Message from the President
President's Message Spring Update, 2012
Dear Fellow AUSU members;
Spring is in the air, and with it, freshness and growth. Here at
AUSU, we're growing and changing too - so that we'll be able to serve you better!
We were happy to have a good turnout at this year's AGM, held on Feb. 29. At this meeting,
we were also able to make two announcements: the addition of a new administrative staff member and
also the acquisition of our own new office space. The new staff member will help alleviate some of
the demands placed on our two existing full-time staff, enabling us to take on previously back-burnered
projects. Our new office space, meanwhile, will provide stability for AUSU and give us room for growth
and enhanced student services.
We also have fresh ideas and perspectives in the form of a new AUSU Council and Executive group.
Our elections in March allowed our student body to select nine candidates to form the 2012-2014 AUSU
Council, and our three-person executive was elected internally from this group. The current AUSU Executive
consists of myself (Bethany Tynes), as President, Toni Fox as VP External and Student Affairs, and Jason
Nixon as VP Finance and Administration. Councillors Wendy Barnard, James Ramsbottom, Evan Schimdt, Ashley
Charlton, Kim Newsome, and Craig French round out the AUSU team. To ensure that we're serving you to the
fullest of our potential, the new group will immediately be undertaking orientation and a training program,
followed by which we will be setting strategic goals for the upcoming term. We look forward to a productive
The Province of Alberta, too, is in the midst of an election campaign. As AU's funding comes from
the Government of Alberta, the provincial election is something that affects all AU students, regardless of
where they live, so AUSU will be monitoring the election results, and also participating in the Alberta
Students' Executive Council (ASEC)'s "28 Faces" campaign to raise awareness of the importance of
post-secondary education to people from all walks of life. Regardless of which party wins the upcoming
election, AUSU will be pleased to congratulate the new government, and hope that they will recognize the
value of higher education.
There are also challenges currently facing AUSU, however. AU's financial situation has become a
concern to us, and the past few months have seen the publication of news articles by both the Athabasca
Advocate and the CBC about the university's economic woes. AUSU has put out a press release regarding this
situation, which you can read on
AUSU feels that a large degree of the financial stress being experienced at Athabasca University
is due to government underfunding of post-secondary education, and calls on the candidates in Alberta's
provincial election to make post-secondary funding a major priority in their election platforms. Public
post-secondary institutions need a reliable, predictable funding model. Base operating funds must be
sufficient to allow our universities to not only survive -- but to grow and flourish, offering world-class
education. We call upon the Government of Alberta to support students -- our students -- by providing
dependable funding for post-secondary education.
AUSU will be continuing to lobby the government for increased post-secondary funding in the months
to come, and we're very pleased that ASEC has been advocating the importance of post-secondary education
throughout the Alberta election campaign.
We will strive to keep you updated as we progress through this year, and hope to be able to
demonstrate distinct improvements by the end of our Council term.
Thank you for your continued confidence,
President's Message Winter Update, 2012
Dear AUSU members;
Happy New Year! I hope you've had the chance over the holidays to rest and relax with those who
are important to you - and maybe even squeeze in a little homework time as well!
If you need a hand getting organized this year, look no further, because our brand new 2012
Student Handbook/Planner is now available to students. Some of the information in these little books is
priceless when it comes to helping AU students navigate the university and our services - but they're
free for you, just for being an AUSU member! We even mail them right to your door. The details are
right here on our website!
2011 has been a busy year at AUSU. Over the past year, we've continued meeting regularly with
members of the university community, including Dr Margaret Haughey, AU's VP Academic, who has been very
interested in hearing the concerns of our students. We've also established a new relationship with the
Alberta Students' Executive Council (ASEC), a provincial lobby group representing fourteen post-secondary
institutes in Alberta to government and media.
We've recently been searching for a web design company to complete our long-planned website
overhaul, and while the project has not progressed as quickly as we wished, we are still planning to launch a
new, more contemporary-feeling website in the near future. In the meantime, we are also piloting the use of
a new email management system to send electronic newletters to the students who have registered on our website.
If the pilot continues to be successful, we will also look at the possibility of expanding our e-newsletters
to hopefully reach a wider audience of AUSU members.
We've recently reviewed and revised many of our standing policies. Our policy on scholarships,
awards, and bursaries has seen some particularly noticable improvements. We're now offering our awards more
often - some are offered year-round, while the remainder will be available on a quarterly basis. We've also
increased the number of some awards given. You can find all the details on our awards page,
here on our website!
Another policy that was recently amended was our councillor wage policy. Students who serve on
AUSU Council are eligible to receive one free AU course per year on council. Previously, however, the policy
stated that if any councillor withdrew from or failed a single course benefit, they would never be eligible
for another, regardless of how many years they served on council or if they were re-elected to serve
multiple terms. While we want councillors to be accountable, we also don't want to be unduly harsh or
punative toward them by removing all potential future benefits for a possibly a single mistake, so this
policy has been amended.
As we move into the new year, Council is also very pleased to announce that our 2012 election
timelines have been finalized! We'll be hiring a Chief Returning Officer (CRO) in January, and on February 6th,
a Call for Nominations will be released, giving you all the information you'll need to run for AUSU Council,
2012-2014. Nominations will remain open until February 20th, and campaigning will occur between Feb. 21 and
March 2. All current students will be able to vote online March 3-6. Joining AUSU Council is a great way to
serve your fellow students, as well as gain valuable leadership experience, so I encourage you to consider
running in our upcoming elections. Or if you don't have time to commit to being on Council yourself, you
can at least get involved by reading about the candidates and casting an educated ballot.
2012 is going to be an exciting year at AUSU, and we're looking forward to sharing it with you!
President's Message Fall Update, 2011
Dear fellow AUSU members;
It's September again already, and whether you took the summer off classes to spend time outdoors, or whether you study year round like I do, I hope you had the opportunity to enjoy the sunshine this summer, and are ready to get back into your classes.
This year at AUSU, we're working on improving communications - both internal communications (with you, our members) and external communications (with the university, government, and media). With that in mind, I'd like to share with you some of what we've been up to at AUSU over the last few months:
To improve communications internally, we're currently in the midst of a major website overhaul. Our current site has served us well, but we think it's time to give it a facelift to ensure that it has a contemporary look and feel, as well as to improve its functionality. Our council and executive group have spent a lot of time discussing what we need and want in a website, and have distributed a request for proposals for this redesign. We look forward to launching our new site sometime in the near future!
AUSU will be hiring in the near future to ensure that we have sufficient staff to meet the needs of our ever-growing student body. A part-time bookkeeper recently started with us on a contract basis, and we will be adding a part-time administrative staff member soon as well. This position will be opened to students and listed on our website, so keep your eyes open in the weeks to come.
Our AUSU media committee has been hard at work coming up with newsletter story ideas, front-page surveys, and, of course, focusing on the 2012 AUSU Handbook/Planner. Our Awards committee continues to develop new and exciting awards for deserving AUSU members, and the Finance Committee continues to oversee operations and ensure that we're giving you good value for your dollar.
To improve external communications, we're very pleased to announce that we have been accepted as members of the Alberta Students' Executive Council (ASEC). ASEC represents students at fourteen post-secondary institutions across Alberta, and recognizes that there is no such thing as a "normal" student. In the past year, ASEC has been very successful in their efforts to court government and media, and was the driving force behind the launch of the new Serving Communities Internship Program. We're really looking forward to working with ASEC to represent our students' unique needs!
