With the recent news about the Athabasca Unviversity Students’ Union and The Voice Magazine, I have found myself a bit lost. Politics is something I do not excel at. I tend to believe what I am told; I believe that when someone says that they have my best interest at heart, they do. I still do not understand what the union is planning, and I was hoping these issues would be addressed and cleared up at the meeting last Tuesday. Even if the Voice had been removed from the agenda.
This uproar got me thinking, what does The Voice Magazine mean to me? Do I, and, by extension, potentially other students and student-writers, gain enough experience from it to warrant keeping it around? For me, that answer is an unwavering, “Yes.” Since I have found The Voice, which I did not know about for the first couple years of my degree, I have felt a sense of comradery, a feeling that I missed in the beginning of my degree. The Voice, for me as a student, allows me to connect to other students, to learn from other students, and to feel like I am a part of a larger community. I look forward to receiving The Voice each week, and taking a quick break from my studies as soon as it comes in to browse the articles. And when I need to take a break from schoolwork throughout the week, I always go back to it to read another article.The Voice has helped give me direction. Direction in where I want to take my schooling and where I want to take my writing. The practical experience that I am getting from The Voice is invaluable. As a writer for The Voice, I am able to get articles edited and published. This experience is worth so much to me as an aspiring writer. Without this exposure I would leave school with nothing extra to put on my resume. I would have a degree, but how would that compete with others who have a degree and experience with their student newspapers? The Voice has boosted my confidence in my writing and in my decision to pursue writing.
I would hate to see this opportunity disappear for students. I had discussions with AUSU where they assured me that this part of the student experience would not be affected, that, in the new website, students would still be able to write and gain this critical experience. A part of me doubts that it would be the same experience as we have currently with the Voice. Because, if that was the case, why does the bylaw need to change? Is it just to reduce the funding? And, if so, to me that means fewer students will benefit from the new website. If the issue is readership, traffic to the website, and updating the website, I am sure these are things that can be resolved with the current Voice. However, students are benefiting from the Voice the way it is now. Should the website be updated? Possibly, and it is my understanding that these issues are being addressed. I have about as much understanding of web design as I do politics, so I have no comment on what is, or is not, being done and why (or why not.) All I can comment on with authority is how the Voice has benefited me and enhanced my experience at AU.
I am also willing to bet, that with the recent, heated debates on public forums, there will be more students going to the website. Many students were not aware of the magazine, but now, after a week of discussions, That’s probably changed.
Deanna Roney is an AU student who loves adventure in life and literature