AUSU Election 2002 – Campaign Platforms

Campaign Platform of Tamra Ross Low

Some of these letters are very long, but my reasons for wanting to be on council are very simple. I will be brief.

I will make few promises because I need to learn more about the AU student body and its needs before I can. Too few AU students are aware of the union and its programs, and I believe that the union is likewise only aware of the needs of those few students who have addressed the union in the past. Therefore, my first, and most important task as a union member will be to explore new ways of increasing the union profile and researching student needs. Once this is accomplished, I will work to launch new union programs to address these needs.

Why I will be a good councillor:
“¢ I am a full time AU student enrolled in a degree program. I have a lot invested in this school and I have a strong interest in helping the union better serve the student body. My commitment to AU is strong: I plan to continue with this school through a post-graduate degree.
“¢ Like many AU students, I returned to school after a long absence, and have had to overcome many hurdles to get my education on track. I understand the unique challenges facing distance education and adult students.
“¢ In addition to my home-studies, I work on a freelance basis, leaving me ample time to perform union duties.
“¢ Through my work as a Voice columnist and a member of the Academic Committee I have worked to improve communication between students and will continue to do so.

My priorities:
“¢ I believe that awareness of the student newspaper should be increased, both to reach a larger readership and to encourage new writers to become involved. The Voice is our best tool for improving student communication.
“¢ I believe that the union’s highest priority should be to learn more about AU students and how the union can best serve them.
“¢ Students put a lot of money in to the union, and as much as possible should be given back. The computer bursary program is an excellent program for students in need, but more can be done.

My commitment to AU:
“¢ I am in my third year at Athabasca. Previously I took high-school upgrading through distance education. I understand the challenges and benefits of distance education, and I have learned many strategies for success in this area.
“¢ Earlier this year I wrote an article for the Voice in which I discussed my feelings about the isolation of distance education students. Through the process of writing this piece, I learned the value of the paper in addressing these feelings. I committed myself then to be a weekly columnist – a position which I have held
since June, 2001.
“¢ Through my Voice column I have investigated critical issues affecting AU students such as the threat that AU may lose its funding status with the Student’s Finance Board (July 4, 2001), and the negative press distance education has received from some educators (November 7, 2001).
“¢ I am a member of the Academic Committee of the AUSU, which is working toward implementing informal discussion pages and student evaluations for all courses on the AUSU server.

I look forward to serving you,

Tamra Ross Low
tamra@gmx.net (feel free to write me with any questions).

Election Platform for Sandra Moore
Accessible & Accountable to You!

My name is Sandra Moore and I am running for a position in the upcoming Student Council Elections. I am a happily married mother of two, and I have sat on various school councils and committees as well as non-profit organization committees. I started at Athabasca University in June of this year working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Humanities.

I will not rattle off a list of false promises to entice you to vote for me, the only promise I will make is to act on your behalf and be easily accessible and accountable to you if elected. An elected member should be easily approachable without making you feel intimidated or nervous; as well they should also be assertive enough to stand up for your rights and beliefs.

I feel the students of Athabasca University should demand more of an involvement in the running of Student Council. Plebiscite votes on major issues should be a consideration of Council instead of causing mass internal conflict among themselves. I also firmly believe the minutes from the Student Council Meetings should be published in the Voice or even better, e-mailed to every student. We elect the Student Council to act on our behalf, keeping our ideals, beliefs and attitudes in mind, yet a vast majority of Athabasca students have no idea what they do or even where they meet. Possibly some student may not care, but I believe if the Student Council minutes were distributed to the students either through the Voice or through mass e-mail or snail mail, more students would be actively involved in speaking up because the information is more easily accessible. As an elected member of Student Council, you are an advocate for all the students of Athabasca University, and if elected that is exactly what I intend to be for you.

Election Platform of Darren L. Kereluk

Introduction
Before I go into what I propose to do if I was elected to Council, I want to offer you a bit of a warning. If you are seeking somebody that is pleasant, knowledgeable, levelheaded and likely to tell you everything that you want to hear 100% of the time, then I am most certainly not your type of candidate. I would respectfully encourage you to move on and consider one of the other fine candidates running in this election. I am not a professional politician, nor am I much of a “people person”. I make mistakes”?plenty of them, as I am sure that one of my detractors will surely point out to you. One of the things that I can say that I am proud of is my almost compulsive need to work for both ideas and people that I believe in, such as distance education and my fellow students at AU. DON’T GET ME WRONG, I am far from being perfect or successful at this, much like my ACCT 253 final, my “average” in this is roughly 43%, but my heart, such as it is, is in the right place. If you’ve read this far, I would like to thank you and encourage you to keep on reading. If what I have written bores you, or makes you so frustrated that you can’t read any more of it, I’d like to apologize for taking up your time. Frankly, I don’t like to listen to politicians, amateur (like me) or otherwise, so I wouldn’t blame you if you ran away screaming!

