Natasha Donahue

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Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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  • Natasha Donahue
    Participant

    Thanks for this question!

    In my experience, AU is normally very interested in hearing what students want and trying to work toward a solution or pathway to make that a reality. With that being said, there are times where these things don’t jive.

    I think AU will be interested in hearing how they can better provide career services, mental health supports, mentorship opportunities, ways to build student community, thoughts around courses and programs, the learning environment/campus, and many others. I think for the most part AU is willing to collaborate and work toward finding ways to achieve what students want in ways that fit into the IT infrastructure and within their resources. As AU starts moving toward their new Integrated Learning Environment in the coming years, we will have ample opportunity as student council to determine what students are looking for and impart the student voice on the structure of this environment.

    In my experience on council, I have seen that AU has had challenges delivering on all student asks, even if there is a commitment to it, so this should also be considered. One recent example is the request for a bookstore so students can choose between hardcopy texts and e-texts. Although this was a commitment to students, AU had to pull out of the project. While we continue to advocate for innovative approaches to this issue, this is but one example of something AU may not be willing to move on, at least in the form of a bookstore.

    Natasha Donahue
    Participant

    Thank you for this question!

    I have had the privilege over the past year to help work on the AUSU Open Mic podcast along with our staff and councillors. It’s been an incredible learning experience and I am so proud that other students’ unions across Canada are now coming to AUSU to ask how we did it so they can start their own shows. It’s been great to have an inside look at what goes into these episodes, and through this time I’ve been able to help write interview questions, coordinate with guests to appear on the show, and brainstorm topics for the show, as well as report back to council on progress. I just happened to have finished compiling a list of topics for the show a few days ago so we can continue creating solid content.

    Some of the ideas I have are: grad studies and/or research at AU, perspectives from students with disabilities, getting involved as a leader in our student community, pride month and the 2SLGBTQA+ community at AU, meeting our new mental health coordinator and her vision for mental health services at AU, the importance of academic integrity and how to avoid plagiarism, and so much more.

    I am really looking forward to seeing what other topics people would like to see developed into episodes since we have such a diverse set of perspectives among all the candidates!

    in reply to: Indigenous Issues and Truth and Reconcilliation #193927
    Natasha Donahue
    Participant

    Thank you for this question, Darcie.

    I am also MĂ©tis and Indigenous issues are so close to my heart. There are a number of angles I believe AUSU can take to implement the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) calls to action as well as the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) articles, which Canada is a signatory on and which will most likely be presented as a government bill at the federal level for official adoption by the Government of Canada.

    I believe that Indigenous people should be part of decision-making bodies, but also in executory roles. Indigenous students should be able to have their own space that they create in order to address the unique needs of a population which has suffered under colonization for 500 years. We need an Indigenous student advisory role or suite of roles to encourage a sense of community and self-governance within the AU environment.

    As an organization, AUSU can also incorporate Indigenous governance structures into daily operations, and these governance systems can be adopted by the organization as well. We can also work toward a decolonized work environment overall, where individuals as well as the organization as a whole must reflect on what that means to them specifically.

    Indigenous scholarships, awards, and bursaries are another avenue to approach this issue. Financial barriers, while not the only barrier to post-secondary, can be a huge deterrent for Indigenous Peoples to enter into the world of higher education. Aside from the financial burden, these spaces are also quite often very colonial and lack cultural relevance, so AUSU should also continue to push the institution to do better and to take on their Indigenization strategy in a holistic, respectful, and sustainable way. This should include the voices of Indigenous students.

    At the federal level, which is where so much of the responsibility of reconciliation lays, we can continue to push the government to acknowledge and make movement on Indigenous issues as they relate to post-secondary. AUSU has proudly been able to send myself as an Indigenous representative to sit on the Indigenous Student Advisory Committee, which we formed within the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) over the ’19/20 academic year, which has directly influenced CASA to bring forward the topic of UNDRIP during our annual Advocacy Week. We must build a sustainable pathway for AUSU to continue to bring our Indigenous students’ voices to the federal level.

