See http://www.ausu.org/election/candidates.php for a list of all of the candidates.

My name is Teresa Neuman and I am running for election to Council. I would like to thank The Voice for this opportunity to express my views about being part of AUSU Council and the AU experience. I am enrolled in the Bachelor of Professional Arts -Communications Studies Program, live and work in Ottawa, Ontario, and am a wife and mother. Good Luck to all candidates and I encourage all AUSU members to take the time to vote for your Council.

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 during my first AU course in 2001. An election call was posted but I felt too new to distance education to run for Council at that time. However, I wanted to be involved, so I occasionally wrote pieces for The Voice and attended AUSU AGMs. In 2003, after attending a special Council meeting and hearing AU’s position about tuition increases, I knew that I wanted to be more involved with Council and wanted to work on behalf of other students like myself. In September, Council accepted applications to fill vacancies, I applied and was appointed.

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 am enrolled in the Bachelor of Professional Arts – Communications Studies program. I am impressed how my previous experience has counted towards accreditation. I have received credit for a previous diploma, have challenged classes for credit, and have completed a PLAR project. This left 12 classes for me to take, of which I have completed 5 and am enrolled in my sixth.

For me, studying by distance education has been great. I cannot afford to quit work right now to attend university. It allows me the flexibility to study around my job and family commitments. It has taught me to be more organized and has improved my self-discipline so that I can complete coursework on schedule.

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 an important part in my AU experience. I have met other students like myself and worked on projects that will benefit AU students. I am impressed at how the discussion forums, The Voice, and programs like Study Buddy and the AUSU Mentor Program bring students together to form a community. While I am by nature a fairly independent person, the programs and services provided by AUSU reinforce that I am not alone in my studies and that if I need support, it is there.

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

I was appointed to Council in September 2003, so I have experience working with the issues that most affect distance education students like rising tuition, balancing family and schoolwork, and building student community. I would like to combine the skills gained through my job and my studies to increase AUSU’s profile with other student unions and in the university community. Thanks to experience in the union movement, I work well on committees, am comfortable with policy and bylaws, and enjoy working as part of a team.

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

I would tell the person to choose AU because of the variety of programs, the great support from the tutors, and the excellent service from the library and call-centre staff. Distance education can work for any student, no matter where they live or what obstacles they face.

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

The primary role of the students’ union is to advocate for its members. That means speaking out on issues like rising tuition and working to break down barriers to distance education. It also means providing support services like the Study Buddy program which can make student life a little easier.

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

It’s tough to pick just one thing. But, I think that the most important thing I would do is continue to work to raise AUSU’s profile with AU and with other student unions and universities. Distance education is a real option for post-secondary education. AUSU Council needs to ensure that the voice of distance education students is increased in Alberta and heard across Canada.

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.

I have a lot of experience on boards and being a part of Council is no different than being a part of any other board. The biggest advantage of being part of a group like Council is the debate. What is great about AUSU Council is that voices are heard from all over Canada. This breaks down barriers to education and ensures that the action taken is the best one for the interests of AUSU members.

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