Last month, AUSU executives Julian Teterenko (Vice President External Affairs, or VPEX) and Scott Jacobsen (Vice President Finance and Administration, or VPFA) went to the annual Foundations Conference for the Canadian Alliance of Students’ Associations (CASA). The conference was hosted at the Four Points hotel in Gatineau, Quebec from May 22 to 26.
The conference is a comprehensive introduction to the organization for all new delegates, and helps delegates learn how to advocate on behalf of students. It prepares new CASA delegates to take the reins of the organization. Since CASA is a student-run organization, the most prepared students make for the best prepared organisation. These conferences are crucial to the success of the organization and making sure that post-secondary students in Canada are represented to the federal government. Furthermore, it is crucial for Athabasca University students to have representation at these conferences since we are in a unique situation among post-secondary institutions in Canada.
Some of the main outcomes of the conference were the election of the new Board of Directors and seats on various other CASA committees. We are pleased to announce that AUSU’s VPEX Julian Teterenko was elected the treasurer of CASA. In addition, AUSU’s VPFA Scott Jacobsen joined the national advocacy committee, trades and tech committee, and the member relations and internal review committee, and AUSU President Shawna Wasylyshyn joined the policy committee. Given that CASA represents over 20 universities in Canada, AU has an significant presence in the organization, which provides great representation for AU students.
During the conference, the primary topics discussed included the Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP), Abacus Data, World University Service Canada (WUSC), Education Research Policy Initiative (EPRI), MITACS, and Impact Public Affairs. These were a broad range of topics that took on things as diverse as student financial aid to copyright issues.
In addition, CASA set forth discussion and various exercises pertaining to issues on campuses in Canada. These prepared delegates of CASA for the 2017-2018 period.
At the end of the conference, our AUSU executives also participated in the First Nations blanket ceremony led by Algonquin Elder Barbara Hill. During the moving and interactive exercise, participants were presented with the history of the Indigenous experience in Canada and the related difficulties surrounding access to post-secondary education.
All in all, the conference was a productive and rewarding experience and will help ensure AUSU members have a voice at the national level.
Content provided by S. Jacobsen.