VOICE CANDIDATE INTERVIEWS – Stacey Steele

AUSU COUNCIL CANDIDATE – Stacey Steele
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 had taken a course at AU a few years ago. At that time I had no clue (or I heard about AUSU in passing) that a students’ union existed. A while later I saw a mom from my daughter’s grade 2 class wearing an AU t-shirt (former Councillor Sandra Moore). We got talking about AU and educational goals. She also told me about AUSU.

I wanted to continue my education, but until I had resources (cold hard cash!) I was unable to start. While waiting for these resources in spring 2003, I researched the AUSU website, and the AU site to get more information. I was eager to be involved with AUSU in any way I could, so when AUSU Council put out the call to students to fill 3 vacant Councillor positions I jumped at the chance.

I want to stay on Council for 2004/2005 so I can continue serving AU students, and to be a part of a valuable organization.

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.

My experience with distance education started in 1994 with the University of Saskatchewan. I took a year and a half of courses through U of S by means of satellite and classroom (like AU’s group study) and independent studies (like AU’s individualized study). My education was interrupted for a while by motherhood, work, and family life. The time came to get on with my education and in July 2003 I enrolled in AU’s BA program with a major in Psychology. So far I have 51 credits (including transfer) with 69 credits left to go and I hope to complete them all at AU.

Quite honestly, I love distance learning. My learning habits were erratic sometimes with classroom study (I was the student who showed up only for exams and the days we had donuts after class!), and distance education pushes me to succeed on my own terms. But now as an adult student, I do have a strong “keener” streak that wasn’t present before and I sometimes crave the face to face interaction with profs and other students (and those donut days after class!).

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?

AUSU has given me, and others, a community of students to identify with. I’ve never been an online “chatter” or forum poster, but now this online community is something fulfills that craving for interaction with other students. I never thought I would grow to care about and depend so much on people I’ve never even seen before!

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

Well, that would be the 2 years I spent with J.D. Salinger and perhaps the time I taught Castro how to ski:: All joking aside, I have had several interesting experiences (well, interesting to me!) with work and life. I really don’t see my particular experiences as being more valuable than anyone else’s. Each individual has their own unique perspective on life experience that is meaningful to them. The combined life perspectives and contributions of 9 people can result in a rich and productive AUSU Council.

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

Good question! Promoting the AU “brand” is essential and needed. With the recent numbers showing enrolment at an all time high, it indicates that AU is becoming more legit in the minds of prospective students. Flexibility, broad and diverse courses, complete undergrad and graduate programs, and personalized attention all combine to serve students, that for whatever reason, cannot attend on campus universities. Achieving success with AU is the best way an individual student can promote this university’s unique and esteemed presence on the Canadian and global education scene.

It’s not my nature to tell someone which university to go to, but I would suggest that they look into AU themselves and see what AU has to offer them.

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

A students’ union is all of the above. The many roles of a students’ union vary in importance from student to student. At any given time we need to treat each function of AUSU with equal importance.

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

The one single thing I would like to do for AU students as a member of Council is to promote a community of students. There are many things Council can do to facilitate this and I would appreciate the opportunity to work with other members of AUSU Council and students in general to work towards this goal.

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.

Although AUSU Council is not a huge group, the many volunteers and others involved with AUSU functions add up to many people. Serving on council this far has been a learning experience, but a very fulfilling one. The drawback is not in association with the amount of people, but relying on e-mail as the primary means of communication. This disadvantage that AUSU Council has, is one that has been embraced and resolved and has proved how truly unique this students’ union is.

The benefit of working with a group is seeing viewpoints that may not have been previously considered. Debate (and dare I say arguments!) almost always ends in a better solution than would have resulted as a person working alone. There is not a better feeling than seeing the positive concrete results of something everyone has worked on as part of a team!

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