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Grad student union presents four motions to CFS general meeting, one to propose film production on university commercialization

The Graduate Students’ Association (GSAÉD) will present a motion at the 33rd Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) general meeting to seek approval to produce a documentary on commercialization in Canadian universities.

It is one of four motions to be brought forward by the GSAÉD at the four-day conference Nov. 21–25.

The motion states that “$20,000 be allocated towards the creation of a 20- to 30-minute documentary on the commercialization of research in Canada’s post-secondary institutions.”

It also states the documentary would be finished within the year so it could be screened at the 34th CFS general meeting and be submitted to film festivals in 2014 and 2015 in the documentary category.

“Commercialization issues really affect graduate students, especially in terms of what funds are available for them to do their research,” said Seamus Wolfe, external commissioner for GSAÉD. “To get funding to go to school in the first place, what kind of research their professors and supervisors are doing, how they’re able to get research positions, is totally affected by the move towards further commercial interests in public university research.”

Wolfe said commercialization is one of the biggest issues faced by not only graduate students, but students across the country, and a documentary would be a good format to convey those issues.

He said the issues around commercialization “are somewhat complex,” which is why GSAÉD is looking to present them in a way that is engaging, but also covers as many facets of the issue as possible.

Wolfe also said he wants to build on what the CFS has been doing to raise awareness through short videos on YouTube and social media. However, he said a three- to five-minute video would be insufficient to cover commercialization on campus.

There are no concrete plans as to how the film will come together, but Wolfe said he has a vague outline of how he hopes the project would form.

“My ideal situation would be to find a school that would have a film program and go through the student union at that school to find some students who could be interested in doing this,” he said.

The motion will be brought forward to a committee to discuss, debate, and potentially propose amendments, prior to a full vote by all eligible delegates on the final day of the CFS general meeting. Wolfe said he feels positive about the motion’s chances of passing.

The $20,000 price tag was put on the motion “only to spur discussion,” according to Wolfe, who also said GSAÉD would be flexible on potential cost changes.

“I’m open to suggestions and I’m really interested to see what other people say and to see if other people think it’s a good idea.”