position of GSS Director of External Relations. I’m a fourth year PhD student in the Economics department, and I have put the skills I’ve learned in my program to work in researching, planning and advocating for university and government action on student affordability, as well as other important issues.

I did not get involved in student politics just for a CV line item. Like thousands of others at SFU, the affordability problems of Metro Vancouver have made my life and studies more difficult, and I resolved to do whatever I could to alleviate the pressure on graduate students. In the past year as Director, that has meant calls with government ministry staff, discussions with MLAs, and intense negotiations with the SFU administration. Our talks with SFU have directly led to the development of an innovative, large-scale Student Affordability Project, aimed at addressing not just tuition but housing, food, textbooks and financial predictability.

I’ve also devoted substantial time to building up relationships between the GSS and SFSS, as well as other student groups like SFPIRG. Working together has made tackling issues like the new international student health fees easier and improved our communications to students.

Thank you for considering me for this important position. If re-elected, I promise to be a steady hand at the wheel, to expand my advocacy efforts and continue to call attention to graduate student needs with the relationships and connections I’ve made throughout SFU.

Director of Internal Relations:

Foroozan Daneshzand

My name is Foroozan Danesh. I am a Ph.D student from the School of Interactive Arts and Technology.

During my master studies, at Tehran University, I was an active member of various student organizations and societies like the film society, student sport society and university’s newspaper group. These opportunities provided me with valuable leadership and communication skills, which are crucial in conducting the role of director in internal relations.

After my graduation, I have worked in industry for three years in the field of architecture and interior design and apart from professional skills which I gained there, I developed my teamwork and problem solving skills which will definitely help me in this position. Here at SFU, I have been involved in TSSU and GSS by attending various meetings and talking to directors and active members, through which I became aware of the GSS activities and resolutions and got interested in the exciting position of director of internal relations.

If I am elected, I will do my best to use all my ability and potential to make a great contribution to the graduate student society.

Director of Graduate Services:

Mona Mehdizadeh

This is Mona Mehdizadeh and I am excited to run for the position of Director of Graduate Services (DGS) for the spring semester.

I am a 2nd year PhD student at the School of Computing Science. During the past two years, I have been an active member of Computing Science Graduate Student Association (CSGSA) and as the councillor for Computing Science caucus. I’m aware and well versed with the role the GSS council plays in the governance of the GSS as the student body representing all graduate students at SFU. Furthermore, I did a couple of orientations at the beginning of this semester, which provided me with the tools to introduce GSS and its structure to the new students. It also helped me to get a broader understanding of various services GSS offers to graduate students.

I have also been an active member of International Graduate Students (IGS) Working Group, Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) steward and one of the core-organizers in the recent Research is Work campaign that successfully unionized research assistants at SFU. Due to the limited term of this position, I would put my core focus on current DGS projects such as Menstrual Product Initiative, Mental Wellness kit and GSS space working group. Furthermore, during my experience with IGS and research is work campaign, I talked to my fellow graduate students and listened to their stories, issues and concerns including but not limited to lack of awareness about Health Benefit Plan, insufficient mental health services, etc. I believe that DGS position would give me a unique opportunity to address such concerns and I feel confident to serve as DGS based on my experiences volunteering with CSGSA, IGS and Research is Work.

Finally, I would like to state the fact that I am expected to be enrolled as a graduate student for Spring 2020 and I would be available to attend meetings at Burnaby campus.