We are very pleased that AU's governance structure is changing to more closely resemble that found in other Alberta universities. Part of this change is that the new AU General Faculties Council (GFC) will contain two undergraduate student representatives, as opposed to the one student representative on the current AU Academic Council. There will also be an undergraduate student representative on the GFC Executive Committee, where we have never before had a seat. The GFC is one of the two highest governing bodies of Athabasca University, so we are thrilled to have a stronger voice within this group!
As the president of YOUR students' union, I am honoured to serve you, and will look forward to keeping you updated on our progress in these and other areas in the months to come!
Thank you for your time,
President's Message Winter Update, December 19, 2008
I've delayed writing this to you because I've been waiting for certain issues and votes to be finalized by Council. I'm
happy to say that this is now complete, and so I can bring you the news I've been sitting on.
First, I am sure you will all have noticed that the new planner is now available for pre-order. Designed entirely
by our Executive Director, all of Council chipped in at the end to make sure that this is the best planner we've provided yet.
In early December, the final proof copies were double checked to make sure that everything is perfect, and the books are
on the press now. We anticipate that the first shipment will begin delivery as soon as we re-open in the new year. We'd
hoped for it a bit sooner, but it's a bigger book than last year, with more pages and more information, and, consequently,
more time being taken to get it all right.
Several upgrades are included in this edition, based on the feedback and requests of members. When you get your
copy, we'd love to know what you think! We've also slightly changed the ruler/bookmark from last year so that it has a
slightly different cut, because we heard some of you were having problems with it falling out.
To help us focus on the key issues affecting members, AUSU has built a database to keep track of the various
issues that you bring forward. Currently, our VP External is prowling through the back messages of the forums, making sure
that all the complaints we have from the last year are recorded properly, so that we can generate solid statistical reporting
(with no personal data included) for the university to back our suggestions. As always, it's important that if you have
any difficulties with a tutor or AU, let us know - even if you don't want us to do anything - as that way we can see what
areas we need to focus the university's attention on.
Council has also developed a new award, which will provide a 3-credit AU undergraduate course to its winner. It
is designed to recognize the courage and struggles undergone by the large number of our members who have returned to school
after a significant absence. AUSU recognized that there is a lack of awards for mature students who, perhaps dislocated
from their careers by this economy, have returned to post-secondary education and found the transition a little more than
they expected. This award will be provided twice per year, and will require applicants provide some background on the
hardships they've encountered on the path to fulfilling their post-secondary education.
Recently, council has also completed a wage review for councillors and executives. Near the end of the last term
AUSU Council hired external management consultants, the Grand River Group, to examine AUSU and recommend
improvements to our management and pay structure to ensure that they are equitable and appropriate for AUSU.
Among their recommendations was that AUSU adopt a consistent wage philosophy that reflects the age, experience, and
expectations placed upon members of Council and staff. In line with this, they noted that the pay of the executive members
was slightly below what would be consistent with this philosophy, and that the pay of non-executive
councillors was actually far too high, and should be frozen immediately. The previous council adopted the latter
recommendation, but agreed that raising executive wages was not within the AUSU budget at the time.
This term, Councillors re-examined the report, and decided that AUSU had not gone far enough. In addition,
Council wanted some means to recognize the extra effort put in by those Councillors who sat or chaired AUSU committees.
To afford this, Councillors agreed to cut their regular council wage in half, reducing it by $227.53/month, and provide
a small raise to the executive members, with a 9.9% increase to the VPs, increasing their pay to $1250/month, and a 5.5%
increase to the President, making the president's wage $1800/month - thus recognizing that these positions essentially
preclude a full-time job/course-load.
In addition, this has made it possible for AUSU to provide remuneration of $75/month/committee to councillors
sitting on AUSU committees, and $125/month for councillors who chair committees, with the restriction that the total amount
earned shall not exceed what any councillor would have been paid before these changes. Executives are not paid additional
wages for committee positions or chairing as this is considered to be part of their normal role. As you can imagine, we
had extensive debate about these proposals, as cutting your own wages is a difficult issue for anyone, but the new structure
more clearly ties council wages to workload and recognizes that council workloads do vary considerably. I'm very pleased
and proud of this Council for taking those difficult steps for the benefit of AUSU.
In other financial news, our external auditors have nearly completed their annual audit, and AUSU will be putting
together our annual report and scheduling our Annual General Meeting once we have returned from holidays in the new year.
AUSU will also be meeting with the tutors' union in the new year to discuss tutor service standards and whether there are
any issues on which we may wish to jointly lobby the university, to ensure that each of you get the service that AU advertises.
I should also note AU executives have recently made many encouraging comments suggesting that the issue of service standards
will be a priority in the coming year, and AUSU looks forward to working with the university to resolve this very important issue.
Council's ad hoc Audio/Visual committee continues to meet to form the basics of what we will do for an AUSU sponsored
station. The committee is scheduled to have its final report and recommendations to Council by February 1 2009.
Finally, with the Christmas break, we have moved our end of the month orientation/chat session to December 23rd. If
you have any questions about how to do things at AU, or any questions about AUSU, contact our office at
firstname.lastname@example.org to get the dial in information, and we look forward to hearing you there.
So, to all of our members, I wish you the happiest of holidays, and hope you'll be able to find some time during the
holiday season to catch up on course work. I know that's what I'll be doing!
President's Message - Summer Update, July 24, 2008
Summer is on us, and most students unions pretty much close up shop during these months. Student
newspapers shut down, and university campuses across the nation nearly empty as students seek summer employment and
staff take vacations. At AUSU however, summer is a time for planning and preparation. Even though AU doesn't have a
fixed schedule of classes, September and January are still our busiest months, and see a large number of new
students, so it's good for us to be ready for them with ways that they can get the most out of AU.
Some of what we've been planning you'll no doubt see when our latest newsletter hits your mailbox
in the next few days, and if you haven't had a chance to visit our
employment centre site, please do so and think about filling in your skills,
talents, and ambitions. Who knows, you could find yourself being contacted by your dream employer.
We've heard from a number of members who note that one of the hardest things about AU is the sense that you're all on your own out here. As anybody who has contacted our staff can attest, it's certainly not the case, but the feeling is still there. So to help address this, come late August, Council is going to start holding a series of telephone get-togethers. These will essentially be scheduled open conversations, where any member (or even prospective member) can call in and be able to talk to a couple of students who have nearly completed their programs and get advice on what some of the common pitfalls to being an AU student are and how to avoid them. If some friendships spark up during the course of conversation, then so much the better.
Council has also approved the development of a returning student award. AUSU, perhaps better than anyone, understands the courage it takes to return to schooling after a long absence, and we know that getting back into the swing of things isn't easy even if financial considerations aren't a concern. So to help encourage people, AUSU will be offering a free course twice per year. Further details of the award are still being worked out, but we hope to have it in place by the start of the next financial year (October 1)
Along with that, we hope to see an upgraded, revamped web-site as well as an entirely new course-survey system which will be easier to use and ask questions that have a lot more relevance to what people are looking for. The new website should also come with a small selection of new merchandise for purchase, with greater selection being available as we find items that AUSU members will hopefully find unique and useful.
Some of you may also be aware that a new club will shortly be starting up for gay, lesbian, transgender, and basically any student who is of non-traditional sexuality. Such things are always touchy topics, as they deal with the most intimate issues of our own personalities, but we're looking forward to providing a safe place where these students can discuss the issues they've encountered.
In addition, our popular "Tutor of the Year" contest is scheduled to make a come-back. So if you've had a tutor who has gone above and beyond the call of duty, one you really felt was interested in having you learn and helpful in your quest to do so, keep them in mind and be sure to enter their name when the contest comes around. The winner gets a framed certificate from AUSU as well as our extreme thanks, and of course bragging rights to his or her peers.
