Editorial – The Third Law of Unintended Consequences

The brouhaha about the call centre continues to simmer. Most recently, the Athabasca Advocate published a letter from AUSU on the issue, which points out that not only have the students repeatedly contacted them with concerns about the change to the call-centre, despite the assertions of GSA President, Amanda Nielsen, that students are in favor of the change but that neither Amanda nor even the university have really consulted with stakeholder groups about whether this change will be accepted.

However, the issue is no longer confined to just the Athabasca Advocate. The Edmonton Metro has now picked up the story, in part fueled by the formal grievance filed by CUPE. I’ve also heard that some students are also making their opinions known to the university administration by writing to Carol Lund, the University Secretary. It seems that Ms. Nielsen’s action has demonstrated to us the third law, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, often one that’s unintended at the beginning. If this reaction can get the University to slow down and start actually doing some research on whether a shift to call centre will actually save them money or simply end up costing them students and credibility, that’s a very good thing in my opinion.

It would also be a good thing simply because it would demonstrate to us that systems do not have to control people, but rather that we can have an effect on the systems, so long as we’re industrious enough to simply speak up about it.

And speaking of speaking up, I’ve been informed that the coming election will also contain a vote on the implementation of a new health care plan for students. You can find details about this health care plan on the AUSU site. One of the difficulties of coming up with health care for AUSU members is that many of us are simply visiting from other universities, or are working, so either already have health care plans, or simply don’t want to spend the extra money on one. AUSU has previously taken the stance that only opt-in programs are acceptable, but those have had little success. This new plan is an opt-out version, but unlike many student health care plans, does not require any proof of other insurance or reason for opting out.

You may note that this edition of the Voice Magazine has a lot of AUSU and education related material. That’s intentional. With the AUSU election coming up soon, I like to encourage people to really think about what this university means to them, both in what they can get from it and what they want to get. Once the call for candidates closes on Sunday, then the really interesting part begins where we start to hear what plans people have for AUSU.

In the meantime, while “From Where I Sit” is not with us this week as Hazel is taking a well deserved vacation, our other regular columnists are bringing us back to basics, with The Writer’s Toolbox giving us a primer on grammatical lingo, and Primal Numbers looking at not so basic science being done with every-day people. We also have reviews, advice, a comic, and of course, the 2nd part of Katie D’Souza’s article on handling weight loss when the traditional means just aren’t working. So, please, read, enjoy, and let me know what you think.