YOU DON’T WANT TO WIN $300?
There are just three weeks left to enter for the first Voice writing contest. Responses to the non-fiction category have been weak, which is surprising, since so many of you have opinions on how AU could be better run.
C’mon, how hard can it be? Just tell me, in 1500 words or less, what you would do as President of AU. Your chances of winning $300 are high, and I know you all could use that money to offset this year’s tuition increase. Besides, it’s great practice for that annual As Prime Minister contest that runs nationally and which has phenomenal prizes.
We’ve had some great submissions to the fiction category, but I think there are probably even more talented writers out there. If you wish to submit poetry, you can send one or two poems, as long as you come in under the word limit. Our judges can’t wait to read all of your entries.
What have you got to lose? Even if you don’t win the cash, you might qualify for a secondary prize:
NEW COLUMN: Did you kick yourself last Thursday night for missing the Survivor: Pearl Islands premiere? Do you wish there was some way that you could keep up to date on all of your favourite shows, even when you miss an episode here and there? If so, you’ll love Primetime Update, where Amanda Baldwin fills you in on all of the juicy details of the shows that you missed – including that much anticipated Survivor premiere!
UNLEARNING: Having nearly learned everything there is worth knowing, Bill Pollett prepares for the inevitable contraction of his mental universe:
DO YOU OWN YOUR BODY PARTS? Law student Wayne Benedict learns that you may have few rights over your physical substance, once it is separated from your living body. Are we prepared for the consequences of such a ruling?
FIVE GOOD REASONS TO QUIT SMOKING: Are you in the minority of Canadians who still smoke? Maybe you are just looking for a really good reason to quit. Check out the Five Reasons and find out what you have to look forward to.
I SURVIVED THE AUSU MARATHON:
I don’t have a whole lot to say this week, because I’m tired and a little cranky. Both may be the result of the inhumanly [inhumanely?] long and arduous AUSU council meeting that I attended last Thursday night, and which I have not prepared a report on, yet.
Council called to order at just after 5:30 pm and ended some time after 9:30, or closer to 9:45. I’m not sure. I think I collapsed when I finally got off the phone. My cordless ran out of battery power around 8:00, so I spent the final hour and a half bent over my office table listening in through my fax phone, with its cleverly short cord which prevents tangling and ensures vertebral fusing if used for more than half an hour. So after I put “new phone” on my shopping list, I pretty much went into a coma.
Four and a half to five hours is a long time to do anything, even those really fun things that I used to love to do for hours on end in my more acrobatic years, but which now also result in an aching back. Attending a council meeting is somewhat less fun than that, and the sore muscles are less pleasantly earned… This meeting, in particular, was very dismal in spots, but I’ll report more on that next week. Politics… ’nuff said.
On the flip side, council overall are a great bunch of folks and we always have a few laughs. They let me butt in and spout my opinions all the time too, which is real generous of them, considering how many opinions I have and the price of phone time. Council meetings are also generally very productive – hence the length.
Thursday was not without levity and there was also plenty of new blood. You see, this was the meeting AUSU designated to add new council members to its slowly decreasing ranks. Three slots were open, five students applied, and all attended the meeting to find out their fate. Hilariously, the Edmonton contingent, who are in control of the phone line and the teleconference pod, sat by at the three-hour mark as the recorded Telus notice announced that only 10 minutes remained in the booked phone time. They sat by again as the five-minute warning played. Exactly five minutes later the lines went dead and the meeting was brought to an abrupt end as about a dozen people across the country simultaneously shouted “hello??” into dead air.
I suppose each of the Edmonton members thought that someone else was going to take care of it. There is a psychological term for this, and if I wasn’t so worn out I’d surely I remember it. Diffusion of responsibility? Dispersion of Liability? Crap: I actually aced that course! The psych students know what I mean.
Of course what made it funny was that it has never happened before (that I know of), but since there were more than the usual number of observers and many attendees new to teleconferencing, it just had to happen on this particular night.
Fortunately, all but one of the attendees were able to find their way back once a new teleconference was booked, and council resumed some ten minutes later.
Very early in the meeting, the new councillors were added. In fact, it became the first order of business once the agenda was adjusted to accommodate a councillor who had to leave early. I have to question the logic of this. You see, once the new council members were selected, they immediately became active councillors capable of voting and having input into the meeting, with no briefing or period of acclimatization whatsoever.
