ELECTIONS ARE HERE!
Want to get involved with your fellow AU students? Gain valuable experience while still serving others? Then AUSU Council might be the place for you! AUSU holds elections every two years to fill nine positions on Council. These nine councillors later select from among themselves an executive group of three (President, VP External, and VP Finance), and this executive is elected annually. This year, nominations will be accepted February 6th-20th, followed by which campaigning will occur February 21st-March 2nd, and voting March 3rd-6th. Elections (including campaigning and voting) take place entirely online, so you can participate from virtually anywhere in the world.
What is Council and what’s required?
AUSU exists to serve the undergraduate students of Athabasca University. Some services are directly tangible to students (such as our handbook/planners, mailed free to students on request), while others are important, but more behind-the-scenes (such as meeting with the University to voice student concerns). Council is the body which directs and oversees these efforts, often by creating policies which are then carried out by the executive group and staff. Councillors help generate ideas and policies, and shouldn’t be confused with counsellors–councillors do not provide counselling.
Councillors work by phone and email, and need to be able to devote about 2-5 hours per week to Council work. Council meetings occur by teleconference about once a month, and these meetings are scheduled at the best possible time for the majority of the group. So while all councillors have input into our meeting times, they must also be able to be flexible in the event that not everyone’s wishes can be accommodated. Similarly, we welcome councillors from all over the world (we’ve recently had councillors in the Netherlands and Korea, as well as across Canada, participate!) but all councillors should be aware of time zone differences, and how this could affect meeting times in their location.
Councillors need access to reliable Internet and phone connections. We encourage councillors to use land lines while on teleconference, as this can help reduce background noise, but cell phones may be used if the sound quality is very clear. If you try to use a cell phone and we can’t hear you, though, you’ll need to make other arrangements. We also urge councillors not to drive during meetings, and to be at their computer if possible so that they can easily refer to meeting documents.
Councillors should also have a secure, reliable computer, and be willing to install some necessary software, including genuine Microsoft Office and Excel (if you don’t have these, we can help you get them, but Open Office alternatives do not provide adequate functionality for Council work). Councillors must also maintain the confidentiality of their computer and files, so if the computer is shared, councillors should be prepared to create their own password-protected account.
What do current Councillors have to say?
“I truly enjoyed the sense of community on AUSU. I feel as though I was part of something bigger from interacting with other students, and other members of the AU community. I always got the sense that the work I was doing with AUSU was positively contributing to other students’ experiences within the University. While students might not always be able to see the results immediately, AUSU is involved in many of the positive changes at AU. Sometimes it is something as simple as suggesting changes to the wording of service standards on the AU . . . website, while other times it can be something more complex, such as opposing the raising of tuition.”
“It is a lot of work; it is challenging to work with different personalities and cultures through mostly email (and never face to face). It is also fun and a really great experience.”
“I’d like to emphasize the importance of having passion behind what you do. Passion and determination to dream and accomplish what you set out for yourselves to achieve . . . Being on council is not nearly as easy as it may seem. It’s tremendously important to have enough time in your schedule to devote to what is required of you. So before you put your name forward make sure that you take a good look [at] what’s going on in your life, as two years is a big commitment.”
“I hope that the next Council will continue to foster positive relationships with AU, as well as continue to improve the services it offers to its student members. Taking the next step in a major website overhaul, as well as continuing to mail regular newsletters, and the newly implemented e-newsletter would all be services that would add benefit to AUSU members.”
“I have enjoyed meeting the other councillors, getting to know them, and developing relationships with them all. I also . . . love the democratic process we use for working with the other councillors through a problem or issue. While the conversations we have are varied and sometimes involve disagreement, I enjoy the mix of opinions and viewpoints. I especially look forward to the occasional comment or suggestion made by a councillor that brings up a side of an issue that I hadn’t considered, opening up my eyes and broadening my experience overall.”
“Being on council is a great experience. Not only is it fun and interesting, it offers a personal experience, an opportunity to communicate with fellow students . . . For those who make it onto the next Council, remember to be patient and avoid feeling overwhelmed. While there is a learning curve, it doesn’t take too long to feel welcome and a part of an interesting and important process.”
Want to know more?
For all the latest information on elections, and how you can self-nominate for our elections, visit our website!
This column is provided by AUSU to facilitate communication with its members. The Voice does not write or edit this section; all content has been exclusively and directly provided by AUSU, and any questions or comments about the material should be directed to email@example.com.