Editorial – Convocation!

First, congratulations to all those who have graduated over the past year. The last couple of days have seen a number of you up in Athabasca, Alberta participating in AU’s formal graduation ceremony, and with one more day of ceremonies to go, this is actually a great time for newer students to see what is hopefully in store for them in the future. If You’re reading this before Saturday afternoon, you should really consider taking a few moments to check out the live-streaming webcast of the ceremonies.

What you won’t see in the webcast, however, is just how pretty the grounds and area of Athabasca University is. I’ve been up to Athabasca once, myself, however, that was in the middle of winter where the -40 degree weather (and that was without factoring in the wind-chill) made looking at anything aside from the quickest path to get indoors very difficult. Fortunately, Bethany Tynes has given us a photo feature so that we can all get an idea of what our university looks like.

One of the many things that tie the students and alumni of traditional universities together is that they all hold some of the same experiences and knowledge of their campus and environs. Things like Mac Hall, the Hub, The Bob, The Maddy hold meaning to students from certain campuses (U of C, U of A, and Victoria College, and U of T respectively) But at AU, we don’t have that. So these few shared experiences we do get, convocation, exam centres, are all the more precious, and even they only connect a very few of us. If the experience of a post-secondary education is supposed to be collegial (which has the same roots as the word “college” for a reason) then it seems a shame that AU has put so little into developing collegial experiences for students to share.

Of course, in fairness, before widespread adoption of the internet and newer and faster technologies, these opportunities would have been extremely difficult. But that was then. This is now. Creating those experiences is easier than ever, but with the recent reports underlining the difficulty of AU remaining sustainable for the next several years, the appetite for doing things which would have no obvious cost-benefit is probably at a minimum. Still, I think AU could consider it. Their infrastructure is already organized around providing information at a distance, why not host various lectures, debates, forums, maybe even concerts, or other such events and offer them to AU students for a modest fee? It might work to enhance both revenue and student collegiality. It would also allow AU to carve out a niche that might attract more students.

Aside from that, this week, both Barb Lehtiniemi and Deanna Roney look at the services provided by AUSU. Barb examines a service that may soon cease to be, while Deanna asks about a service that AUSU used to provide but no longer does. Tying that all together is this months’s Council Connection. Written this week by our own S.D. Livingston.

We also have the second part of Marie Well’s feature interview with Dr. “Vive” Kumar, plus advice, reviews, and informative articles means that this issue of The Voice Magazine should have something for everyone.
Enjoy the read!