Your 2021 By-Election is Here!

The nomination period is closed and it’s time to meet your candidates! The following AU students are eager to get involved, gain experience, and represent fellow learners as part of an amazing team!

AUSU student councillors represent AU undergrads and advocate on their behalf. They also guide your students’ union in providing services and support for AU students and contribute to creating a vibrant online student community. 

Now that the candidates are set, your chance to vote by email will arrive in your inbox on June 24th with voting open until June 28th at 11:59 pm MT.

Meet Your Candidates

Leah Campbell

My name is Leah Campbell and I am campaigning from Brandon, Manitoba on Treaty 2 Territory, the traditional homelands of the Dakota, Anishinabek, Oji-Cree, Cree, Dene, and Metis people.

I have been an administrative professional for the past seventeen years, including a decade at the Brandon Police Service as a civilian specialist in the court services section and am now at an accounting firm. I am working towards my four-year Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology with a minor in psychology and am excited for an opportunity to give back to the student body that has played a crucial role throughout the last four years of my life.

I am passionate about enacting change, advocating for those who need a voice, and gaining invaluable experience whenever I can. I believe in leading by example, acting with integrity, and being accountable to those I represent. It would be my absolute honour to represent the Athabasca University student body as a member of the student council.

Meredith Charlton

My name is Meredith Charlton and I am campaigning from Hamilton, Ontario on Between the Lakes Treaty 3 Territory.

I was born and raised in Hamilton. Throughout the winter, I spend my time playing women’s hockey and skiing, and during the warmer months, I try to get out on as many hikes and camping trips as possible. I decided to accept my undergraduate offer at Athabasca University because online learning was appealing to me. My goal after I graduate is to attend medical school where I can pursue a career in Psychiatrics. While working towards my undergraduate, I’m also employed at a substance abuse and addiction clinic.

Working alongside a diverse set of individuals has brought so much perspective to my life. I’ve always been an advocate for promoting mental health and wellness, but now I consider it to be my passion. I aim to be very involved in the Athabasca student community and would love to represent the student body. My goal is for students to have a memorable time at university, and I am eager to positively contribute to the student experience.

Marley Curtis

My name is Marley Curtis and I am entering my 3rd year as a Political Science student at AU. I am a chocolate, chicken wings, and coffee lover, and an all-around political junkie. In high school, I attended Encounters with Canada: International Affairs where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered a speech on diplomacy and community involvement. Later, I joined the Youth Parliament of Alberta where I was elected Deputy Minister of Social Action, then Deputy Minister of Recruitment in the following year. In January 2021 I was re-elected as President of my local Electoral District Association, where I and a small executive team lend support to our MLA.

My friends would say I like arguing and my colleagues would say I excel at teamwork. Both are true. When I spot problems, I can’t help but do what it takes to fix them. When I noticed a lack of quality communication between AU and students over the past year, I knew I had to be part of the solution. As an AUSU council member, I will fight for stronger communication standards.

Amy Mayer

My name is Amy Mayer and I acknowledge that I am settled on the land which is the traditional territory of Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee Peoples, specifically the Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawk).

I am a second-degree student enrolled in a BA sociology. Previously, from the University of Western Ontario, I obtained a BA in Music and a diploma in Arts Management. My goal is to upgrade my degree to gain entry to a Master of Library and Information Science program. 

Currently, while pursuing my BA, I work multiple part-time jobs. I am employed at the local public library, play the piano at two churches, and assist with our family-owned pizzeria. Before covid, I had a small piano studio where I taught music privately.   

I believe in strong communities, which I have fostered through various volunteer opportunities. I became involved in a Steering Committee with the Ontario Library Association, and I sit on two boards at my church. 

When I’m not studying or working, I love to read, craft (knit, rug hook, cross-stitch), create DIY projects (soap and candle making), hike, and play board games. 

I’m interested in becoming more involved with the Athabasca community to connect with fellow learners and share my enthusiasm for our unique learning environment. 

Deidra Mahabal

My name is Deidra, and I am campaigning from Edmonton on Treaty 6 territory, a traditional gathering place, travelling route and home for many Indigenous Peoples including the Nehiyawak/Cree, Tsuut’ina, Niitsitapi/Blackfoot, Métis, Nakota Sioux, Haudenosaunee/Iroquois, Dene Suliné, Anishinaabe/Ojibway/Saulteaux, and the Inuk/Inuit. 

