From the Inside – A Candidate’s Look at the Election

With the AUSU election finished I’m looking forward to writing for The Voice Magazine again. I made the decision not to write during the campaign, lest I get an unfair advantage. With the election over a weight has been lifted and I can finally enjoy the pleasure of writing for The Voice again.

Given that the next AUSU general election will be held in seven months I wanted to describe the process in hopes that more of you will run in the next election. The recent election did have an all-time high with a voter turn-out of 1580, an order of magnitude higher than the previous election, but that is still only 6.3% of eligible students. With six positions on council open we had a total of 12 candidates running, giving everyone a fair chance at being on council.

After ensuring you have the time to commit to council the first step in running for council is getting your name on the ballot. If You’re a student in good standing the process is simple. Email the CRO, fill out a few forms, and attend an orientation (online or by phone). Optionally, you can prepare an election poster. It’s not required, but the three most popular candidates provided one. Once the campaign starts, you are required to reconfirm, and near the deadline, AUSU will send a reminder if you hadn’t already done so. Some candidates took that opportunity to step out of the election.

Many the elected councillors made use of the unofficial Athabasca Facebook page. While the format doesn’t allow for an in-depth discussion of issues like the forums, it does have a membership of over 1800 people. That number includes some alumni, staff, graduate students, and possible future students, however.

The AUSU forums seem to have been the central place for campaigning and for the most part the councillors elected were active there. Various issues including transparency, executive wages, and even The Voice Magazine were discussed. With current and potential councillors publishing the majority of the posts I wondered at times how many students were reading. Unlike an in person event (or even Facebook with its system of liking posts) you don’t see much feedback, which, at times, made me wonder.

In the end, voter turn-out proved otherwise. The forums turned out to be a great place to get information on potential councillors. With the possibility of a completely new website for AUSU It’s unclear if the forums will be around for the next election. I have to admit I’d never used the forums up until this election but, without them, asking the candidate’s questions would have been difficult. (There is also an Ask AUSU section where students can continue to ask questions)

With the election results being announced Thursday we have six new students joining council, each with varying views on issues discussed to this point. It’s hard to say what the future holds for AUSU. As one of those new councillors I’m looking forward to serving students and advocating the positions I ran on. While I won’t be publishing articles on AUSU myself I’m hoping the writers at The Voice Magazine will continue to do so. I have no doubt that articles published in this magazine have had an effect on the level of accountability at AUSU and hope they will continue to do so.

Philip Kirkbride is an AU Student with a penchant for travelling the globe while doing his AU courses.

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