Core Concept
“Let he who is without sin throw the first stone” goes a phrase in the Bible. I must admit that I’ve thrown quite a number of stones in the past, a couple of which should have be thrown, but many of which should not have even been taken off of the ground. I’ve learned that being in this perpetual state of attack is not only unhealthy for me, but also for those with whom I have to work with, and for those who I am trying to help. Nothing is ever accomplished by being in a permanent state of war, nor by being incessantly insulting to people. My “core concept” for operating my campaign for election is that I will not engage in mudslinging of any kind no matter how many times I am accused of having pulled a “hissy fit”, as one former colleague used to term it, called inept, bumbling, or even some names that I cannot write down here (use your imagination and pick one!) because of the wholesome family nature of The Voice.

Me, and Why I am Running
My name is Darren Kereluk. I live in Kamsack, Saskatchewan, a community of some 2100 souls that is located approximately 300 kilometres north east of Regina, or 440 kilometres north west of Winnipeg. I’ve been an AU student since September 1998 taking a Bachelor of Administration in Health Administration. In terms of my experience in student government, I was on AUSU Council and Executive from March 2000-March 2001 as Vice President-Student Academics and Services. While I am happy with having raised the profile of the Students’ Union within AU Central, I am going to be brutally honest by saying that I was totally clueless about political intrigue and people skills, both of which had an adverse affect on the performance of my duties at the time. I have been on the Student Academic Appeals Committee since January 2000. I enjoy this work quite a lot because I get to have a direct and positive effect on people’s academic careers.

Why am I running? I’d be lying to you if I said that power and honoraria hadn’t crossed my mind. Well, they have, but I am not so delusional or corrupt as to view your Union dues as my own personal bank account. After all, it is the Athabasca University Students’ Union, not the Darren Kereluk Students’ Union. My duty, if elected, would be to see that YOUR interests are represented before the powers that be, not the other way around. I mean, if the Administration at AU wants to raise your tuition to the maximum allowable by law, I think that it is my responsibility, as well as that of my potential future colleagues, to try and see why such a measure is being considered, with a few to mitigating any ill effects of such an action. If doing such a thing means voting against a pet project of AU administration, or voting against a “proposed” budget, then so be it. My raison d’etre in mentioning all of this is that my reason for running far exceeds any consideration of money and power.

Promises, Promises and More Promises
One of the things that I’ve noticed about politicians in general is the fact that so very few of them operate with any great degree of consistency. People that are served by elected bodies need to know that if they are made certain promises by their representatives that these promises will be carried out in a manner that is consistent as possible. If there is some reason why a promised undertaking cannot be made, then the public (in AUSU’s case, the student membership) should be informed forthwith. My particular promise for this situation is to ensure that my fellow colleagues and I, as well as any other parties involved in a particular transaction, are all fully aware of the full legal, financial and moral implications of a promise before it is made at all. In other words, everybody has to be operating from the same playbook, with the understanding that if changes are to be made, that the people directly involved know what form a resolution of the problem will take. Additionally, the members of AUSU must be notified of major changes that are likely to affect them”?after all, as AUSU students, we all have a right to know. If elected, I want this concept of contingent consistency to be codified in a Policy, so that everybody involved knows what his or her rights are, and so that AUSU members can be kept fully informed of these changes as they happen.

