New Grad Student Orientation
The following information is provided to newly-admitted graduate students for orientation purposes when starting your graduate program.
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Things to do when you arrive
- Obtain a map of the campus, which is available online. Most labs, lecture halls and professorial offices related to the Department of Earth Sciences are located in the Biological & Geological Sciences Building (B&GS) and the Western Science Centre (WSC).
- Meet your Supervisor, and also meet Kevin Jordan, Academic Coordinator; Dr. Elizabeth Webb, Graduate Chair; Marie Schell, Administrative Officer; and Jennifer Thompson, Admin Assistant.
- Visit the Western Student Services (WSS) building to obtain your student card.
- Fees. See Financial Services for more information.
- Access to the B&G buildings is done by swiping your student card at the door. For certain graduate offices and laboratories, you will need keys. Your supervisor can provide a list of keys you will require, and you can request them online. There is a $25 refundable deposit per key.
- Your TA schedule, if applicable, is designated in late August of every year. Please see the instructor of the course(s) you have been assigned to for your TA duties. You will need to sign a contract which will be emailed to you. It is your responsibility to work only those hours for which you have been appointed. Notify your course supervisor if you feel your allotment of hours is being used up quickly, as he/she will have to adjust duties accordingly. Do not work more than those 140 allotted hours. There is a TA Training Program available - participation is recommended but not required.
- Payroll is done monthly on the second-last banking day of each month; you must enter your banking information on MyHR in order to get paid. You must also present your original Social Insurance Number (SIN) card at Human Resources, Support Services Building, Room 5300, at some point during your first term of residence.
- Obtain your bus pass. The Society of Graduate Students provides a City of London bus pass to all graduate students, which is provided through your student fees. You can collect your pass starting in late August in the SOGS office, UCC Rm. 260. See London Transit for information about buses.
- Ensure that your personal information in the Student Centre online is up to date, including your local address and telephone number. You must also provide next-of-kin information to the Department.
- Register for courses. The course schedule is posted online every August. Registration is done on the Student Centre. You should speak to your supervisor about courses before registering. Make sure you consult the degree requirements page for your program.
- See Kevin Jordan to be assigned a personal desk space in the Department. Grad students share common office space in B&GS and the Western Science Centre.
- If you are going to be making any travel expense claims while you are here, instructions can be found here.
- Review the International Student Centre's New International Student Pre-Arrival Guide for information about life in Canada, obtaining a student visa, and other important issues.
- When you first arrive at Western, your record will be locked until you show your Study Permit to the School of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies, International & Graduate Affairs Building, Room 1N07. You must do this first in order to activate yourself as a student. Please also provide the Academic Program Coordinator with a copy for our files.
- If you are going to be working as a Teaching Assistant, you must obtain a Social Insurance Number (SIN) from Service Canada. You will need a letter from the Department advising you are working in order to obtain one; see the Academic Program Coordinator. Once you have this letter, visit Service Canada at 457 Richmond St. (at Queens Ave., take #6 Richmond bus) in downtown London. A SIN card is a legal requirement for earning any income in Canada. Once you have your number, you must show the original document or card to Human Resources, SSB 5300.
- Check out the Student Development Centre website to learn about International Student Services. You may wish to take the International TA Training Program, though it is not required.
- Ensure you are registered in UHIP (University Health Insurance Plan) and pay the appropriate fees, which are included in your tuition. The card can be picked up at the WSS Building along with your student card.
Health & Safety
Everyone is required to take the following 4 modules:
- Western’s Employee Health and Safety Orientation – Work Safely at Western
- Comprehensive Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
- Safe Campus Community - Preventing Harassment, Violence, and Domestic Violence at Western
- Accessibility at Western (AODA): Accessibility in Teaching (for Faculty, Graduate Teaching Assistants, Archivists, and Librarians)
If you will be working in any lab other than a computer lab, you also need to take the Laboratory Safety - Hazardous Waste course.
Depending on your research, you may also be required to take other health & safety courses, such as Radiation, Biosafety, X-Ray, etc. Ask your supervisor if any of these apply to you.
How to Access OWL for the above training sessions:
- Log on to OWL at http://owl.uwo.ca
- Go to membership on the left, select “joinable sites” and then select the appropriate course.
- Once in the course module, use the tool bar on the left to navigate the different sections of the course.
- If you have trouble accessing OWL courses or forgot your password, you will need your name, student ID and username, and contact Saboor Fazelya in OHS (firstname.lastname@example.org), or the ITS Helpdesk at ext. 83800 or email@example.com
When you have completed your training, please send Jennifer Heidenheim (firstname.lastname@example.org) a PDF of your certificates for our department records. Your supervisor will also need a copy for the lab files, or if you are in the Stable Isotope Lab group, give the certificate to Grace Yau (email@example.com). If you will be working in the field, you are required to read and understand the Department’s Field Safety Policy.
Health and Wellness
As part of a successful graduate student experience at Western, we encourage students to make their health and wellness a priority. Western provides several on campus health-related services to help you achieve optimum health and engage in healthy living while pursuing your graduate degree. For example, to support physical activity, all students, as part of their registration, receive membership in Western’s Campus Recreation Centre. Numerous cultural events are offered throughout the year. Please check out the Faculty of Music web page, and our own McIntosh Gallery. Information regarding health- and wellness-related services available to students may be found at http://www.health.uwo.ca/
Students seeking help regarding mental health concerns are advised to speak to someone they feel comfortable confiding in, such as their faculty supervisor, their graduate chair, or other relevant administrators in their unit such as the academic program coordinator or administrative officer. Campus mental health resources may be found at http://www.health.uwo.ca/mental_health/resources.html
To help you learn more about mental health, Western has developed an interactive mental health learning module, found here: http://www.health.uwo.ca/mental_health/module.html. This module is 30 minutes in length and provides participants with a basic understanding of mental health issues and of available campus and community resources. Topics include stress, anxiety, depression, suicide and eating disorders. After successful completion of the module, participants receive a certificate confirming their participation.