On a more serious note, however, we've heard an increasing number of complaints about tutors taking far too long to mark assignments, not providing adequate feedback, and sometimes even just referring students back to the textbook with no additional information. Clearly, this is unacceptable to us and to you. We will be scheduling meetings with various people in AUSU to address this, because proper tutor support is really one of the key features that makes AU so successful in helping people reach their educational goals.
In other sad news, I'm sure everybody has heard about the earthquakes that ravaged China not very long ago. AUSU has many members located in China and has provided a small donation for the Red Cross's efforts there. One of the few pitfalls of a distance education is that tragedy anywhere is tragedy that hits home. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to our members and to others that were affected by these terrible quakes.
Finally, to leave on a high note, AUSU is happy to note that our donations to the Coalition for Student Loan Fairness have paid off handsomely. Due in part to our funding allowing the Coalition to conduct high quality research, the problems and difficulties with student loans have been brought forward to the Senate, by the Honourable Yoine Goldstein. The CSLF has also been able to get themselves an permanent slot in the Education section of Macleans' Magazine online site. We're happy to know that the issue of Student Loan difficulties and high interest will not just fade away, even though the government has committed to a series of cosmetic changes.
Hope you have a great summer!
President's Message - Spring Update, April 18, 2008
Wasn't that a party? 103 Candidates at the outset, whittled down to 70-some on the ballot itself, and finishing up with your current Council of nine. The changeover period is now complete, and Council elected its new executive group, consisting of myself as President, Barb Rielly as your new VP External, and Sarah Kertcher as your new VP Finance. We want to give thanks for the service provided from the outgoing members, Lisa Priebe, Mac McInnis, and Joy Krys, and thanks to all of you for running or getting engaged in the political process and bringing forward your ideas. Rest assured that Council will be taking a look at each of these ideas over the coming term.
Voter turnout for the election, though lower than we'd hoped in absolute numbers, was approximately equal in ratio to other Alberta Universities on an FLE basis. Given the distance nature of our membership and high number of visiting students already represented by other students' unions, I feel this is a strong testament to the will and desire of our members to be involved. Council will be taking steps to increase opportunities for member involvement, both in Council, and at AU. Some of what this means can be seen in the recent call for student-at-large volunteers to sit on the business and CIS planning committees, and we hope to see additional such positions in future.
In other news, AUSU has agreed in principle to collaborate on an employment site with the Personnel Department. Unlike typical job sites such as Monster.com, this one will have employers directed to it through the Personnel Department's network of employment agencies across Canada, and they will be specifically looking for recent graduates and people like you. This is one of those situations that is definitely win-win. They get a pool of some of the best graduates and self-motivated university students out there for jobs and internships; you get free access to a pool of motivated employers who have been brought in by professional employment firms, and AUSU gets half of the fees that these employers pay, which we can redirect into programs that benefit you. Other aspects the site will provide is automated resume generation for applicants and searchable employment listings tailored to AU students across the country. It's a development that we're really excited about moving forward, and it will help us speed up our own development of further career resources. Over time, we plan to add additional resources to aid students in their career searches.
One of the other developments in the works is a revamped web site for AUSU. While the old site has served us well, it's beginning to show its age and a revamp will not only give us more room for the important news items we put on the front page, but hopefully make it more feasible to include new ways for you to find out what Council is up to (i.e., Councillor blogs or podcasts), while leaving the forums as the primary space for contact between members. In fact, a revamp of the website is only one part of a general strategy of Council providing more communication to the members. Along those lines, I'd like to make a commitment, right now, to having at least one new President's message available to you between every public Council meeting, the next one of which is scheduled for May 26th at 6:00pm MST (feel free to join us-- write email@example.com to find out how).
Not all the news is good, however. Tuition will be going up again this year. It will be increasing by 4.5% for those in Alberta, and 5.0% for those in other provinces. However, Council has managed to convince AU to not make any increases to the Learning Resource Fee until we all have a solid understanding of exactly what that $160 is being spent on. Again, your student union fee and alumni relations fee remain unchanged at $8 and $2 respectively. This means a real increase of 3.2% for Alberta students (to $610 from $591) and 3.8% for those in other provinces (to $715 from $689). Those out of country will see a total increase of 5.8% (to $935 from $884). You'll see those changes come into effect as of September 1, 2008.
On yet another front, the AU Awards committee is meeting soon to discuss a review of the AU awards program. High on our list is to press for the replacement of the lifetime cumulative GPA with the more reasonable idea of a yearly (30-credit) GPA, and an expansion not only of the number of awards, but also of the timing. With open enrolment, tying AU awards to the traditional academic year makes little sense and can leave a lot of students out in the cold. A wider selection of awards, provided at various times throughout the year, can help to ensure that everybody who needs or deserves an award receives one.
Finally, as my third term on this Council, I have to say it has been interesting watching the progression of AUSU building a solid foundation and structure for the organization. This term should let us use that to start to move forward strongly with student concerns, and the recent election has given us a lot of input as to what those concerns are. I hope to see a few of you at the next Council meeting, but until then, have a great spring and best of luck in your studies!
President's Message - AUSU Fall and Winter Update, November 2007
It was a busy fall for AUSU with an important announcement for the university that has been nearly two years in the planning.
On September 28th, 2007, the minister of Advanced Education and Technology, the Hon. Doug Horner, announced the approval of a $30 million grant for a new administration and research building on the main AU campus in Athabasca. The university has stated that this building will help to ensure that our education continues to be of high quality; in response, AUSU requested additional information from AU Governing Council about how they will meet the educational and service needs of our membership. The request was sent via an open letter to Governing Council chair Joy Romero, which was available on our website and in the Voice. Ms. Romero's response to the members has also been posted in these locations and should be of interest to all AUSU members.
While the funding for the new building has gone a long way toward addressing the physical infrastructure needs of our university (the funding is earmarked for expansion of the main campus only), we will continue to push for additional funding for our virtual and online student services and for expansions in Edmonton and Calgary. As these services arguably form the backbone of our educational experience, we feel that this is the next logical step in securing the future of our university. We also continue to lobby for AU to create a physical presence in Ontario and have learned that initiatives are being taken to address this.
Another important AU development specifically targets the administration and calculation of the Honour's List. Previously, the honour's list, calculated semi-annually, selected recipients on the basis of their life-time cumulative GPA across all programs completed at AU. In 2007 AUSU successfully lobbied the university to change their honour's list criteria to be consistent with those of the majority of Canadian universities. We reported on the pending changes in our last AUSU newsletter, mailed to all members in the summer. Last month, AU approved these changes, and beginning in January, 2008, the Honour's list GPA will be calculated using the most recent 30 credits to represent a traditional academic year. This new system will allow students to continually work toward inclusion on the Honour's list, despite poor performance in any single year. This development marks the first step toward realizing the goal of our position policy on AU's use of a lifetime GPA for any purpose.
AUSU has also changed the criteria for one of our internal awards: our popular Computer Bursary previously utilized a quarterly deadline for applications. However, given the focus on financial need and the need to respond to emergency situations, the application deadline for this bursary has been removed so that members can apply at any time of the year. We hope that this change will continue to demonstrate AUSU's commitment to our members' needs.
