Graduate students have multiple roles beyond simply being a student within their institution; they are also teachers, workers, and researchers, all within the context of their studies. To fulfill these roles, graduate students must work closely with faculty, technical and administrative staff on campus, undergraduate students and other graduate students. Pressures such as high workloads and expectations as well as constant competition with peers for resources like funding can put a lot of strain on the relationships graduate students must have with other members of the campus community. This can often lead to cases of bullying and harassment within graduate studies. But what does bullying and harassment of Ontario graduate students look like? What factors affect Ontario graduate student mental health and what are the impacts?

Our Ontario Graduate Caucus has recently concluded the Not in the Syllabus online survey asking graduate students to identify and describe incidents related to bullying, harassment and mental health issues that they have either personally experienced or witnessed while studying. The Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Ontario University Workers Coordinating Committee of the Canadian Union of Public Employees collaborated on this project.

The Not in the Syllabus survey was circulated for 18 months and just over 2,000 responses were received from graduate students from all universities in Ontario possessing graduate programs. Thank you to all the graduate students who participated! The Federation has begun to analyze the results. The intent of our analysis and outcomes is for graduate students’ unions to use these results in order to influence and inform the development of campus resources designed to identify and confront bullying and harassment experienced by graduate students. We also anticipate that these results will be used to develop better mental health support resources specifically catered to graduate students’ mental wellness needs.

We will be holding consultations over the next few months by meeting with and releasing our findings to students’ unions and coalition partners. Stay tuned on social media and this page for updates. Feel free to contact us directly if you are looking to get involved with your students’ unions initiatives on mental health.