Opinion: Value of The Voice Magazine

The Voice Magazine provides more value to students than any other single AUSU program or benefit. And, since it continues to provide increasing value to an increasing number of students, AUSU has no reason?no legitimate reason?to silence the magazine.

AUSU Council quietly announced?via a meeting notice posted on its website?in early April that they would seek a bylaw change at the April 21, 2015 Annual General Meeting to replace The Voice Magazine with a Writer-in-Residence. After a couple uncomfortable weeks of student backlash, AUSU quietly announced?this time via its Facebook page?that it would remove those proposed bylaw items from the meeting agenda, and address “concerns with The Voice” sometime in the future.

AUSU Council’s stated reasons for having concerns with The Voice is that the magazine is not performing well (“dismal” was the way they described it), is not benefiting many students, and is not providing student-related content. I disagree.

At the Aug 13, 2014 AUSU council meeting, the then-Executive Director discussed her monthly report to council. I am an AU student and I was at that meeting and took notes. The ED mentioned that The Voice continued to be on track to meeting its benchmarks. There had been a 50% increase in site visits, additional writers had been attracted to the magazine, and content was improving.

In subsequent AUSU council meetings I have heard no further report or comment on the magazine’s performance. However, because I read the magazine weekly (and have done so since 2012 as well as writing for it since late 2013) I can tell you that The Voice continues on an upward trajectory with regard to writers and content.

In the last six months of 2014, for example, a new study tips column, The Study Dude, became a regular feature; The Travelling Student began his ongoing tales of studying at AU while he travelled around the world; a popular series of AU student interviews, Minds We Meet, was launched; and a few more AU students began polishing their writing skills at The Voice.

The Voice continues to provide content that is directly relevant to students. A review of recent issues of The Voice reveals that the majority of pages are devoted to content that directly relates to AUSU, AU, and post-secondary education (despite the assertion of AUSU council that the majority of articles have “absolutely nothing to do” with these topics; one wonders what magazine they’ve been reading.)

In addition to the regular AUSU content page and the coverage of AUSU council meetings, recent articles in The Voice have promoted AUSU and its services such as lynda.com, the AUSU forums, the student planner, and AUSU scholarships, as well as encouraging students to participate in council elections and attend council meetings and the AGM.

AU and its services continue to be featured in The Voice, with articles on the AU library, applying for transfer credits, AU Press, course selection, AU’s Study Skills series, the new AU student orientation, and the launch of AU’s first MOOC. Athabasca University liked one of The Voice‘s 2014 articles so much it reprinted the article, with permission, on its own blog page.

The Voice is focused on student-related content, which is why readers have benefited from columns and articles discussing writing skills, study-tips, exams, note-taking, e-texts, tutors, stress, procrastination, scholarships, essays, student advice, and just about any student-related topic than you can imagine. And because students aren’t students all the time, The Voice also offers general-interest articles about current events and trends, music, slices of life, and finishes off each issue with a comic.

AUSU council should adopt a cooperative and constructive stance and work toward ensuring that The Voice continues to provide as much value as it can to as many students as it can. The Voice is the best thing that AUSU has to offer students.

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

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