VOICE CANDIDATE INTERVIEWS – Karl Low

AUSU COUNCIL CANDIDATE – Karl Low
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 became aware of Council after I started working for The Voice in 2001. Since then, a lot of groundwork has been lain, and the next Council will have some great opportunities to capitalize on that for the students. I want to be there to help make those opportunities into realities.

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 completed most of my degree from AU, and am in the home-stretch before finally graduating. The hardest part about distance study, for me, is simply sitting down to do it. There always seem to be so many other things that need the time.

The most rewarding part is knowing that when I have finished a course, it is because I found the motivation and had the ability to do it on my own. That is something that simply cannot be taken away from a person.

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?

A rather significant one, as I’ve been heavily involved with The Voice and AUSU for about half of my AU career. I find I look at courses through the eyes of AUSU rather than myself and wind up asking questions like “What about this course would make it easier for all students? What doesn’t work well?”

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

My previous work with Council is of course valuable as it means I already have gone through a lot of the learning curve that comes when joining an organization. However, beyond that, my experience working with AU as a member of the Virtual Help Desk and assisting COMP students with day-to-day computing difficulties keeps me grounded.

Sometimes a danger of being on AUSU Council is you start to think that all the students are interested and involved in what is happening with Council. Working on the Virtual Help Desk serves to remind me that most students are really just here for an education. That helps me to keep my focus on the idea that Council should always be focussed on helping students to have the best educational experience they can.

Finally, my work as a legal receptionist/secretary has given me an eye to detail that I’ve found invaluable when working with Council, as sooner or later, everything comes down to the details.

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

I’d tell them about the one-on-one instructor support; it’s an advantage AU has but does not publicize enough.

Another benefit of an AU education that you don’t hear talked about much is that by learning at a distance, AU students are probably the best prepared to succeed no matter what situation they get placed into. We’ve learned how to do it on our own.

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 make things better for all of the students. So to some degree this includes all of the above. To some degree it includes helping AU to provide the best educational experience they can. To some degree it includes fighting AU when they choose directions or actions that make life more difficult for the students.

However, as I mentioned before, the primary role of AUSU Council is working to ensure that students are getting the best educational experience they can have. After all, even if a student never uses any of AUSU’s services, they’re still trying to get an education. So it makes sense that Council always works to benefit those students too.

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

It’s always been value for the money. Every AU student puts their money toward this organization. It’s our job to ensure that they get value for their dollars – that they’re being leveraged in the best way possible to make the AU experience a better one for all AUSU members.

So the one, most important thing that I want to do is to make sure that any decision Council makes, we’re making with an eye toward the value received for the money spent.

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.

One of the best and worst things about working with a group is that decisions are not your own. This means that when you come up with a good idea, it will take time to get that idea through the group and start to act on it. On the other hand, it also means that if that good idea had some flaws in it, there is more chance they’ll be spotted and fixed before they become real problems.

Another advantage of working with a group is specialization. Each member will have their areas of expertise, and that lets the entire group be more effective, as a single person could never be an expert in everything.

But for Council, the biggest advantage of working in a group is that a group can reflect the wide diversity of AU students – something that would otherwise be lost on a single individual.

See the February 25th (v12 i08) and the March 3rd (v12 i09) editions of The Voice for interviews with candidates Lonita Fraser, Melanie Gray, Stacey Steele, Cindy Stobbe, Joy Krys, Teresa Neuman, and Shannon Maguire.

The pdf versions of these issues are 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
Cindy Stobbe: http://www.ausu.org/voice/articles/articledisplay.php?ART=2626
Joy Krys: http://www.ausu.org/voice/articles/articledisplay.php?ART=2627
Teresa Neuman: http://www.ausu.org/voice/articles/articledisplay.php?ART=2628
Shannon Maguire: http://www.ausu.org/voice/articles/articledisplay.php?ART=2629

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