Progress is also being made toward providing AUSU members with access to discount pricing on software and books. In traditional universities, these are common services, but AU students have often been unable to easily access special student and group pricing on these important items. One way we hope to address this is through partnering with Journey Education, providers of educational versions of software for students. JourneyEd.ca has provided this service for some time, but as of this year has been able to provide Adobe products at the lowest possible discount rate for Canadian students (a substantial savings even over a few months ago). Work continues on trying to negotiate an even better deal on Microsoft Office, the most important software for our members. Journey Ed has purchased advertizing in our upcoming Handbook/Planner and will have a special webpage for our members. Additionally, we are considering purchasing a full license to permit all of our users to download and use the popular Smart Draw package for free.
Readers of our newsletter will also recall our article on AU Awards and our concerns about application processes and monies not awarded last year. We have secured our spot on the Awards Committee for the upcoming year and are confident that our concerns will be addressed through the awards revision process.
As always, AUSU continues to track student concerns and address the most common, ongoing issues with high level AU executives. The biggest problem our members are reporting this year continues to be problems with AU tutor Service Standards. To address this, we have been meeting the AU President, VP Academic and VP Advancement to discuss ways of resolving the issue. We will also be creating a statistical database of complaints based on comments in our forum, to track the prevalence of various issues affecting our members. No personal information will be used in our lobbying, however. AU has also installed a new complaint tracking system to ensure that statistical data can be maintained across university departments so that problem areas can be quickly identified.
We have also completed a comprehensive security review and revision of our website, to ensure that member data is kept safe, and will continue to review our systems at regular intervals. Another planned review is an enhanced job center where employers can log in and post their positions for students.
As the year- end nears, we are busy assisting our accountants in performing a complete audit of the 2006/07 financial year, as well as a review of our financial control systems and reporting mechanisms. This is a more involved process than we are required to complete or have completed in the past, but we feel that this process will ensure that we are operating under the best possible practices to safeguard member funds. Also in the coming month we will have our new, 2008 Handbook/Planner available for order, a newsletter will be mailed to all members, and we will begin the process of our next general students' council election.
President's Message - March, 2007
2006 was an extraordinarily busy year for AUSU; however, given the incredible 10% growth in annual undergraduate
registrations, this pattern will most likely continue over the next few years. In addition, the Alberta boom has resulted in
an extremely competitive job market in Edmonton, and the AUSU office experienced some changeover in administrative staff.
Despite these changes, business continued as usual, some new projects were started and lobbying has continued unabated.
One exciting change occurring at the university is the formation of the Academic Council Governance Review
committee. As AU is now a bi-cameral university (governed by two councils) it was decided that the Academic Council structure
was in need of review. The intent of the review is to address the recent change to a bi-cameral system as well as issues of
representation given our incredible growth. Currently, AUSU has a single student rep on AUAC and there are no student-at-large
reps - resulting in only 4% student representation. This is in marked contrast to the other Alberta universities which have,
on average, 25% student representation on their own academic councils - more commonly referred to as a General Faculties
Council. AUSU has a rep on the new governance review committee, and we plan to push for additional student representation on
Academic Council. While this committee has yet to meet, we will keep AUSU members updated on our progress.
On the external front, many members will probably be aware of the recent change in leadership of the Alberta
government. In late November, the Hon. Ed Stelmach was elected as the leader of the provincial conservative party, and
therefore became the new Premier of the province. The new leader immediately revised the provincial cabinet, and we have
a new Minister of Advanced Education: the Hon. Doug Horner. The AUSU Executive drafted a letter of welcome to the new
Premier and the members of the new cabinet and an information package will be following in early March. We look forward to
working with Mr. Horner over the next few months, to gain increased funding for AU and improve the quality of education for
Finally, AU's Annual General Meeting will be held earlier this year. It is anticipated that the AGM will be held in
mid-spring. A newsletter announcing the precise date will be mailed out prior to the meeting, so members will be able to
attend by teleconference. Members are encouraged to participate in the discussion and vote on any agenda items. The AGM is
always an excellent opportunity to meet councillors, particularly if you are considering running for the 2008 election. I
look forward to meeting members at this meeting and I wish everyone a bright and warm spring.
Lisa Priebe - President, AUSU
President's Annual General Meeting Message - August, 2006
This fiscal year has been a time of great change for both AUSU and AU. What began as a small, rural university has blossomed into the largest university in Alberta and an institution that is recognized worldwide for excellence in distance education. Our reputation overseas, in particular, continues to grow and our recent accreditation in the United States provides us with opportunities that no other university in Canada or the US can provide.
Our Students' Union, formed in 1993 by a small group of energetic, forward-thinking students from around the world, was once the only students' association in the world representing a population entirely composed of distance education students. Today, we're being contacted by fledgling groups from around the world who want to know how we have grown and prospered while representing our widespread group. AUSU, as a whole, has become an incredibly professional organization drawing increasingly skilled and visionary individuals who are keen to represent their fellow students.
The 2006 AUSU Council election proved to be exceptional in many regards. First, the largest number of nominations in AUSU history were received for the 2006 - 2008 Council. Eighteen members from across Canada self-nominated for the election, representing British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and New Brunswick. We even had one candidate from the US state of California. Ontario members boasted the highest proportion of nominations with 9 out of 18 hailing from that province. In the end, nine individuals were elected to council, including four from Alberta, four from Ontario and one from British Columbia, creating a council that for the first time in AUSU history consists primarily of students from outside of Alberta. The inclusion of more councillors outside of Alberta has been, in part, made more viable due to our successful lobbying for Athabasca University to allow university committee representatives to teleconference to more meetings.
It is also interesting to note that the election results closely match the current AU student demographics, with Alberta and Ontario neck and neck for the highest number of AUSU members and B.C. currently ranking third highest. AUSU council for the 2006/08 term consist of: Real Beaulieu (Nepean, ON), Lonita Fraser (Hamilton, ON), Joy Krys (Edmonton, AB), Huma Lodhi (Waterloo, ON), Karl Low, Mac McInnis, and Lisa Priebe (all of Calgary, AB), Barb Rielly (Westport, ON) and Sarah Whaley (Surrey, BC).
A major achievement this year has been the realization of a Health and Dental discount program for AUSU members, which we offered for the first time in spring 2006. The program, arranged through Ingle International and Imagine Financial Ltd., will help students obtain health and dental coverage as well as supplement current third party coverage. It is available to students in almost all Canadian locations, allows students to include all members of their families, and provides continuing coverage after studies conclude or during a hiatus. AUSU will continually assess this new program over the upcoming year to ensure it meets the needs of our membership, and we are in constant contact with the insurer to tweak the program and enhance the information that is provided to students through both our, and the insurer's, web sites.
Substantial operational and governance changes were also implemented over the past year, including: a revision of the current committee system; significant updates and revisions to the AUSU policy manual; and changes in communication flow and delegation of authority. In addition, a new part-time Office Assistant was hired to help address the increasing work load within the union and process requests for our 2005/06 Handbook/Planner - the most popular publication in our history.
Relations with the university continue to be positive, particularly in light of the hiring of a new university President and VP Academic. AUSU council continues to work with the university to help improve communication processes to ensure that our members' voice is heard.
Over the coming year, council intends to focus on our external relations, including developing more links with our Ontario counterparts as well as forging new relations with various departments of advanced education across the country. Internally, AUSU will be looking to revamp and improve current programs including the current Mentor program and our Groups and Clubs system. To follow the success of the 2005/06 Planner, we are hard at work on the 2007 edition, and will continue to advertise AUSU to new members through our very successful postcards in AU course boxes.
We hope to hear from you,
Lisa Priebe - President, AUSU
President's End of Term Message - December 19, 2005
This will be my final communication with you this term as our election date draws near. It's been an eventful two years, and there is much to cover -- including the projects we have completed this term, and the many initiatives that are in progress for the new council to continue.