    There is so much more to this issue than what I’ve written here, but this topic requires frank and open conversation and education. I was able to draft an AUSU position policy discussing Indigenous student needs and how we can help to support these students, such as through culture shifts created by mandatory Indigenous studies courses, but this is just the beginning of a journey we must all embark on together.

    Natasha Donahue
    Participant

    Thanks Darcie! 🙂

    I think my answer to this question would be: cross-Canada student socials! I think it would be so fun and exciting if councillors from AUSU could trek across Canada, including the territories which are so often overlooked, and meet students from all over the nation. It would be so much fun, but it would also provide us with an opportunity to come into others’ communities and learn from them, hear their stories, and understand their perspectives. I have done a lot of outreach work in my past and have had the privilege to travel around Canada on AUSU business, and the depth of understanding you take on when you are inside the community itself is so important in order to adequately understand the issues you are discussing. Aside from this, it would also help build up our student community and create momentum to carry that work into the future.

    in reply to: What interested you the most about running for AUSU student council? #193908
    Natasha Donahue
    Participant

    Thank you for this question!

    For me, I am very passionate about the future of Athabasca University in a holistic way, and I want to have the opportunity to continue the work I’ve been doing over the past two years.

    There are a number of areas of importance that AUSU will need to continue focusing on, and a number of areas to explore as well. I want to see our projects concerning student services, student community (both virtual and in-person community), mentorship, provincial advocacy, federal advocacy, policy work, administration and governance, and advocacy to the institution succeed with the guidance of a strong and passionate team.

    We have been able to build so many wonderful relationships between our organization and government, university stakeholders, student unions and organizations, and external stakeholders. Relationship-building is so important to me and I am excited to see where these relationships will take us and how they will help benefit our students. We have become a strong leader and role-model in terms of federal and provincial student organizations, and having the opportunity to continue in this capacity reflects well on our organization.

    We’ve been approached by multiple organizations for advice and collaboration, and I would be so excited to continue working on innovations and advocacy efforts that put AUSU at the forefront of the student movement in order to continue opening doors to new and exciting opportunities. I would consider it an absolute privilege and I would be so excited to be one of the leaders at the AUSU team helping to drive this momentum forward.

    in reply to: What if there was a new AUSU scholarship? #193905
    Natasha Donahue
    Participant

    Hey Darcie! Thanks for this question.

    I believe we could benefit from a bursary for students with disabilities. I think it could cover learning disabilities as well as physical disabilities. To qualify, I think students could identify their disability and how it has impacted their educational journey. Completion of three credits at AU would be sufficient to me, and the amount could be anywhere from $500-$1000. I think this could be a semi-annual award and we could have 4-6 total available.

    I think this award could help encourage students who traditionally experience barriers to accessing post-secondary due to intersections in their lives dealing with disabilities and other identities to continue to pursue post-secondary, and also serve as a way to gain perspective into some of these struggles for those on the awards committee who do not have these experiences.

    Natasha Donahue
    Participant

    Thank you for this question!

    In my opinion, the most important change at Athabasca University to make is better progress toward reconciliation within the institution, and the creation of programs that help access issues for Indigenous peoples. I firmly believe that we must create equity within post-secondary education for Indigenous Peoples in Canada in order to move forward successfully with all other aspects of Athabasca University. This issue exists within our society at large and has created many barriers to access that we all must work together to remedy. If we cannot do this, we are leaving these students behind and failing to role-model reconciliatory behaviour for other institutions and organizations.

    Natasha Donahue
    Participant

    Hey Deedee! Thank you for this question.

    I believe the 7% tuition increase will be extremely important to follow. We must hold the institution accountable, specifically surrounding the conversation at the board of governors regarding the reasoning behind this increase.

    I do believe, however, that there are other issues that deserve a similar level of focus. Ensuring tuition at AU will fuel student services is another big one to me. We need more access to mental health services, services for students with disabilities, indigenous student representation, and career services, among others.

    Advocating to the provincial and federal governments as well as the institution is going to be one way to address these issues, but I believe AUSU can continue to be a leader by carving out pathways to some of these goals as an organization as well.

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