On Student Engagement

As part of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Ad Hoc Committee for finalizing the structure of an FHSS-appropriate instructional model emphasizing increased presence for students and instructors, the Committee knew it was very important for students to give their input on this topic. We scheduled this input session for March 30th and it was put on social media well over one week before the meeting was to be held.

During the scheduled meeting, out of the thousands of members of AUSU and students of AU, the attendance was truly dismal. Aside from the members of the Faculty, including Dean Veronica Thompson who chaired the meeting, and some members of the Ad Hoc Committee including myself; the only other people on the call were: Scott Jacobsen (Scott is also a newly elected AUSU Councillor who is extremely engaged with AUSU and AU), and a BComm Student that is an actual employee of AU. That’s it, that’s all. Two people outside of the committee that called in.

This is terribly disappointing but not surprising. Member engagement is seriously low. Students NEED to understand that it’s up to them to be engaged with AU and AUSU, and provide their extremely valuable input. Students need to know that it’s up to them to make their university the best online university anywhere and they need to be part of the university’s plan going forward. They need to participate!

Why aren’t students more engaged with AU? Or AUSU for that matter? Is it because it’s an online institution and they don’t feel the need to be more involved because it’s a different structural model than traditional universities? That it will simply take care of itself? I’d like to know. I’m hoping that AUSU members will be more engaged with AU and AUSU. After all, students pay good money for their education and have the right to have their say about AU’s future.

Food for thought for the new council going forward and an opinion from the outgoing VPEX.


Colleen M. Doucette
Vice President, External and Student Affairs
Athabasca University Students’ Union

(Ed: Lots of students have exams at the end of the month.)

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