The big event this month is our election. The new council will provide you with student services and advocacy over the next two years, and your vote is important to ensure that the new council reflects the unique makeup of our AUSU membership. Voting will be online, through our secure software system, and monitored by our Chief Returning Officer. It will only take a minute, so please drop in between March 13 and 16 to cast your vote. You can review information on the candidates in this newsletter and on our website. In 2004 turnout was very low, but our contact from members has risen dramatically since that time and we expect many more votes this year! We have fifteen candidates for this election - possibly the most we've ever had, so you can rest assured that many of your peers are eager to serve your needs over the coming term.
The second, and by no means lesser, important development this quarter is the introduction of our Health Care discount for AUSU members. A year in the making, this plan allows members across Canada (with the exception of Quebec at this time) to purchase health and dental insurance from a major Canadian provider at huge discounts for members only. We believe our plan offers greater flexibility and accessibility than standard university plans, and we hope you'll provide us with feedback on the services that are offered. This is the first time AU students have had a comprehensive health plan offered at significantly reduced prices, and we believe it may be the only university plan that include students' family members. AUSU members have long requested health coverage, and providing this opportunity is one of our proudest achievements.
Throughout this term, councillors have also worked hard on your behalf to raise the profile of distance education in Alberta and across Canada. When Alberta announced the formation of a steering committee to review the status of post-secondary education in the province, we saw an opportunity to ensure the government was aware of the unique needs and benefits of AU. In addition to collaborating with student groups on a joint submission to the steering committee, AUSU was the only university students' group to also make an independent submission to ensure the government is aware of the many benefits of a distance degree from AU. Additionally, we have initiated a relationship with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance to represent the needs of our many students in that province and we have greatly increased our communication with university departments and the AU executive group. In fact, key members of the university executive recently met with AUSU to provide us an opportunity to present our goals and the concerns of students at AU. This is our third meeting with the AU executive in the last six months -- a significant increase from previous years.
Toward the goal of increasing the transparency of AUSU operations, we have made a number of changes in how we report to members. The most important of these is our new focus on forming official position policies defining our goals and posture toward key post-secondary issues. These policies are available through our website and provide a means for students to track our goals and priorities. Additionally, we have begun placing postcards advertising AUSU services in course boxes -- project that has led to a near doubling of our website traffic in less than six months. We're pleased to announce that participation at council meetings has increased, and this year our Annual General Meeting had more participants than in any previous year. Contact from students has risen so significantly that we've hired a third, part-time staff member to ensure your requests are being filled in a timely manner!
Last, but certainly not least, the past two years have been a time of restructuring for AUSU. Previously, our governance structure revolved around a part-time elected council performing many of the administrative functions of the union, and little time was left for policy and program development. Over this term we have made significant changes to this structure, to ensure that skilled staff are performing administrative functions, and councillors are focusing on ways to provide better services, new programs and enhanced advocacy to raise the profile of distance education. We have noticed a significant increase in productivity, and a generally smoother operation of the union now that the duties of councillors are better defined.
This has likely been the most eventful term for AUSU council, as it was for the university itself. In 2005 AU became the first university to become accredited in both the United States and Canada -- a project that took nearly four years and which included AUSU executive members and staff as student representatives on the accreditation committees. We're proud to have played a key role in this landmark project, and are furthering that tradition with our recent involvement on the Strategic Planning committee of AU. This committee will develop the strategic plan that will direct AU's development over the next five years, so ensuring our members have input is vital. The research phase for the plan will be winding down just as our term ends, and we hope the new council will continue to provide input on what our members want throughout the final plan development phase.
Other items of note from the past year include:
- The development of the new AUSU Handbook/Planner, produced by AUSU for our members. Our most popular publication to date, over 3000 have mailed so far.
- A complete overhaul of our website security systems, to allow for easier upgrades in the future and to ensure that all of our account systems are using the very latest security technology.
- The introduction of video-conferencing for AUSU executives and staff in response to the university's request that we provide a better "presence" at meetings with the university. This project is in its infancy, but we embrace new distance communication methods and opportunities.
- Production of this newsletter has increased to two/year.
- The AUSU awards program was again modified to provide more funds, more computers for students in need, and more awards for students in financial need.
- We've worked with the university to improve AU's awards program and to ensure that students in need are well represented.
Lisa Priebe - President, AUSU
Season's Greetings from the President - December 19, 2005
The December holidays have traditionally been the time for students to relax and regain energy for the Winter semester. However, here at AUSU we're already ramping up for an exciting spring election. The nomination period for AUSU council candidates has opened and we will be accepting nominations until January 14th, 2006. If you are interested in running for the next AUSU council, I encourage you to submit a self-nomination or email our staff for further information. The election itself will take place in mid March 2006 and the council changeover will occur in April .
Another exciting event that AUSU is working on is arranging student focus groups aimed at helping AU to build their strategic plan for the next five years. We are working in conjunction with the university to ensure that student input is received and utilized in the drafting of this plan. Therefore, it is vital that as many AUSU members as possible join us for these focus groups in late January and provide as much input as you can. We will be posting additional information as this project unfolds, so please watch the website for updates.
I would like to end this message by wishing everyone a happy holiday season on behalf of AUSU council and staff, and all the best in the New Year.
President's Message - September 28, 2005
Hello AUSU members!
I hope everyone had a fantastic summer; it certainly has been a busy time for your students' union. Since I have covered our work over the past year in our 2005 Annual Report and our recently mailed newsletter, I won't discuss what we have accomplished but rather focus on our plans for the upcoming year.
One of the most exciting potential developments this fall is the implementation of a student health/dental discount for AUSU members. AUSU has continually searched for a health program over the years, but it has been difficult to find a company flexible enough to work within AU's monthly start dates. Unlike the health plans administered by other students unions, ours will not require AUSU to collect fees on behalf of the student. Rather the student will receive a substantial discount at the third party insurer by providing proof of student status at AU.
Although this system will require more active administration on behalf of our members, it will allow part-time students to qualify for coverage - something that does not occur in most students union health plans. Also, this particular health insurer offers supplemental plans for those with existing third party coverage through their employer or spousal plans. Rather than being forced to choose between health plans, you can purchase specific coverage to supplement your existing plan; such as eyeglasses or increased dental coverage. We'll keep you updated as to our progress, so please look to the website for new developments.
While I have mentioned this before, it's such an important development that I decided to make a quick note again. AU has finally created over $200,000 in new bursaries for students; this is an exciting change as this is the first time AU has offered needs-based awards. When combined with AUSU bursaries, this is a substantial new source of funding for AU students. However, while AUSU offers multiple application dates throughout the year, AU is currently restricting its bursary applications to the Fall. Therefore, if you're considering applying for these awards the deadline to apply is October 15th this year.
Another important reminder is the upcoming AUSU election in Spring 2006. AUSU currently holds bi-annual elections and the nomination process will begin this winter. From my own experience, student governance provides some excellent areas for personal growth and the ability to advocate for your fellow students. If you are interested in running for council please watch the website for upcoming election notices.
I hope everyone has a productive fall, and remembers to apply for those new awards!
President's Message - March 2005
As we head into March and spring, AUSU has undergone some recent changes with our council Executive. On February 28th Mac McInnis, who has served as council President for the past 12 months, decided to step down from the AUSU Executive. While it's sad to see Mac leave the position of President, I am happy to say he has decided to remain as an AUSU Councillor without portfolio. Seeing as the VP External and Student Affairs position was also vacant, Karl Low decided to step down as VP-Finance and Administration so that a new Executive election could take place at the February 28th council meeting.
