Council Connection – January 14, 2016 Meeting

On January 14th at 4:30 p.m., council held its public meeting, but not a lot new happened in public. The big takeaway is that there is now a committee reviewing AUSU’s executive compensation, and a seat is open for a student member. If You’re interested in the position, write to

Also noteworthy, council had to authorize an expense of just under $3,500.00 that had not been budgeted for. In the course of setting the last budget, a long-standing expense to pay for AUSU mail-outs to members was missed: as purchases were often made in large amounts to take advantage of bulk rates, there were no payments to the mail-out provider over the last year.

This year, as council increased the number of communications it sends to members, it quickly became apparent what had happened. Services manager Donette Kingyens has informed me that council expects that this purchase should again allow them to continue to send out e-mail newsletters to the membership for the next two to three years. She notes that by purchasing in such large quantities, as was done in the past, they have kept costs to approximately $44 per mail-out to all 35,000 or so AUSU members.

Next, having provided the required notice for proposed changes to the elections policies last month, and having received no student concerns or suggestions, council quickly passed the four policies adjusting the AUSU elections procedures.

It was close to 5:00 p.m. when council voted to move in camera (which means that the public meeting becomes a private meeting to discuss confidential matters) for an item simply titled “Executive Honorarium.” I, and the one other student present were politely asked to leave the meeting until we were contacted again.

The in camera discussion took just over an hour, and by the time I received the email that it was over, council had completed a short break and was discussing a motion from the private session to confirm the current levels of executive honoraria (currently near $51,000 for the president and over $43,000 for each of the vice presidents) to end of the current executive term.

This motion was carried with councillors Kim Newsome, Tamra Ross, and Philip Kirkbride voting against.

A second motion sought to strike a committee tasked with examining executive honoraria and providing a report with recommendations for revised wages by March 1, 2016. The motion also specified that if council fails to reach a decision, the next executive will have honoraria reset back to the levels before the approximate 30% raise given in October of 2014, and the additional CPI increase they received on October of 2015, taking them back to just over $38,000 for the president and just under $33,000 for the vice-presidents. This motion passed unanimously.

A terms of reference had been created for the new “Executive Compensation Review Committee” and after some discussion, it was decided that this would be an ad hoc committee, only meeting for a few months. The committee will have up to five voting members, a non-voting member of the AUSU Executive, and the Executive Director, also as a non-voting member. Four councillors?Philip Kirkbride, Pierre Plamondon, Tamra Ross, and Kim Newsome?volunteered to be on the committee, leaving one space vacant. Council has decided to open up that space to a student, but you’d best hurry, as the committee has begun work and scheduling meetings already. You can find more information as to what the committee is expected to do here.

Following that came the information items and reports. It was reported that the AU Service and Response Times survey received some 900 responses, and they are now in the process of taking those results to the various faculty deans and university executives who have expressed interest in the results.

AUSU has also completed its annual consultation with the AU executive regarding tuition and other fee hikes. While the Alberta government has decreed that tuitions are to remain frozen this year, expenses for the university continue to grow, and the university has also noted a significant decrease in the amounts they’re taking in for extensions or extra exam fees. President Wasylyshyn noted that when the idea of new non-academic fees was floated, she spoke out strongly against raising any other student fees in any way, and the importance of finding other sources of revenue.

Finally, it was noted that AUSU has had, at this point, over 1,300 requests for the new planners, but had only ordered 500 with no plans to order any more (AUSU no longer produces the planner in-house, and must order the books from a supplier). Member suggestions from Facebook, such as setting up a pre-order form, are being looked at for next year.

The next meeting is now scheduled for February 11, at 4:30 p.m. MST. If You’re a member, You’re encouraged to attend by teleconference, listen in to the meeting, and have an opportunity at the end of the meeting to ask questions or get more information from your students’ council.

Karl graduated from AU’s Bachelor of Arts Program (with Great Distinction, he likes to brag) despite leaving most of his course work to the last month of his contract, every time. While not the most intelligent way to go about it, it did prepare him for the task of getting The Voice Magazine out every week.