Council Connection

May 14, 2014

This month at AUSU Council, I was happy to note that Council has officially moved away from the consent agenda format used at the past meeting to a format where the executive and committee chairs go over the highlights of their full reports to Council. This change makes the meetings very useful to average students who might want an idea of what Council is doing with AUSU’s money, or for those who want to find out some behind the scenes information about what is currently happening at Athabasca University.

At this meeting, AUSU Council voted to eliminate the clubs program. This program, which was started almost 10 years ago and provided forum-space and a customized web-site for students who were interested in forming an AUSU Club, has apparently not been used very much by students. The most active club, The Student Mom’s Club, has had no posts in their forum since 2011. Council pointed out that the club is still active, but has moved its operations to Facebook. While AUSU will no longer be hosting their forums or web-pages, the hope is to establish some sort of directory that will be used to help students find these groups that can provide them with assistance or simply a sense of community with other AU students.

Other policies that Council examined were the Planning and Schedule Policy, the Temporary Employee Policy, and the Staff Professional Development Policy. As a personal note, these particular councillors seemed to be taking an active role in their duties, with pertinent questions being raised on most of the policies.

Council also revised the Terms of Reference for the Media Committee, in the process renaming it to the Member Engagement and Communications Committee. It was felt that the old committee’s mandate (primarily to assist with the development of AUSU media and communications) was too restrictive and more in the realm of what staff should be doing. The new terms of reference will have the committee looking for more active ways to make students, like you, feel more a part of a full university experience.

During this meeting, AU’s new interim president was announced, with AUSU President Jason Nixon stating he felt very positive that the university went to an outsider for this interim position rather than appointing an insider already from Athabasca University. Councillor Shawna Wasylyshyn pointed out that she had being going to the University of Saskatchewan while Mr. MacKinnon was president there and felt that this was quite a positive move for Athabasca University, suggesting that she felt Mr. MacKinnon seemed to be a very student focussed president while she was there.

Also announced during this meeting is that AUSU is currently short one member. Last election, former Councillor Evan Schmidt ran for a seat on Council and was elected. However, there was a motion of removal pending against Evan during the election that resolved after voting day and caused Evan to be removed from Council and placed as a member not in good standing, thus ineligible to serve on Council. Details of this can be seen in the March 31 Council Meeting Minutes. It was noted during that elections several weaknesses in the AUSU elections policy. AUSU has hired the former CRO, as the person with the most experience with using the AUSU Elections policies, to review and suggest revisions along with AUSU’s attorney to Council for changes to the policy.

Once the policy has been changed, AUSU will be holding a by-election to fill the vacant seat.

See what you miss when You’re not there? The next AUSU Council Meeting will be on June 11th, at 5:30pm MST.