Below are the bios of all of the candidates standing for the GSS Executive elections.
Director of External Relations:
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.
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:
This is Mona Mehdizadeh, a 2nd-year PhD candidate of Computing Science and the current Director of Graduate Services at GSS (appointed by the council as of January 2020) and I am applying for re-election.
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. 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.
As the current director of Graduate Services in the past 2 months, I got a unique chance to be familiar and trained for this position resulting in me having developed an even deeper understanding of how this position works and the issues and responsibilities associated with it.
My main focus so far has been continuing the projects at hand such as Health Benefit Plan, Translink, etc. However, I am aware of a lot concerns of my fellow graduate students, including but not limited to lack of awareness about Health Benefit Plan, insufficient mental health services, etc. and I feel confident that being elected for the next year would provide me the chance to address those issues in a broader level.