Upon completion of the election process, Karl Low was once again elected to the post of VP Finance & Administration and Lonita Fraser was elected the new VP External & Student Affairs. Many students will know Lonita from her work as the chair for the Groups and Clubs Committee, an extremely active sector of AUSU student services. I am thrilled to have been elected the new President of AUSU and I hope to serve the union well over the remainder of my term.
In other student news, the recent announcement of a tuition subsidy from the Klein government has been a welcome surprise to Alberta students. Unfortunately, this subsidy will not affect our out of province members and will only be in affect for one academic year. This could potentially lead to a severe hike in tuition for Alberta students once the subsidy expires in 2006-2007. For an excellent explanation of the tuition subsidy and how it will affect you as a student please see the recent editorial by Tamra Ross Low in Volume 13 Issue 08 (2005-02-23) of The Voice.
AUSU is currently working on a new version of its student planner, which we're hoping to have available by May of 2005. Students can feel free to contact the office to pre-order a copy of the new planner, which will include calendar pages through December 2006. The new scholarship program has also been a tremendous success and with the next award deadline quickly approaching (April 1st) I encourage all students to apply for AUSU awards. As a reminder, if you volunteer for your local community or AUSU please feel free to ask your supervisor to nominate you for the AUSU Student Service Award. All application & nominations forms are available on our Awards website at: http://www.ausu.org/services/scholarships.php.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter long weekend and an opportunity to rest from your studies!
We are well into the New Year and the Students’ Union has been busy attending to student affairs. We
are in the process of wrapping up our website survey and hope this will help us determine what students would like to see
on our website. This will be followed with another survey about what programs and services students would like to see
offered by their Students' Union. Another initiative that your union has been actively involved with is the revamping of the
awards program so more awards are based on needs rather than academic achievement. This revision to the awards
program was based on students' requests. We have been
active with the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) in promoting post-secondary education at the government level.
Looking ahead, we are gearing up for convocation ceremonies to be held in Athabasca this June. We hope all our graduating
members can attend this special event.
The arrival of the next student handbook will be posted on the website. Please keep checking the website as the exact
date will be posted there. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Teresa Neuman for her hard work on the students' union.
Unfortunately, Teresa resigned from the position of Vice President External this month. Teresa's dedication and hard work made
a positive difference as the voice of Eastern Canada. While Teresa will be missed by members of AUSU, we would like wish her
the best in her future endeavors. Thank you Teresa!
AUSU Monthly Update, June 2004
What your student council is doing for you
- The biggest recent news has been the election of a new Executive Committee to take the helm of the AUSU. Elected to the role of President was returning
Councillor Mac McInnis. Also returning to the AUSU Council is Teresa Neuman who was elected to serve as Vice-President, External, and Karl Low was
re-elected as Vice-President, Finance and Administration, the role he had with the previous Council. Congratulations and best of luck to our new Executive.
- Unknown (hopefully) to most of the people who visit the AUSU web site, we have switched servers that host our site and our e-mail. This seamless transition has increased
the capabilities of our site (see our new Discussion Forum and
Chat) as well as reduced costs to better serve AU students.
- AUSU Council members are the voice of the students on various university committees. This month, several important AU Committees convened with the student
representatives in the thick of discussions advocating for AU students.
- Prior to the election of the new AUSU Executive Committee, former AUSU President Debbie Jabbour had good news from the Athabasca University Academic
Council meeting on April 21st. AUAC is the body responsible for the academic affairs of Athabasca University. Students will have an additional representative on AUAC,
giving the student body two representatives, once new bylaws are written and approved by the Alberta provincial government.
- Another item that was brought up for further review at Academic Council was AU&8217;s policy to not let past performances at other educational institutions
affect admission to Athabasca University. This policy could theoretically allow students who had been expelled from another institution to enroll at Athabasca
University and could be detrimental to our reputation. This policy will be reviewed by Academic Council.
- Debbie Jabbour also attended the March 25 and 26th meeting of the Athabasca University Governing Council (AUGC), the governing body of AU which acts as the
Board, Senate, and General Faculties Council present at other Alberta universities. As with the AUAC, students will be gaining a second representative on AUGC.
Newly elected AUSU President Mac McInnis will hold one of these positions while the other position will be appointed by September 2004.
- At the Athabasca University Finance Committee, the body responsible for reviewing operating and financial decision of AU, a proposed 7.1% increase in tuition was
introduced for the next budget. AUSU has raised its objections to the Committee, as well as the AUGC and the AU Budget Advisory Committee, and had proposed
amendments to the budget to limit tuition increases. Unfortunately, these AUSU proposed amendments did not pass.
- The Voice Magazine continues to add more features to serve AU students. Several new columns and articles are finding their way into the pages of the Voice,
including a column focusing on maintaining and improving home PCs for the layperson and advanced alike, a column listing internship opportunities, and an updated
scholarships column. Many thanks to the students writing for the paper. There is always room for new writers. If you are interested in contributing to this great student
publication, contact Tamra Ross Low at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The AUSU Mentor Program now has its own web pages. To check them out, or if you are looking for a mentor, go to
http://www.ausu.org/services/mentors.php. Any questions can be directed to the Mentor Program Committee at
email@example.com or the AUSU office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- CAUS, the Council of Alberta University Students, in which AUSU is one of four members, held their changeover meeting recently at which time former AUSU
Vice-President, External Shirley Barg ended her successful one year term as Chair of the organization. Shirley was replaced with Alex Abboud, VP-External
for the University of Alberta Students’ Union, who will have a tough job filling her shoes.
- AUSU continues to follow up on student concerns related to receiving photocopied and/or used textbooks for their courses. These concerns have been brought to the
Athabasca University Budget Advisory Committee as well as to the attention of the VP Academic.
- New AUSU and Voice merchandise is on the way! The Voice is currently looking in to establishing its own small store for students to be able to purchase merchandise
online. If this proves to be successful, AUSU will also begin to offer this option to purchase and proudly display your AUSU merchandise. We hope to be able
to offer the option of purchasing this merchandise with credit cards and are currently researching the steps necessary to establish this system.
- Student Handbooks continue to be sent out at a constant rate. All new students registered at AU will receive their complimentary copy of the AUSU Student Handbook
in the mail shortly after registration. You’re a veteran to AU? Simply contact the AUSU office to receive your copy of the Handbook, or use the online form
Message from the President - April, 2004
I would like to extend a warm welcome to all new and continuing undergraduate students. My name is Mac McInnis, and I am the newly elected Athabasca University Students' Union (AUSU) President.
The AUSU is an organization that is designed with the needs of students in mind, and we offer many services. Feel free to check out some of these services by visiting our web site. The AUSU is your organization and I encourage you to get involved in student matters. I invite you to join us as a representative and provide a student voice to decisions that will involve you. Your education and university experience should be rewarding and I believe your personal involvement will contribute to positive experiences.
I would like to welcome your newly elected executive: Vice President, Teresa Neuman (email@example.com); Vice President Finance and Administration, Karl Low (firstname.lastname@example.org); and all the new council members who can be contacted through our website. Executive and staff members are here to help you with advice and assistance.
President’s Message - October, 2003
Here in Alberta we are enjoying a warm fall, with sunny days and summer-like temperatures. It's lovely,
but hard on schoolwork schedules - it's much easier to stay indoors studying when the weather is rainy and cool!
