VOICE CANDIDATE INTERVIEWS – Lonita Fraser

AUSU COUNCIL CANDIDATE – Lonita Fraser
See http://www.ausu.org/election/candidates.php for a list of all of the candidates.

How did you first become aware of AUSU Council, and why do you want to be a part of council in 2004?

I first became aware of the AUSU and Council about two years ago when I first started as an AU student. I had been browsing the AU website, looking at everything that was up there, and found a link to the AUSU website via the Student Services section of the AU website. Later, after the forums had gone up on the AUSU website, I was invited to participate in one of the Council’s many committees, which gave me a taste of dealing with Council directly. I’ve decided to run for Council, as I wanted to increase my involvement in the student and school community, and in a way that will hopefully benefit all AU students.

Tell me a little about your experience with distance education: How many AU or distance ed courses have you completed, and what have you found hardest, or most rewarding, about distance study.

AU has been my first experience with distance education (something I’m extremely happy AU provides in the manner it does), and since embarking on my Bachelor of General Studies degree in early 2002 I’ve taken 12 courses. What I appreciate most about the way AU runs, is that I can do my work at my own pace, and learn in a manner that’s suited to myself; I set my own pace, study when it’s most convenient for me, and have felt that education is far less of a chore than it was when I was younger. The challenge, of course, is self-discipline, which distance education has helped me to develop.

What role, if any, has AUSU played in your AU experience so far? If AUSU has not played a role, what could it have done to facilitate your learning?

Contact with the AUSU and its many affiliates, like The Voice and various committees, has put me in touch with other students, which is something that wasn’t likely to happen otherwise. I don’t feel quite so isolated from the rest of the AU educational community now, and the AUSU has helped me to develop a couple of friendships as well as given me a place to go if I have any questions, problems, or just want to share something – their creation of the discussion forums is a fabulous tool for communicating with others on various levels.

What work or life experience(s) have you had that you feel will be particularly valuable to you in working with council?

I have extensive experience with using the Internet and its various tools, and feel that experience would be invaluable to a community that so largely depends on the Internet; this includes a great deal of experience in communications of various sorts, and communicating with many different kinds of people. Also, I feel my skills as a writer would be helpful in communicating on behalf of Council, and as a sight-impaired person I could certainly contribute my viewpoints on web usability for the disabled.

If someone were to ask you why they should choose to attend AU, over other universities, what would you tell them?

I would, without hesitation, tell them to do so. AU, and distance education in general, provide a freedom in learning that doesn’t exist in a more traditional classroom setting, which makes it particularly appealing for those who can’t afford to take time away from a paying job in order to spend their time in a classroom. Also, I’ve had such good experiences with AU staff and tutors, far better than I had in a more traditional university, that I want others to share in that.

Speaking generally, what do you feel is the primary role of a students’ union (ie, student advocacy, services, financial support, etc)?

I think the two primary purposes of a students’ union are student advocacy and the promotion of a healthy student life; this includes acting as an intermediary in student conflicts, working as an intermediary between the student and the university, promotion of services beneficial to a student’s educational and social well-being while at school, pursuing whatever avenues are necessary to ensure that a student receives a fair educational existence, and the inception and promotion of services and other resources that will give a student a sense of community and a place to turn for other needs.

Is there one, most important thing that you want to do for AU students as a member of council?

The most important thing I would attempt to do, is whatever it would take (within sensible reason) to increase student involvement in the services that the AUSU provides – mainly to decrease any feelings of isolation our body of distance students might be feeling. I want the AU student community to be aware that there are ways for them to communicate with each other, that they don’t have live incommunicado with each other, and that they can have a student experience similar to what students at other universities enjoy; this includes clubs and other forms of socialisation.

Working with AUSU council means working with a group. What do you see as the benefits and/or disadvantages of working as a part of a large group or board, rather than as an individual.

Working as an individual means working alone, and although this can be beneficial when you need to concentrate, it also means that there’s no one to help you if you need it. When one works with a group one has the benefit of others to aid you in your efforts; you also have the benefit of others’ opinions, which are valuable when it’s fair criticism, and which are an endless source of fresh ideas. The only drawbacks I see to working with a group are personality conflicts. However, if one remains calm and retains at least some vestige of maturity, those conflicts can be put aside or resolved in order that the whole can work towards the common good.

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