AUSU’s AGM: All Those in Favour?

Athabasca University’s Student Union must be doing things right.

The AUSU Annual General Meeting was held March 26 by teleconference. In attendance were members of student council, both outgoing and incoming (the changeover to the newly-elected council takes place next week.) In addition to the council members, all student members of AUSU were invited to attend. Only 3 or 4 did.

I’ve served on a number of public boards, and I’ve learned a lot from those experiences. One thing I know for sure is that, if the board is doing everything right, no members of the public bother to come to meetings. If, however, the board makes a wrong or unpopular decision, the public swarms the next meeting.

There was no such drama at the AUSU general meeting this week. Other than a discussion of the weather?a raging storm in Nova Scotia forced Tim Hortons there to close?the meeting was civilized and friendly.

The meeting was held by teleconference. Attendees phoned in from across Canada on a toll-free line. Tamra Ross, AUSU’s executive director, took attendance as each caller was announced. Members of AUSU in attendance (those on council and/or those enrolled in an AU undergraduate course) could move, second, or vote on any motion during the meeting.

The primary purpose of the meeting was to review the AUSU 2014 Annual Report, which includes the financial statements for the year ending September 20, 2013. The annual report, available as a pdf download from the AUSU website, is a well-organized, readable document. Because of this, and because most attendees were on council, only brief discussion was needed before members voted and passed the motion to accept the report.

The meeting lasted only 30 minutes. Some attendees lingered on the phone afterward for informal chat and questions not related to the meeting’s agenda.

For a teleconference it went very smoothly. Other than a persistent echo that some found distracting, the phone lines were clear. So clear that I noticed a bit of background noise from the various callers’ households: a dog barking, paper rustling, and what sounded like supper preparations. Rather than distracting, those sounds served to make the meeting seem more intimate. Hopefully AUSU will continue to do things right, otherwise everyone may want to participate next year!

I enjoyed the meeting. Attending was easy because, just like my studies at AU, I didn’t have to leave home. Online school can feel isolating, so hearing some voices from across Canada helped me feel a bit more connected.

If you missed participating in this AGM, you can still read the AUSU 2014 Annual Report online. Any AUSU member can attend, by teleconference, any AUSU council meeting during the year. See the AUSU website for details, or contact ausu@ausu.org.

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

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