During these past few months, AUSU has been busy with several key initiatives and projects. One of these is
the Bill 43 campaign. For the first time, both provincial student organizations have joined forces on this issue - CAUS
(the Council of Alberta University Students, representing undergraduate students at the four Alberta universities) and
ACTISEC (Alberta College and Technical Institute Student Executive Council, representing 14 college and technical
schools). Politicians are being approached throughout the province to present student concerns with aspects of Bill
43. A publicity campaign has also been launched, entitled, ?deregulation nation? (check out the promotional poster at:
http://www.actisec.ca/). More information on the campaign, including information
on how you can get involved, is available on the website at: http://ed-dereg.su.ualberta.ca.
Within AUSU itself, several items of note are worthy of mention:
- We have added three new council members. Five interested students came forward in response to our call:
Shannon Maguire, Kingston, Ontario; Zil-E-Huma Lodhi, Pierrefonds, Quebec; Ryan Wagner, Edmonton, Alberta;
Stacey Steele, Redcliff, Alberta; and Teresa Neuman, Ottawa, Ontario. All of these students have been involved
as volunteers with AUSU in some capacity, and their contribution and interest in helping out is greatly
appreciated. Through a process of secret ballot, three spots on Council were filled at the September 18,
2003 Council meeting. The new council members are Ryan Wagner, Stacey Steele and Teresa Neuman.
- The hiring competition for a new Executive Director for the Edmonton AUSU office has closed. We have
had an excellent response, and the personnel committee is currently in the process of reviewing the
applications in preparation for short-listing and interviewing.
- Special General Meeting on October 15 to pass the final version of the bylaws. I?d encourage
all students to attend and vote on this very important matter.
- A new handbook/diary is being prepared for the 2004/05 calendar year. We are working in conjunction
with the university on this project. This will mark the very first time we embark on such a collaborative
venture and we are very excited about it. Not only are we sharing costs, we are taking advantage of the
opportunity to provide students with a wealth of important information from both the student union and the
- The proposed AUSU academic excellence scholarships have hit a snag. The criteria has proven to be far
too restrictive, and we have been working with the registrar?s office to determine a fair way to award
these scholarships. An announcement of the 2002/03 recipients should be forthcoming soon, and AUSU
will be re-vamping the criteria to better serve students in the years to come.
Several other ventures and improvements to the services we offer are in the works.
Student participation and interest has increased phenomenally over the last while, and we are
eagerly looking forward to serving students more efficiently in the days to come. Keep your
Debbie Jabbour, President
Athabasca University Students’ Union
President’s Message - August 12, 2003
On August 10, AUSU Council was pleased to have AU president Dr. Dominique Abrioux join
us at our meeting. Dominique spoke to us at length about AU’s request to Alberta Learning
to be exempt from the tuition fee policy, and then the floor was opened up for questions. With
his permission, the session was taped and will be available here shortly for students to listen
to what he had to say, along with a transcript and powerpoint presentation. I encourage students
to take the time to listen and read this information, and if you have any questions, please ask.
In the meeting agenda subsequent to Dominique’s presentation, a motion was
presented by S. Barg that Council approve the adoption of a draft policy statement regarding the
deregulation of tuition. In essence, the policy states that AUSU Council is not in agreement with
AU being removed from the Alberta government tuition fee policy. This motion was passed by a
majority vote of Council. The draft policy statement will be available soon on the website as
Although many in attendance conceded that Dominique had some valid points, the majority
felt that supporting AU’s request could have harmful implications on AUSU?s ability to lobby
Alberta Learning if students were faced with unreasonable tuition hikes at any time in the future.
The student voice was considered as well - although the website poll is not considered statistically
significant due to low numbers, most of those students who did respond were not in favour of
supporting AU in this matter. The overriding concern was that students would have some kind of
legislated protection from unpredictable tuition hikes and that an effective consultation process
with students needs to be in place.
AUSU Council would like to assure students that we will be continuing to advocate this
issue on their behalf, to ensure that your accessibility to post secondary education is protected.
Your feedback on the matter is extremely important and we greatly appreciate it!
Debbie Jabbour, President
Athabasca University Students’ Union
President’s Message - June 9, 2003
It’s almost here! In a few days hundreds of graduate and undergraduate students
at Athabasca University will be walking across the stage to receive the degrees they have
worked so hard to earn. I’m proud to be one of them, and I’d like to extend my personal
congratulations to my fellow graduates ? what an exciting weekend it will be!
AUSU is playing a part once again this year. To start things off we will be
serving a pancake breakfast from 7 AM to around 9:30 AM, featuring entertainment by the
McDades. During the next few hours after the breakfast, we will be greeting graduands
and their families, followed by an AUSU-sponsored luncheon. Once 1 PM arrives, the
formal ceremony begins as the graduates are led down the red carpet to the sounds of
bagpipes. It’s a thrilling moment indeed ? the culmination of years of hard work and
sacrifice are finally paying off!!
As in previous years, AUSU will be distributing a very special gift to each
graduate as they leave the stage. Last year’s mini-clock was a real hit with everyone
and we are sure graduates will appreciate this year’s gift as well. AUSU is also making
a special gift presentation to both Honorary Doctorate recipients, Dr. Robert Stollery
and Vicki Gabereau. We are eagerly looking forward to the weekend and hope to see you
For any undergraduates who are planning on continuing on into masters studies,
we are in the process of developing a Graduate Student Association. This is a very
important initiative, since graduate students are currently without proper
representation at AU. Not only do grad students need a united voice, there are many
Athabasca University Students’ Association services that graduate students are not
eligible for, and this is something we’d like to change.
In order to facilitate development of a grad student association, it is
important that grad students make their wishes known to AU’s Faculty of Graduate
Studies. If you are interested in learning more about this, or if you would like to
be involved in any way, please contact me at email@example.com. You can also start
participating in the new grad student forum.
In other news, we had a very successful 10th Anniversary AGM on May 24.
Thirteen students were in attendance for the meeting and were able to participate in
approving our new proposed bylaws. Any students interested in receiving a copy of the
2001-2002 Annual Report can contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org and have one sent out.
An electronic version in pdf will also be available shortly.
For some students summer means vacation time, but unlike traditional
universities, most AU students continue their studies all summer long. AUSU also
continues to work on behalf of students throughout the summer. We’ve finally managed
to get more or less settled in at the new Edmonton office location, although there are
still boxes waiting to be unpacked, and several new projects are in the works. The new
student packs are finally here and being sent out to the first 1000 students who
request one. A new handbook/planner will be printed for 2003-2004, and we are in the
process of coming up with a new design and format. CAUS (Council of Alberta University
Students) activities will also be keeping us busy throughout the summer, with new CAUS
chair and AUSU VP Shirley Barg leading the way. New website projects and pages are
also in process. So it will be a busy summer for all!
Finally, I’d like to issue an important invitation. Are you interested in
getting involved with AUSU Council? Any students who are interested in being part of
Council are invited to contact us to start getting involved. Elections will be coming
up next year, and the best way to find out if being on AUSU Council is right for you is
to spend some time volunteering on a committee now! New committees and projects are
underway - contact email@example.com to see how you can learn what being on AUSU Council is
Debbie Jabbour, President
Athabasca University Students’ Union
President’s message - April 14, 2003
We’ve had an extremely busy few months - so busy I’ve not had time to write a message! One of the
most important activities we’ve been involved in during the past while is the tuition/budget process, and
details on what is happening in that regard are provided in the Voice issues March 28, April 2, 9, 16.
There have also been some recent personnel changes on Council, with Council member T.
