We love to hear from you! Send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, and please indicate if we may publish your letter in the Voice.
[ed. The following letter was posted in the AUSU forums, concurrent with being submitted to The Voice, and prior to publication. Publishing a letter that has already been printed and publicly discussed is redundant and I realize that Voice quality is not maintained by reprinting dated forums posts. I was unaware that the letter was in circulation until the eve of publication, despite the fact that most of the questions within are addressed to me.
Some of these items are also far in excess of letter length limits as they are taken verbatim from the forums posts. I have chosen to print these items, rather than refer readers to the forums, to counter comments suggesting that AUSU might be attempting to censor negative feedback. I’d like to make it clear that this is not the case. The Voice letter lengths have been set because readers have indicated a preference for concise comments. Feel free to contact me if you feel otherwise.
As always, The Voice welcomes your questions, comments and suggestions on all topics. I am extending the suggested length limit to 400 words. Articles on all topics are also considered].
I’m flattered that you chose to include yet another story on the reasons why I quit in this week’s edition of the Voice; you’ve given it a lot of coverage. Yet, you’ve never ASKED me why I quit; you just guessed and passed that guess on to the Voice readers (December 17th). I QUIT BECAUSE I WAS TIRED OF ALL THE CRAP! I joined council to help students, and due to a personal vendetta a certain council member had with me for questioning their spending and their actions this was no longer going to be possible. I also felt I could do more to help students, and councilors, on this side of the fence, as a non-councilor. Nothing was getting done but “picking sides”. Why I left council should be crystal clear by now to you, to Council and to the students.
Now on to a “real” important issue, I wonder why the issue of the President’s reprimand from the November meeting did not get any coverage in the Voice? In fact you did not report on the November meeting at all, that’s odd! It’s your job to tell us students what’s going on. According to Ms. Maguire’s article last week:
Tamra Ross Low, the editor of the Voice, is also attempting to ensure that students know what is going on in the Student Council. So far she has been keeping us informed of major events in her editorials.
I assumed the Voice was supposed to report on the actions of ALL of council. If the mayor of my city, Ralph Klein or Paul Martin had a motion of reprimand brought against him, I’d sure want my newspaper to inform me.
Why did you feel it was not important to inform the students of that incident, but it was important to give a lengthy report into the December meeting when I handed in my resignation? This article was based on your implications as to why I quit (December 17th, 2003) and you then again also provided input into Ms. Maguire’s article last week? One last question, why did Ms. Maguire not contact any other councilors, only Ms. Jabbour (and you the editor of the Voice)? Ms. Jabbour states in Ms. Maguire’s article that the wrongdoings of councilors should stay private:
She (Ms. Jabbour) also believes that when a member is removed the only information that needs to be disclosed is the fact that the member was removed and what policy violations they committed. In her opinion, putting too much focus on negative events and all the details involved results in wasting time and overshadowing other positive things that the council is doing.
Shouldn’t the students, who employ the councilors, know “how” their representatives are spending their money and representing them? If councilors make mistakes or perform unethically the students should know! Now, I just finished reading the latest edition of Alberta Views and I wonder if the President of AUSU is representing the interests of the administration at AU or the students?
The most serious issues facing Athabasca students this year are tuition and the effects of Bill 43. Our institution is in serious trouble, since it receives far less funding than campus-based universities, due to the Alberta government’s funding formula, which is based on percentage of infrastructure. Our administration has tried to find ways to cope with this, such as asking for exclusion from the tuition fee policy under government regulation; however, the majority of the student representatives have not been able to support this.
I don’t know if I even want to go into this one, but I’m pretty sure that ALL of council does not agree with Ms. Jabbour’s comments. If AU is removed from the tuition fee policy, I’m pretty sure a lot of AU students may not be able to afford to continue at AU and they lose all of the little predictability they currently have for what their tuition will be from year to year. From what I remember of my time on Council every AUSU councilor was against tuition increases for AU students but one, can you guess which councilor sided more with AU administration? What is going on here? The needs of the students should come first to AUSU not the needs of the AU administration!!!! BUT, all that was described in this Alberta Views article was the frustrations faced by poor AU administrators, not the problems and frustrations faced by the AU students, those that AUSU represent [sic]. Who cares about the students in BC and Quebec who are having a hard time getting students loans to study at AU and the students who do get loans but eek [sic] out a pitiful subsistence on the money provided while trying to raise a family. Yeah, AU is in a tough spot considering they are practically a world-wide monopoly in providing distance learning to nearly 30,000 students with no traditional brick and mortar costs. I’m a little appalled that AUSU chose to have that printed in a publication.
This need for secrecy that the President keeps trying to convey is completely against democratic principles. This is a favorite quote of mine from Ms. Maguire’s article:
The President also expressed some concerns she has with the disclosure of detailed information about the wrongful acts of Councilors. First of all, she believes that such information should not be presented on the main AUSU website because it is accessible to the entire Internet community. She believes that it would be unfair to place such information in a place where it will show up in Internet searches for the entire world to view.
Government committees place meeting minutes on-line, other student unions (who are campus-based I might add) place their minutes, their agendas, AND their budgets on-line. The “whole world” is not who wants to see AUSU council information, it is the AU students! The clubs can be put behind a log-in accessible by AU students, why then can’t the minutes? Council needs to start acting more democratically and actively attempting to encourage student input and participation by on-line surveys for major decisions and regular updates. Most importantly the reports of the Executive, the minutes from the meetings and the financial budget NEED to be accessible by the students.
In closing, I think Shannon Maguire’s article was good, but more information sources should have been consulted, primarily other councillors. I’m really glad to see other students taking an interest in their student government.
That’s my two cents,