This week, we have the council connection report that looked at the meeting where the changes to AUSU Bylaws were approved, as well as changes to the Referendums and Plebiscites policy. AUSU members now have no binding powers over the organization or AUSU Council, with the exception of being able to choose Council during elections?elections that are run according to the bylaws that are controlled by AUSU Council. It sometimes feels like I’m the only one who sees the danger here. Even though this Council assuredly has only the best of intentions, can it be said that the next one will? Or the one after that? Eventually we are going to get a Council that has serious issues. It happened with the last Council that was down to only five members at one point. It has happened to previous councils in AUSU’s history, and, at some point in the future, it will happen again. That’s just the nature of trying to productively group together nine people who the only thing they may have in common is wanting to be on AUSU Council.
For most groups, there are other controls they need to worry about. AU’s governing council needs to worry about the constant scrutiny from the staff and faculty of AU, and needs to maintain working relationships with them. The government needs to worry about opposition members and media reporting on them. Other student organizations need to worry about their students, as well as media attention, as the grouping of their students on campus makes it easy to generate attention to an issue, as well as providing a group of people that is sizeable enough to attract media attention when they act en masse. They also have larger student councils, making it harder for a few bad seeds to take over.
But AUSU has none of those controls. It does not need to maintain any sort of working relationship with students. There is no opposition party to bring problems to light, and our student body is so diverse and spread out that our ability to attract significant media attention to the issues of a student council is non-existent. All we have is our ability to vote, and the faith that, of the people we elect, more will be willing to stand for the students than themselves. Perhaps that’s a reasonable faith to have. But my fear is that it only needs to be wrong once. Then, a simple change to the bylaws to delay elections for another two, or five, or ten years is all a Council would need to do to give themselves easy money at students’ expense. I have to admit; it almost makes it tempting to run next time.
However, until then, I guess we’ll just have hold on to that faith. It’s all we’ve got.
In the meantime, this issue of The Voice Magazine brings you two Meeting the Minds columns. Students sent in a couple interviews with professors this week, and I thought, what’s the harm in running both? After all, not every student is in every course, so with two interviews, we’re more likely to be talking to a professor that you know. Here’s where you can find out some extra information about them or their tips to go further in what you do. Plus, we have a look at AUSU’s upcoming awards deadline, filling you in on what you need to know, and the Study Dude is providing more advice on putting together your thesis. Not to mention our usual bunch of reviews, advice, news, and humour all set up for your weekly hit of procrastination material. Enjoy the read!