I am privileged to have the opportunity to run in the 2021 by-election. I am currently working towards a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a Major in Psychology with the intent to graduate Winter of 2022. In 2017, I desperately needed a career change and discovered Athabasca University through a previous AU student. I enrolled and, within a few weeks into the first term, became passionate about learning, something that I was endlessly searching for.  

Previous to starting my journey with AU, I earned a Paralegal Diploma and worked as a Paralegal. Working with various law firms, I mostly enjoyed working together as a team on projects and developing leadership skills.  

During my spare time, I enjoy practising penmanship, outdoor living and travelling. I have travelled to countries in Europe, the U.S., Cuba, The Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Guyana. Recently, I have discovered how fun it is to have a bucket list and I encourage everyone to have one because it has helped me with personal growth.

Cassandra MacKay

My name is Cassandra MacKay and I have always been interested in politics. Family photo albums show a 4-year-old Cassandra smiling, holding federal election flyers, while my elementary school teachers have plenty of memories of debating politics with me in the classroom, on the playground, and even after school waiting for the bus. I was eagerly anticipating high school student government, however, a medically induced poor attendance record stopped those dreams in their tracks. As you can guess, I’m beyond excited for this opportunity!

Some issues I hope to address if elected are: the continuing tuition increases, the ongoing struggles students are facing writing exams, and making communication between students and tutors easier.

As a person with several disabilities and medical conditions, I understand the toll university studies can take, even on those of you who are healthy. I want you to know, whether I’m elected or not (although I hope I am), that I am here for you and am always available to cheer on my fellow students, provide advice, or just listen. 

Dur-E-Najaf Syed

My name is Dur-E-Najaf Syed and I am campaigning on Treaty 8 Territory, the traditional lands of the Cree and Dene, the unceded territory of the Métis, and an ancient gathering place to Indigenous peoples for thousands of years.

This is my second year as a full-time student enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Political Science program. If I am not busy studying, you can catch me tutoring math and sciences, reading, or hiking! Previously, I have served as the head and a member of several other local committees and councils. I am very passionate about student advocacy and believe that students should always use their voices for change. My campaign runs on two fundamental pillars: accessibility and innovation. If elected I would like to make Athabasca University more accessible and easier to use for the student body. Many courses tend to have outdated course material as well as resources that are simply no longer accessible. Continually, I believe that students should get more say in whom their instructors and tutors are, similar to that of other institutions.

Eva Notter

My name is Eva Notter (she/her) and I am campaigning on Treaty 6 Territory. The Heritage Mile celebrates these sacred lands known as Amiskwaciy (Cree for “The Beaver Hills”). For tens of thousands of years, Indigenous peoples have lived and thrived in this place including the Blackfoot (Niitsitapi), Gros Ventres (A’aninin), Cree (Nehiywak), Saulteaux (Anishinaabe), Dene, Nakota Sioux and later the Métis.

I would like to introduce myself and ask for your consideration in the 2021 AUSU by-election. I have been a student at AU for just over a year, returning from a ten year “break” in my university studies with a renewed passion and the knowledge and skills these years have given me. My first time through university, not only did I not have a clue what was going on, but I had no idea how to figure it out, or how to seek out resources. Through time and life experience, I have worked to develop these skills into something I feel could be beneficial while advocating for our student body. I also hope to improve and gain experience in new avenues and continue to increase my knowledge. My goal is to perform in a council position to the absolute best of my ability, enacting change to improve the AU experience for as many people as possible, with particular focus on the rising tuition costs and online learning experience.

Joel Palyga

My name is Joel Palyga and I am campaigning from the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Îyâxe Nakoda Nations, and the Métis Nation (Region 3). 

I am running to be one of your representatives on the AUSU Student Council. First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to engage and participate in this crucial process for post-secondary student advocacy! 