Ross Low leaving us to take a position as Voice Editor, and Secretary-Treasurer G. Dulai resigning to
pursue other interests. Long-time Chair of the AUSU Legislative Committee, Karl Low, was appointed
to Council in February 2003, and Sandra Moore has been appointed new Vice-President Finance.
We’ve also had a major office move, due to the Edmonton Learning Centre building being
sold. The new owners initially gave AU an eviction notice, and for a while we were in limbo - not
knowing exactly where we would end up. Fortunately the university managed to negotiate a lease,
and we can stay, but almost a third of the existing space has been lost. Most of the AU offices have
been forced to move and downsize, and our location on the 3rd floor of the Edmonton Learning
Centre officially moves downstairs to the 2nd floor as of April 15th. Our new space takes up a portion
of the old computer lab, and places us much closer to students since it is just around the corner from
the exam area and the main office. Although having to move is a nuisance, overall we believe it will
be a better location for us and the students we serve. Plus it has had another benefit - we?ve been
forced to do some major closet-cleaning!
Among important upcoming events is the special 10th Anniversary AGM on May 24, 2003.
Plans are still being finalized, and we hope to see as many students in attendance as possible.
Watch this space for updates and check out our AGM splash
page for the latest news on what is planned.
One very important matter that will be addressed at this AGM is final approval of our new proposed
bylaws - something that every AUSU member attending the AGM can vote on. Our intent was to
create a set of bylaws that are concise, clean and to the point; with the majority of detailed
governance issues to be dealt with through policy rather than bylaws. We?ve been working on this
project for quite some time, and managed to finalize them during our March council retreat. The
proposed bylaws are available for download on the AGM page of
our website so that students can become familiar with them and have an opportunity to provide
feedback before the AGM.
Convocation 2003 is coming up quickly too, and once again AUSU will be
sponsoring a pancake breakfast and lunch - we look forward to seeing you there.
AUSU has been actively involved in the Middle States Accreditation Self-Study
(MSCHE) process. This is a detailed, in-depth look at how our university functions, and
whether it is meeting its mandate and properly accommodating student needs. We are pleased
to be able to participate in this process. You can read more about the Self-Study in the last few
issues of the Voice. Middle States Accreditation representative, Dr. George Santiago, will be
visiting AU on April 25, and the MSCHE Committee has asked for student representatives who
would be willing to attend a meeting that day at the ELC from 2:30-3:30 MST. Teleconferencing
is also possible, so if anyone is interested in attending this meeting, please contact me at
firstname.lastname@example.org by April 20th.
Finally, expect your copy of the 2nd edition of the AUSU newsletter in your mailbox
soon. It is full of news, information of interest to AU students, chances to enter contests & win
prizes - and much more!
Debbie Jabbour, President
Athabasca University Students? Union
President’s message - January 31, 2003
On January 28, AUSU executive met with Dominique Abrioux, AU President, and Andy Woudstra,
Acting VP Finance. This meeting was so that the university could present their tuition proposal to the
students’ union (as they are required to do by law). They explained that the Government of Alberta is only
offering 2% increase in funding for 2003/04 to all four universities. AU must present a balanced budget to
Governing Council in March, and to do so, they are turning to tuition to raise sufficient funds.
Here is what is being proposed:
Increase to base tuition: 7.3% (maximum allowable to reach the cap is 7.5%). This will increase tuition
from $355 to $381.
Increase to extension fee and challenge exam fees: 7.3%
Materials will go from $131 to $150
Application fee rises from $50 to $60
Supplementary exam fee from $80 to $90
Transcript cost from $10 to $15
No increase in the out-of-province fee is proposed.
Add materials and other fees to base tuition and we
will be paying $541 total for each 3 credit course under the proposal.
AUSU is very concerned with the impact these proposed increases will have on accessibility of post
secondary education at Athabasca University. In the weeks to come we will be lobbying the government for
changes in the tuition policy and increased university funding. If you care about your education and want it to
remain accessible to all Canadians, then please add your voice. Watch for updates here on how and where
you can participate in forums, and please take the time to write and contact your MP, your MLA, and the
media. We need to work together to change attitudes ? not just those of the politicians, but of Canadians in
general. Post secondary education is a requirement, not a luxury. As taxpayers, we have a powerful voice.
Lets use it.
Debbie Jabbour, President
Athabasca University Students? Union
November 18, 2002
We are very pleased to welcome you to our new AUSU
After many months of hard work and planning, the website
is finally launched.
Although the Web Development Committee took the lead,
the website is the result of a collaborative effort amongst all
of Council. It was a long and sometimes arduous process that began
many months ago, very much like giving birth! We found the right
developer, nurtured and fed the content, performed regular test
check-ups, and made multiple decisions to ensure a quality end
product. The goal was a site that would meet student needs and
expectations, provide plenty of information, be easy to navigate,
and be visually attractive. Now that the finished product has
arrived, we look forward to seeing our creation continue to develop
Come in and take a look around, then let us know
what you think. We’ve added many new features to the site.
An option to make the font larger should make things easier for
those who have vision difficulties. We have monthly features,
tutor and student profiles, course evaluation surveys, student
bulletin boards, live chat, and a Convocation section - just to
mention a few. Some features are still in development, such the
online study buddy database. Many of the features and services
are restricted to AU students, so you will need to set up a student
account and log in to access these.
I’d like to thank the hard-working members
of the Web committee for getting this project off the ground,
and for being both patient and persistent in making sure we all
got bios, pictures and content ready in a timely manner: Mac McInnis
(committee chair); Tamra Ross Low; and Karie-Anne Getta. Thank
you to Tammy Moore, Voice editor, who provided wonderful graphics
and banners. Thanks to the rest of the Council team who provided
feedback, input, and site testing. A special thank you to Carole
Benner, who volunteered to be our very first tutor of the month.
I’d also like to congratulate Carole on recently receiving
a 25-year service award with AU!! Thank you to Kara Tersen, who
managed to interpret our needs so well and do such a professional
job of site development. And a big thank you to all our fellow
students who have been so patient and understanding while we rebuilt
Debbie Jabbour, President
Athabasca University Students’ Union
July 25, 2002
The discussion forum is back!!! Check it out
at: http://www.ausu.org/php-bin/bbs/login.php We look forward to
finally being able to communicate with our fellow students
on the discussion board.
The Voice made its debut on Wednesday, July 24.
We are very excited and pleased with the new look. If you
wish to be included on the new Voice mailing list, please
Let us know what you think - we are eagerly awaiting
Debbie Jabbour, President AUSU
July 13, 2002
Hope everyone is enjoying their summer - here
in Alberta we are having a heat wave!
No doubt you’ve noticed a few changes on the
website as we are finally moving forward. Along with some
visual improvements in layout, we are starting to restore
features such as the bylaws/policies and the job board (check
out the new CAUS job posting!). The discussion board is almost
ready to go, as is the new Voice in HTML format (watch for
it in the next week or so). The link to the Psychology Students’
Society page will be added shortly as well.
Along with website changes we felt it was time
to update the AUSU logo. The new logo was chosen after weeks
of discussion, and it was a highly collaborative venture.
Artist Tammy Moore submitted dozens of proposals and all of
Council played with design, font and colour choices until
we came up with something that the majority were satisfied
with. The logo is called "wired world", and we feel
that it is a strong, clean visual statement of what AUSU is
all about. We are very pleased with the results and look forward
to hearing your feedback.
Next Council meeting is scheduled for July 24
at 6:05 P.M. Any students interested in attending are welcome,
please contact email@example.com for info. At that meeting we
will be setting a tentative date for the Annual General meeting
- likely in September or October - we will keep you posted!
Debbie Jabbour, President AUSU