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 more aware and involved in Council activities in Fall 2002 after the new website was brought online. Near the end of 2003 I began volunteering on both the Legislative committee and the new Mentor program committee and together with a fellow science student created the AU Science Students Society. Around this time I began to consider running for council since I had more free time on my hands and I wanted to contribute to the student environment over the next couple years.

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 recently completed a BA in Psychology through AU. During my Psych studies I completed 21 AU courses and the remainder were transfer credit from the University of Calgary. Currently I’m a full time student in the BSc in Human Science program through AU and I am registered in another 6 science courses. To date I’ve found the science courses to be the most challenging and this is due in large part to the laboratory travel requirements. Thankfully I live in Calgary, AB and this has helped to minimize the cost and travel time required for these courses. I also thoroughly enjoyed my Psychology courses through AU, the Centre for Psychology has a wonderful website with excellent learning tools and the courses are very well designed.

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?

Once the improved website and message forums were brought online in 2002, AUSU started to play a larger role for me. It became easier to become informed on AUSU news and events as well as communicate with Council and fellow students. I think the tremendous growth in AU’s student population has helped to increase the student interactions in the past couple years and AUSU has worked hard to create a student environment. As the website and discussion forum continues to improve I think student involvement will also continue to increase.

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

Prior to attending AU full time, I worked in the IT industry for a number of years. I think this is an asset since I am comfortable using and communicating over the internet and through email which is the primarily means of communication for AUSU. I also love working with and helping others, which is why I completed a Psychology major. Recently I started volunteering with ARBI (Association for the Rehabilitation of the Brain Injured) in Calgary, AB. So far it’s been a wonderful experience and has enabled me to work hands on with brain injured clients and to help them regain various motor or cognitive functions.

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

I would definitely recommend to anyone that they should complete courses through AU. First and foremost is the convenience, AU is so flexible in regards to course start dates, pre-requisites and completion/exam dates that you can fit courses into just about any lifestyle. Second, the one-on-one tutoring is amazing, and students at “traditional” universities seldom have the opportunity to work with their professors on such an intimate level. Finally, the course and program selection is constantly growing and courses are frequently revised to reflect changes in field.

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

Student Advocacy is primary to an effective students union, because individual students may not have the resources or time to keep abreast of all legislation or policies that can affect their course of studies. Second I think it is imperative for AUSU to offer an interactive community for students. Since our university is almost entirely virtual students need to have a place to talk, ask questions, vent and gain support from their peers and most importantly feel like they belong to a community. Finally increasing financial assistance and offering a medical/dental plan for students is important.

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

Well actually there are two issues that I feel are very important to consider for AU students. First, I think we need to look into the cost/benefit of medical/dental benefits for students. Most “traditional” universities offer these types of plans, and since the number of full time AU students is steadily increasing I think it is important for AUSU to seriously consider offering a plan. Second, I think we need to look into the possibility of starting a used book exchange for students or provide a medium for students to sell textbooks online. This can help students to reduce their education costs and recoup some material costs.

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 in a large group (particularly through e-mail and message forums primarily) is definitely slower and more time consuming then working alone. However, an individual working alone is not representative of the student population and can be biased towards a single goal. Groups facilitate discussion, debate and can help ensure that the solutions chosen really do represent the needs of the students as opposed to one individual’s point of view.

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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