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December Executive Blog – Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Initiatives!

December has been a busy month for the AUSU executive team, bringing some noticeable changes. One of these has been our former VPEX Stacey Hutchings’ shift to the role of AUSU President, as well as my election as your new VP External and Student Affairs (VPEX).

Although I have only stepped into this role at the very end of November, our executive team has adjusted quickly and immediately continued with this year’s plan to roll out various initiatives.

One of the first of these initiatives has been AUSU’s 2SLGBTQIA+ Discord server, set to launch mid-December. Stacey’s initial idea for community supports earlier this year spurred a working group of council, staff, and members-at-large, who have been working diligently behind the scenes for the past few months. This is a very personal project for me, and I am so excited to move forward and create a safe and inclusive space for the community, as well as friends and allies. This is only the beginning. We have some big plans in the works, so stay tuned.

The executive team has also been hard at work planning our next initiative, namely Stacey’s virtual food assistance program. It will be a pilot program to help address food insecurity issues faced by AU students, undoubtedly exacerbated by this year’s pandemic. Future plans also include sexual and gender-based violence resources for the AUSU community, as well as our continued AUSU Nights.

As mentioned in Stacey’s previous Executive blog, advocacy work on a provincial and federal level continues, with AUSU’s voice now represented at the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS). We strive to promote the diverse needs of our members, with a focus on accessibility and affordability. We will continue to prioritize digital infrastructures, and address the unique financial needs of our students, including chronic underfunding and funding inequalities.

Finally, Executive has been hard at work at various Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives, including an upcoming committee, which will include members-at-large, as well as further plans for supporting Indigenous students.

On a personal note, I am excited to announce that I am continuing to collaborate with Vice President Finance and Administration (VPFA) Monique Durette on her plans to create supports for students with disabilities. This is a very personal initiative for myself, and I am thrilled to be able to continue this work in my new role.

In many ways, 2020 has revealed historical injustices that continue to present day, and applying an EDI lens to future policy and initiatives is something we consider crucial. We will move forward as an organization that values equity, inclusion, and proper representation of our members.

As always, we welcome your input.

Until next time,

Natalia Iwanek
VP External and Student Affairs (VPEX)

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