AUSU Council News 2002 – WINTER, FALL, SPRING & SUMMER EDITIONS

on behalf of AUSU

Winter Edition

News from the November 28, 2002 council meeting

AUSU met on November 28th, 2002, for a regularly scheduled council meeting. Items on the table for discussion included the post-secondary coalition to fight tuition increases and government under-funding (headed by CAUS), the CAUS media campaign to raise awareness about tuition increases, the development of an AUSU External Committee, and the status of the AUSU Handbook/Planner.

On November 17th, the Council of Alberta University Students [CAUS], through the initiative of University of Alberta SU, organized a provincial education coalition meeting. In attendance were leaders of provincial organizations that are stakeholders in the cause of fair tuition and adequate funding of post-secondary education in Alberta. Attendees were urged to support CAUS in their fight to maintain affordable university tuition for Alberta students.

A motion was introduced at the AUSU council meeting, to the effect that AUSU should “participate in the provincial education coalition to further our cause of not permitting distance education to be exempt from the tuition cap, and to aid in persuading the government to adequately fund all public post-secondary institutions in the province.”

The motion was passed, and we look forward to supporting CAUS in this important action.

A second motion asked that AUSU assist CAUS by contributing funds toward the CAUS media campaign to raise public awareness of the cost of post-secondary education and the critical under-funding of post-secondary education in Alberta. The media campaign has consisted of newspaper advertisements in the Edmonton Journal, the Edmonton Sun, the Lethbridge Herald, and various rural newspapers.

Some of the CAUS ads can be viewed at: http://tc.su.ualberta.ca/education/explanation.htm

To aid in raising public awareness, CAUS members hosted public forums at the University of Alberta and the University of Lethbridge. AUSU participated in both forums. The University of Calgary Students’ Union will host the third CAUS public tuition forum in March.

In support of the public awareness campaign, AUSU voted to contribute $1,000 toward the media costs. Additionally, to address the need for more AUSU involvement in external activities, such as the CAUS initiatives and programs to gain student discounts in various programs and activities, AUSU has developed the new External Committee.

Students are invited to volunteer for this important new committee, and anyone interested should contact committee chair, AUSU VP Shirley Barg, at sbarg@ausu.org. The purpose of the Committee is to plan and implement activities that relate to AUSUs external relationships for the betterment of Athabasca University students.

Finally, AUSU has decided not to produce a student handbook/planner this year. We apologize to those students who have asked for a planner already, but after long deliberation, we have determined that the current format of the planner is not effective, and that we can increase the usefulness of this item by redesigning it in a smaller format. The old handbook/planner, which has been produced for many years, was only moderately popular, and we feel that we may be able to provide students with other items that may be more useful. Current plans are to redesign the planner and offer it in an improved, compact format next year. Until then, an alternative student gift package is in the works. When items are available, it will be posted on the AUSU website and in the Voice.

In other news, membership on the AUSU forums continues to grow, students are beginning to fill out the new course surveys on the AUSU website, there has been increased interesting in forming AUSU student groups and clubs, and submissions to the Voice continue to rise. Overall we are experiencing greater interest and involvement from AU students, and hope to see this trend continue next year.

AUSU would like to wish a very Merry Christmas, all of our members, and we look forward to serving you in 2003!

FALL EDITION

AUSU met on the evening of September 16th for the last regular council meeting of the 2001/2002 fiscal year. Finances and our preliminary budget for the upcoming fiscal year were the main topics of discussion, and we laid the groundwork for some exciting new scholarships and student awards. Also under discussion was the possibility of selling AUSU promotional items in the future.

The most important topic of the evening was our upcoming AGM. For those who do not already know, the 2002 AGM will take place on September 28, 2002 at 1:00 PM MST, and all students are welcome. You may attend in person at the Edmonton AUSU offices, located at #306, 10030-107th Street, Edmonton, AB, or you may attend via teleconference from any location, worldwide. Call our office at 1-800-788-9041, extension 3413, or email ausu@ausu.org for more information. Please reserve your spot as soon as possible, so that we know how many attendees to plan for. We’d love to see you there.

Also on the table this week was a proposal for new scholarships and student awards, which was approved by all councillors. Information about these awards will be available on our website as soon as we hammer out the last of the fine details. The details will be posted on the AUSU Services page.

The fate of the AUSU Handbook/Planner is still up in the air. We want to be able to give students items that will be useful to them in their studies, but we need to be certain that the handbook is the best choice before we commit to having more printed. Student input so far has indicated that a smaller planner might be more useful, while other suggestions have included wall calendars, desk calendars, and other items. So far, however, we have had only a few responses to our survey, and we require more.