Now I’m certain that all of the new council members are smart people and quick learners. Also, two of the three have attended a council meeting in the past and have served on an AUSU committee. Nevertheless, to expect members who had been on council for only minutes to be voting on council initiatives seems absurd, especially because these members didn’t even receive all of the documentation that other councillors had.
I will go on record as saying that I think this part of the process was handled very poorly, and that it was inappropriate to have brand new council members in a position of making decisions on initiatives that they had no background information on, working with a group that they had never worked with before. One of the new members hadn’t even met [even over the phone] most of the council. It would have made much more sense if the new council members had been selected either at the end of the meeting, or, given that the vote had to be held early, that their councillor status only become active at the end of the meeting.
I’m thankful that no extremely important votes were cast at this meeting, because surely the new council members, as they become more informed on council activities, will have many more questions, ideas, and insights that they can bring to the table, and they may have a very different view of the issues that they did on this first day. In defence of the new councillors, they did their best to ask questions and learn as they went along and everything ran quite smoothly.
The other thing that surprised me, is that council had not decided how many members they would add prior to the meeting, even though the number of new members coming in late in the term is as significant a question as who those new members would be. They could have added none, one, two, or three members. As it turns out, they filled all three positions, so council is once again working with its maximum nine members. Those who did not make it on to council this time will have their chance very soon, however. There will be an election around March, and candidates will be asked to indicate their intention to run in the next few weeks. Since the last two councils were chosen by acclamation, I think everyone is looking forward to a full election this year [which isn’t to say that the acclaimed council is any less effective than an elected one would have been, but it’s always nice to see democracy in action!]
Oddly, after many months of commenting that it is mostly Alberta students who are interested in council, and that AUSU should strive to obtain a more even representation across Canada wherever possible, council nevertheless chose to add two more Alberta members, both from municipalities that already have representatives. This is not to question the capabilities of those members, but I expected that with three applicants from outside Alberta, we would see a more nationally balanced council. Obviously, though, council weighed a number of factors when selecting the new members. Fortunately, AUSU now has one non-Alberta councillor. She lives in Ottawa and will surely bring a national perspective to council discussions.
Council has also completely foiled my plan to show that The Voice is a separate entity from AUSU. Two of the three new members are Voice writers, which brings the total up to 5 regular writers and 1 occasional writer who are on council! For some reason, AUSU seems to attract students with an affinity for writing! I suppose it’s fitting since most of the work is done through email.
All of the council members who write for the Voice are good writers, who submit a lot of material on a regular basis and The Voice is lucky to have them. Most university newspapers don’t even allow councillors to write for them, but we at AU have a good working relationship and this paper has benefited from that. I feel it is very important, however, that I make it clear to the readers that I am under no obligation to accept articles from anyone on council, nor do their submissions receive greater consideration than those from non-council members. If anything, I try to give greater consideration to new contributors, since they help increase the diversity of the paper. I currently have another fourteen regular writers who have no ties to council at all.
The Voice, by its very mandate, is the AU students’ paper – not the paper of AUSU. Yep, AUSU funds The Voice, but they also recognize the value of a students’ publication and I have to say that they are pretty good at letting this paper be just that. So, don’t be afraid to speak up and become a part of the AU student community! If you have an opinions or concerns about the relationship between The Voice and the students’ union, drop me a line. Ultimately it’s the students who fund the paper [AUSU decides how much of your money comes here] and who should benefit from it. I’ll be posting my Annual Reader Survey next week, and I hope to hear from as many of you as possible! Being an online paper makes it hard to know how many readers we have.
Oh, and The Voice will soon have merchandise available for sale, including mugs, some fabulous jackets, and a signature bookbag. Look for details coming soon. Survey respondents will be included in a draw to win some of these items.
I guess I did have a lot to say:
Tamra Ross Low
Editor in Chief
The Voice fiction feature has become popular, but submissions have been slow. Send us your best fiction today, and it might become our next feature.
ATTENTION BUDDING WRITERS
The Voice needs some new Voices! We know you have plenty to say, so why not get paid for it. Send us a writing sample or article for submission and you might be published in an upcoming issue. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it pays. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.