Sophie McGibbon-Gardner, Academics & Funding Commissioner, Divisions 3 & 4 candidate. SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

Sophie McGibbon-Gardner is a PhD student in physics seeking re-election as the Academics & Funding Commissioner for Divisions 3 and 4.

Her main goals if elected are to develop tools for lobbying, increase student engagement, and identify systemic issues facing UTGSU members.

“I think that the level of engagement of the [UTGSU] for many reasons is pretty low. There’s not a lot of listening to each other on both sides,” said McGibbon-Gardner. “We can only continue to ask graduate students to come and engage with us so much. We have to switch it up. You have to start going to them.”

McGibbon-Gardner added that she wants to identify systemic issues and fix them before they happen. “If there are funding issues or toxic supervisory relationships that are occurring in a certain area or across the board across the University of Toronto, it would be better to identify structurally what’s going on there, why is this occurring repeatedly, and how can we address the root cause of that issue as opposed to continuously trying to help and deal with it after the fact. How do we stop these issues from happening in the first place?”

When asked why she is running for re-election, McGibbon-Gardner pointed to how she believes it is a “fairly universal feeling among graduate students to feel frustrated with not having access to the funding and academic resources,” adding that she feels less frustrated when she can work to help other graduate students in this situation.

“I feel very strongly that having a cohesive voice for graduate students is important and I want to be involved in that again.”

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