Speak For Yourself

I wasn’t around for AUSU’s last student council election in 2012, so I’ve been following the 2014 elections with great curiosity. Unlike federal or provincial government elections and their unrelentingly coverage, the AUSU election is subtle. No campaign buses, no media interviews, no all-candidates meetings, and no mudslinging. I like it!

AU’s Student Union is important to me. It is often my primary source of information for what’s happening at AU. E-text initiative and call-centre model? I heard about these issues first from AUSU. It is also reassuring to know that I have AUSU campaigning on my behalf. They have a seat at AU’s table and a voice to remind AU that they’re here to serve their students and not the other way around. AUSU is on my side.

I’ve learned more about AU from AUSU, and I’ve learned more about AUSU from following the election campaign. The call for candidates on January 20 led me to wonder more about AUSU council. How does it work when council members are spread across Canada? I headed to the AUSU website’s governance page where I found the AUSU student council’s policies and bylaws as well as meeting minutes for the past two years. (Reading meeting minutes, by the way, is an excellent tool for essay-avoidance?procrastination (as I wrote about in an earlier article) that you can feel good about.)

I learned even more once nominations closed and the candidates were announced. The “Election 2014 Q&A” forum opened up February 8 on the AUSU discussion forum page. Reading comments that candidates posted led me to more questions, followed by more information-hunting. For example, what about this surplus they’re talking about? Back to ausu.org to look up the AUSU 2013 Annual Report.

Following the candidates’ comments on the election forum has been enlightening. Learning where each candidate stands on issues such as funding, student engagement, and tuition increases has helped me make informed choices on the ballot. Even responses to the more light-hearted inquiries, such as the one about chunky versus smooth, helped create a fuller picture of each council hopeful.

Following this election has not only been enlightening, but it’s making me a more engaged student. I am not a random, free-floating unit, but part of a whole. I have heavily invested both time and money into my education, and AUSU student council is my voice at AU to help preserve and protect that investment. I’m not just a fish in AU’s revenue stream! My vote in this election is my voice at AUSU council.

If you want your voice to be heard, you have to speak for yourself. Voting runs February 19 to 22 online at ausu.org. Spend a few minutes reading the candidate bios and, to learn more, read through their comments on the “Election 2014 Q&A” forum. Candidates have spent valuable time campaigning in this election; reading their bios and their comments shows appreciation for their efforts.

Casting your vote shows AU that AUSU truly does represent the student body. When you vote (and you only have until February 22, so do it now!) don’t forget to also vote on the referendum question about the proposed health plan for students. You can find information on that here.

AUSU wants to know what you think. Don’t miss this opportunity to speak for yourself.

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario