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Graduate Students’ Association withdraws $1,500 sponsorship of Undergraduate Research Symposium

By Scott Strasser, October 31 2016 —



SU vice-president Alicia Lunz // Photo: Justin Quaintance

The University of Calgary Graduate Students’ Association has opted out of its annual $1,500 sponsorship for this year’s Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS).

The URS is an annual research competition for U of C undergraduate students that takes place near the end of the fall semester. Run by the Students’ Union, the competition allows entries from each faculty to compete for $500 and $1,000 awards. 

Faculties and other organizations on campus sponsor the URS by providing award money for competition winners and runners-ups. The GSA typically allocates $1,500 a year to the symposium.

But after some miscommunications and disagreements between the GSA and the SU, the GSA opted out of its usual $1,500 allotment for 2016.

SU vice-president academic Alicia Lunz is the lead organizer for the URS and is responsible for approaching faculties and other potential sponsors. She said the GSA changed some of their internal protocols and created a new application form for funding requests. After disagreeing on details for a new automated system that would withdraw the $1,500 annually, Lunz said the GSA decided to forego sponsoring this year’s symposium.

According to a statement from GSA vice-president finance and services Arash Afshar, the GSA executive board proposed a long-term sponsorship model to the SU in which the GSA’s $1,500 for the URS would be guaranteed annually.

“Our intention with this gesture was to reduce the administrative load on the SU and ensure the continuity of funding to aspiring undergraduate student researchers regardless of any circumstances or changes in future GSA and SU boards,” Afshar’s statement reads. “Unfortunately, the GSA and the SU were not able to come to a mutual agreement on this issue.”

Lunz said she filled out the GSA’s new application form and was approved, but said that the two parties later couldn’t come to an agreement on the automated withdrawal system.

“They decided because of all these constraints, they weren’t going to fund it anymore. In one of the e-mails [GSA president] Sam Hossack sent me, she did say we could continue to apply for URS funding in future years through their application form,” Lunz said.

While Lunz is disappointed by the $1,500 loss in sponsorship, she said it shouldn’t have a serious impact on the competition this year.

“We still have $27,500 in awards, which is the most in URS history,” she said. “If we had only raised $5,000 and they were pulling $1,500, I’d be a little more mad. But because I was able to raise so much money anyways, it’s not a huge deal. But I really wanted to hit $30,000 this year.”

This year’s URS will take place on Dec. 1 in MacHall.

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