I have been a student at Athabasca University since 2019. I obtained a Certificate in Public Administration this past year and immediately began pursuing a BA in Political Science with a minor in philosophy. When I am away from my studies, I work in the public sector. When I need a break from both my studies and work, I like to head out to the mountains and recharge with some fresh alpine air. I am fortunate to have a lifetime hiking partner, proudly calling myself her husband after we married this past year.  

I am extremely grateful for the AU community and want to give back by supporting all of you, the students who foster a tremendous culture for learning. I will bring a passionate and balanced voice to the council to advocate for the future of the AUSU community.

Jesse Poriz

My name is Jesse Poriz and I am currently working on a degree in Commerce. In my free time, I enjoy reading and spending time outdoors with my wife and five young children.

I have lived in Lethbridge for 15 years and have served the community by volunteering at Streets Alive, the Chinook Regional Hospital, the Epidemic Youth Program, and the Lethbridge Little League Organization.

I am a recent graduate from Lethbridge College and was elected by the student council to represent the students on the Board of Governors. I was also appointed to the Finance Audit and Risk committee by the Board of Governors chairman where I served until my graduation in 2020.

I feel that AU needs more leniency and financial supports for students affected by the pandemic and do not think an increase in tuition should be implemented at this time. I believe my experiences and point of view are valuable and will add a unique perspective. I would be honored to be elected to the AUSU student council.

Thank you for your consideration!

Tia Shank-Pederson

My name is Tia Shank-Pederson and I am a full-time student here at AU about to complete the first year of my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. I also manage an apartment building I lived in for the past 3 years, which has been a great learning experience for me at 23 years young. My favorite things to do include daily yoga practice, playing with my puppy Lily, being with family, paddle boarding and spending time in nature. Once I achieve my degree, my goal is to get a Masters in Counselling Psychology, then my doctorate and one day open my own practice. I have a passion for helping to create positive changes in my life as well as the lives of others which is what has fueled my desire to achieve my degree as well as push me out of my comfort zone to run for council. I am so grateful to be presented with this wonderful learning opportunity and believe that my passionate nature will help me to be a great representative for our student body!

Ray Spencer

My name is Ray Spencer and I have been a student member of Athabasca University since 1989. I originally started out in the Public Administration program, which was related to my employment. In 2009 I switched programs to Human Resources and Labour Relations. One HR course and I was hooked with the Human Resources bug. I completed the Certificate in Human Resources and Labour Relations in April 2011 and am now working on the degree on a part-time basis. I am now retired but am still interested in the Human Resources field.

Being an older student, I believe I bring a lot to the table in terms of work experience and various life experiences. I have also taken courses at different institutions, so I am aware of study anxiety with essays, quizzes, exams and now Proctor. I am quite willing to lend my experience in representing the needs of the AUSU membership.

Why Your Vote Matters

AUSU council guides and directs your students’ union in providing services, support, and advocacy for AU students and contributes to creating a vibrant online student community. 

AUSU is tackling many important topics throughout the next two years, including:

  • a tuition increase of 7% for 20-21, with potential 7% increases for 2 more years
  • impacts of COVID-19 on AU studies
  • a new AU Virtual Learning Environment with major online infrastructure changes
  • support and advocacy for marginalized and underrepresented students
  • service standards and timelines at AU
  • relevance and competitiveness of distance education

Council meets with AU administration and government officials, influencing decisions being made on these important topics. The students you elect decide what priorities AUSU focuses on.  

Your AU. Your vote. Your experience.

How does a by-election work?

Candidates campaign to the membership and include candidate biographies on the AUSU website. Candidates may utilize the AU Student Mobile App, AUSU Forum, and social media. The AUSU elections webpage provides updated campaign and candidate information, and regular updates will be circulated by social media and newsletter.

Voting is done by electronic ballot which circulates to all AUSU members via your email inbox. Stay tuned after the final voting date for full election results that will be posted to all AUSU channels.

The complete election rules are outlined in AUSU Policy 3.01: Election Conduct.


Find more info on AUSU elections and procedures, check out policy 3.01.

To learn more about councillor roles, responsibilities, and benefits, check out policy 2.14.

For any other questions on AUSU elections, contact [email protected].

Previous Election Results

2020 By-Election

2020 General Election

2018 General Election

2016 By-Election

2016 General Election

2015 By-Election