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 AUSU Council when I read about them on the AUSU website. Distance education can be very difficult, but the presence and the services of AUSU made me feel like I was a part of something. I would like to serve on Council so that I may help to make other students feel the same way I do.

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.

I have received 66 transfer credits and completed 9 credits toward the 120 credit Bachelor of Professional Arts degree. Currently, I am enrolled in 3 courses at AU and a MS Publisher course at the Academy of Learning. So far I have found that I prefer distance education because it allows me to study anywhere and anytime.

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 played a large role in my AU experience because they fund the newspaper I read everyday, they run the discussion forum I use to talk to other students, they approved the Athabasca University Sports Club that I wanted to create, they informed me about possible tuition increases and changes to legislation that would affect me, and they let me know through these services and others what other students are doing and what is going on in the University. If I had not found the AUSU I would imagine that individual study would have felt exactly as it sounds.

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

I attended two other post secondary institutions before AU and I have lived in 7 different cities in Canada (British Columbia: Victoria, Vancouver – Ontario: Kingston, Dryden, Geraldton, Stouffville – Quebec: Quebec City – Nova Scotia: Halifax). These experiences have exposed me to the advantages and disadvantages of different types of educational institutions and the differences that exist between cities in Canada. I have seen what is good and bad about both traditional and distance education, and I will bring these insights with me to the Council.

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

If you like freedom and opportunity you will go to AU. AU gives you the freedom to study when and where you want. It also provides opportunities for people to get into university, get credit for life work, and transfer credits from other institutions. Moreover, AU lets you do these things easily. When I finished my two year college program and decided that I wanted to get a degree, I thought I would be facing the impossible task. I thought I would only be able to transfer a few credits and consequently would be starting over from the beginning. That was not the case. AU transferred my entire college program and two of my Queen’s University credits. I have felt more welcome and I have participated more at AU than I did at any of the other post-secondary institutions I have attended. It is also a great feeling to know that I can start any class at any time, I can travel anytime I want because there are no scheduled classes, I can move at any time without disrupting my education, and I can set my own schedule. If I start to miss the traditional format someday, I am comforted by the fact that I can take a few classes as a visiting student at a traditional school to remind myself why I prefer distance education.

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

I think that the primary role of a students’ union is to fulfill student needs. These needs are always changing, so I don’t think that it is possible to state that one type is more important than the other. For instance, when the government was debating changes to the education legislation, the students’ needed representation and protection on that matter at that time. But when legislation changes are not being made other needs such as the need for adequate information or services allowing students to meet each other may emerge and take precedence. Consequently, the role of student council is in a state of flux and the shape it takes depends on current events and circumstances.

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

I would like to conduct a survey to find out what the demographics of the student body are and what the students want. I believe that once AUSU finds out who the students are and what they want they will be able to concentrate on the most important matters to students and develop services that the students really want.

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.

Groups are extremely valuable because your work is examined from more than one point of view. When you put forth an idea in a group someone else may see something that you missed. Instead of developing an idea based only on your limited knowledge and experience you will be able to incorporate the knowledge and experience of every member of the group. Groups can also, of course, be counterproductive if they do not work together properly. I have extensive experience working in groups in both an educational and work setting, and I have always functioned well within them.

See the February 25th (v12 i08) edition of The Voice for interviews with candidates Lonita Fraser, Melanie Gray, and Stacey Steele.

The pdf version of this issue is available at: http://www.ausu.org/voice/pdf/pdflist.php

The interviews are also available online at:
Lonita Fraser: http://www.ausu.org/voice/articles/articledisplay.php?ART=2597
Melanie Gray: http://www.ausu.org/voice/articles/articledisplay.php?ART=2598
Stacey Steele: http://www.ausu.org/voice/articles/articledisplay.php?ART=2599