Please check out the AUSU discussion forums on our website and select the Handbook/Planner Survey topic to download the survey file or to comment in the open forum. Alternatively, you may mail your comments to dkereluk@ausu.org. We’d like to know what might be useful to you, what items you have received from other students’ unions that you have used and enjoyed, and if you have any opinions on the old format of the AUSU Handbook.

Speaking of student input, we are pleased to say that since the first issue of the AUSU newsletter started arriving in students’ mailboxes, we have had many entries for the contest, and a significant increase in Voice readers and users of the AUSU forums. For all of you who just checked out AUSU for the first time this month – welcome!

Finally, back to business matters, AUSU council has approved the proposed preliminary budget for the upcoming fiscal year, and we are very pleased to announce that our expenditures for the 2001/2002 fiscal year will remain within budget for that period.

Many new projects have been initiated since the new council took over in March, and we’re very excited about the coming year. Expect a summary of our work so far to appear in the Voice or on the AUSU website very soon.

SUMMER EDITION

July was an exciting month for AUSU. At long last the Voice Students’ Publication has a permanent home online. Our new site launched with the July 24th issue. The completion of the Voice website is a landmark event as we are now able to move on to an even larger project – the construction of the new AUSU home site. We realize that many of you have been frustrated with the changes that have occurred over the last several months, but you won’t have to wait much longer. We are planning to have the new site up and running by fall of this year, and it will feature everything you liked about the old site plus a lot more.

In the meantime, we have endeavoured to make the current website as useful as possible. To better serve you in the coming months, we have reintroduced message forums, and we hope you will find them valuable for making contact with other AU students. We have also included a section for course reviews, as many of you have told us that this was one of your favourite parts of the previous site. The new website will also feature improved course review pages, including online surveys and reviews for programs of study.

At the AUSU council meeting in July we discussed many other issues of interest to students. Scholarships and awards are under review, and while no final decisions have been reached yet, we are considering some new awards to the top grad each year.

The Groups and Clubs committee has finalized its operating policy and is looking forward to creating its own space on the new website. This committee is dedicated to helping AU students form links through clubs based on common interests. Among our goals is forging links with clubs at other universities to increase networking and to help new clubs get started at AU.

AUSU is also finalizing plans for this year’s Annual General Meeting, which is tentatively scheduled for September 28th. The date should be finalized by the next printing of the Voice, and will be included in the News and Events section. Students may attend at the AU offices in Edmonton, or via teleconference. Keep watching the Voice and the AUSU website for information on how to attend.

Another topic of discussion was volunteers. Some of you have generously offered to donate your time, but we have not been very good at taking you up on it! This is going to change. We are currently discussing projects that will make good use of volunteer hours and you should be hearing from us shortly. We really appreciate your offers of time and expertise, and we do need you!

Finally, an item of great concern to AUSU is the Alberta Government’s suggestion that they may start funding distance education students differently than students in traditional classes. We are keeping a very close eye on this situation, and have sent representatives to relevant meetings to ensure that your voice is heard. Look for more information in the Voice and on our website in the coming months.

SPRING EDITION
on behalf of AUSU

The last few months have been very busy for Council members. The new group of 9 councillors met for the first time on March 16, and a variety of projects have been ongoing since then. Some of the highlights of the last few months:

· New Council spent two days attending a board development workshop in April. It was an opportunity for the new members to get acquainted, begin building working relationships and to start planning for future AUSU projects

· At the April meeting, Council reviewed the honorarium structure. It was felt that previous honoraria rates were low and did not provide fair or adequate compensation for the expected workload. This was hampering productivity and participation, and creating hardship for Council members. Council decided to increase honoraria to bring them closer in line to what other comparable organizations receive for their work.

· Council members attended the International Conference on Distance Education and the International Symposium on Educational Conferencing. Several members of Council presented papers at these sessions that dealt with student issues and ways the student union can work to resolve these.

· Council took an active role in Convocation 2002. We provided a graduation gift of a small engraved clock to each graduate, and sponsored a pancake breakfast, lunch and tea (with AU). AUSU’s participation was greatly appreciated by the university and by the graduates and their families.

· AUSU worked with the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) to prepare presentations to key government officials regarding tuition concerns in meetings held during June and July.

· Council has been actively working on redevelopment of the website, including a new look for the Voice and a new logo.

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