There are some ongoing problems with the Bylaws of the AUSU. While some interesting and constructive changes have been to the version that is currently floating about, no mention has been made about direct election of the Executive, nor why there needs to be three Vice Presidents. Executive members in the current Council, with the exception of the President are “Acting” positions created by Council versus being legislatively sanctioned ones according to the Bylaws of 1996. If the 1996 ones that are to be followed, both for current operations and the 2002 elections, then the only people who legitimately could claim to have any legitimate claim to their positions as Executives are the President, Vice President (currently Vice President Academic) and the Secretary- Treasurer (currently operating as the Vice President of Finance and Administration). I have not come across anybody else that is on the Executive is there under the authority of any of the Bylaws of 1996. Such people are entitled, though, to any honoraria for extra duties that are authorized by a resolution of Council. These good people are not to blame for these problems, because the Bylaws which they (and earlier, I) were left with were a disaster. Bylaw revisions are very hard to do owing to the complexity of issues and number of people that are affected. Because of the rather dispersed nature of AUSU’s membership, more people need to get involved in order to bring about a proper semblance of legality and clarity to the Bylaws. I propose the establishment of a special Bylaw Committee of AUSU whose mandate shall be to solicit public input into Bylaw revisions, and then report to Council with their recommendations. Ideally, Council will have approved the revisions and any modifications to them by the beginning of June, with an Annual General Meeting of the membership to be held in mid July. The AUSU’s legal counsel would then do a final review of the draft 2002 Bylaws and forward them to Alberta Registries for approval before the end of summer. The problem is that the longer AUSU, Council and Executive gets bogged down in procedures, definitions and clarifications, the less time that they all have to get out and meet with as many of you as possible to find out what your concerns are. It’s very well and good to rely on the Voice and the AUSU website to provide day-to-day information and elicit your comments on it, but students occasionally need to see their representatives out amongst them in order to feel the pulse of student thoughts.

With regard to putting AU and AUSU in the hearts and mind of people within Premier Klein’s cabinet, this is something that has to be undertaken with the greatest dispatch, keeping in mind that this is not the sum total of the equation. The Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) is a nice touch in terms of basic representation of AU students to Alberta Learning, but should your funds be used to equally fund projects for which you do not receive equal benefit? This is something that I want the next Council to consider. Based on recent figures, less than half (47%) of AU’s undergraduate students currently live in Alberta, so the focus of the new AUSU Council needs to be increasing pressure on the governments in which the other 53% of the student population lives in order to ensure that AU’s funding base is much more broader than the Government of Alberta and student fees. The pressure is on student fees right now, as I am sure that you all will agree. If elected, I would like to see an external affairs committee established with representatives of the student body selected to lobby their governments on a day-today basis to help fund “their” students at AU. My “selling point” for AU would be is that it is much more cost efficient to “buy” the AU model than to build additional facilities
and pay the associated overhead costs for them. If other provinces begin to fund their students in a more direct manner, this would free some of the pressure on the already strained budgets of AU students. I would also like to see that all governments, including the one in Ottawa, modify their student aid programmes to reflect the 6-month contracts that are in place at AU in order to give our students a better chance to finish their coursework properly, without worrying about meeting a 4-month deadline. Keep in mind that AU students are rather unique in that they are often juggling careers, families and school responsibilities at the same time. When I explain the idea of computer multitasking to people, I always point to the average AU student as a “real life” example of this concept. This is a topic that I approached the University on in the past, and it is something that I would want to do the same in the future if I was elected. The last plank of my “basic election platform” is for AUSU to reach beyond Alberta’s borders to the rest of Canada to show our fellow students that their students’ union cares about them and wants to hear what they have to say. It is only logical to make some attempt at reaching out to out of province students, since they compose more than half of the student body. While I am not suggesting in the least that AUSU cease sponsoring social events in Edmonton and Calgary, it must begin to hold these types of events in places where there is a sizable AU student population. This does not mean, of course, that I am suggesting that Council hop on the plane and visit every last community in Canada. It does mean that when Council is holding a retreat, it should consider planning it for a place where there is a significant number of AU students, such as in Vancouver or Toronto. For example, it means that if I was elected, that I would need to get more involved in promoting AUSU within Saskatchewan. I travel a lot through the province as it is, so making time to meet with my fellow Saskatchewan AU students to discuss their University experience and their students’ union at no cost to the AUSU treasury for traveling, since I would have been making the trip regardless.

Conclusion
My dear friends (now I am really starting to sound like a politician!), I’ve done like many other politicians that have come before me, and probably after me, and wrote a lot but told you nothing. I am very imperfect. Like other politicians, I have glossed over most of the major issues that need to be discussed in the name of brevity. I am very imperfect. I will have my full platform available to discuss with you by the time that this article is published. If you have any questions for me, or wish to find out more what I am about, I welcome your emails at dlk_2002_ausu@yahoo.ca I am very imperfect. If you aren’t too wild for me as one of your representatives on AUSU Council, but would like to talk with me about my close personal friends Bipolar Disorder II (ultradian rapid cycling type) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (primarily inattentive type) please feel free to drop me a line about these subjects as well. By the way, keep in mind that I am very imperfect.

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