Election Platform for James Baird-Foley
My name is James Baird-Foley and I have offered my name for consideration for election to the Athabasca University Students’ Union for the 2002 election. I have been a student of Athabasca University since 1999 pursuing a Commerce Degree while serving full-time in the Canadian Armed Forces. I am married with three wonderful children. I am now in the second year of my degree that I hope to complete by the end of 2005. With the challenges that come from trying to complete my education while serving in the Military and at the same time trying to have a family life, I have come to understand and appreciate the opportunity that Athabasca University provides to me by being able to complete my education at a distance and outside the traditional University format (I have completed exams while at sea on deployments).
While pursuing my studies I have taken an interest in the workings of the AUSA and what benefit it could to me as a student. Upon further consideration I have come to the realization that if I want the AUSU to be a benefit to me I need to get involved. I feel that I could have something to offer to the rest of the Student body and the University as a whole. Some of the ways that I feel that I could serve the student body of Athabasca University are as follows:
1. The AUSU Council has the unique role of supporting the needs of a student population that is spread all over Canada and indeed the world. The Council needs to expand this role and raise the profile of the AUSU in the world of distance education.
2. Some steps have been taken to provide information to students through the use of “The Voice” and the AUSU Website on topics such as course reviews, and general knowledge. This role needs to be expanded. One of the major challenges facing students at Athabasca University is the feeling of isolation from other students of the University. While this feeling of isolation may never completely be alleviated, it is possible to provide a larger role in the area of student advocacy. When a student is having a problem with the University, their first point of contact should be the AUSU. In order for this advocacy role to be successful, the student would have to be aware that this help is available.
3. One way of providing information to students on issues that may affect them would be through a voluntary E-Mail mailing list that would allow the AUSU Council to provide information to the students directly on issue that may be important to them and pass on information on services that are offered from the AUSU.
4. Athabasca University is becoming a University that is well known on a National and International scale. It will be the job of the AUSA Council to protect the interests of students at a time that the University may move into the highly profitable area of “Education at a Price”. AU is one of the few Universities in Canada that offers such a wide variety of courses and programs at a distance. If elected to the Council, I see it as my job of to ensure that this access to education remains an affordable option to students.
I feel that I have something to offer the council in the areas of leadership and the strategic direction that council could take in the areas of support to students who are studying at a distance and help raise the profile of Athabasca University as a leader in providing a quality education to people who would not normally be able to complete a Degree in a traditional University environment. I hope that I will be given an opportunity to put some ideas into action as your member of Student Council.