Exec Blog: August 2015

What is AUSU doing for you?

As a member of AUSU, you probably have been hearing a lot about our upcoming new services, our by-election, and changes to our staff.

Does it ever leave you asking, what is AUSU doing for you? We have been working hard over the summer to ensure that the needs, concerns, and opinions of our members are heard. We have represented you on AU hiring committees, stakeholder consultations and the AU Board of Governors.

Advocacy is right at the heart of a Students’ Union and as an AUSU executive, it is my responsibility to ensure that the voices of our members are heard at the University, provincial and national level. Policy and decision makers are hearing from lobby groups that influence their decisions every day, and we need to be participating. In the past, AUSU has not played a large role in furthering the needs of our members in all of these arenas.

Last week, I was in Ottawa where AUSU was unanimously voted into the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. Last year, CASA had over 150 meetings with MP’s from across Canada. At these meetings, they highlight the key changes that students need in order to improve access to post-secondary education and funding. At long last, AUSU will have a seat at the table that decides on the topics that are brought to our nation’s policy makers. I will be participating on the Federal Policy and Code of Conduct Committees at CASA, and making sure that the unique needs of AU students are represented.

However, it doesn’t stop there. I have secured a meeting with a Representative from the Alberta Ministry of Education in the month of September, where we will discuss the nature of student unions in Alberta and the role which they play. Advocacy at the provincial level is something that I would like to see AUSU be much more involved in. There are some very active and successful student lobby groups in Alberta and they are making inroads with the Alberta Government. In my opinion, AUSU is missing out by not participating in provincial lobbying. I am looking forward to exploring this more in the upcoming months.

AUSU has a great working relationship with many individuals at Athabasca University. We are increasingly invited to share our thoughts or opinions on initiatives at AU. In the month of September, I am looking forward to introducing our new Executive team to Dr. Peter McKinnon (AU interim President), Dr. Cindy Ives (VP Aademic), Dr, Alain May (VP Student & Academic Services), Estelle Lo (AU VP Finance & Admin), Donna Romyn (VP Research); as well as the Deans of each faculty. These meetings with key individuals at AU will give us an opportunity to ask questions about the impact of changes to tuition fees for in province vs out of province students, AU sustainability, etext and the learning resource fee just to name a few.

All of this representation wouldn’t be possible without AUSU councillors and executives. And this weekend, you will have an opportunity to elect 6 councillors in our 2015 by-election. Please, make your voice heard and take the time to vote. You have a say in who leads AUSU! It only takes a few minutes to cast your ballot, and the choices you make will have a lasting effect on how you are represented.

Shawna Wasylyshyn
AUSU President