This week, the council meeting started off with a couple of audio complications. At the beginning of the meeting, some members (myself included) faced a lagging audio connection, but the Council once again handled it immediately.
Following an update on the action plan, the discussion proceeded to the upcoming June council retreat in Edmonton. The meeting will take place at the AUSU office in Edmonton on June 24ththrough 26th. Unfortunately, not all council members will be able to attend the in-person sessions, with a third of the councillors now indicating they will not be able to attend, but they were encouraged to review the agendas so to participate by teleconference. Also, the council is having a public AUSU council meeting in person in Edmonton on the 26th of June. Members are also able to join this public meeting via teleconference.
The first point of interest was an update on the civil suit against AUSU. For the purpose of confidentiality, the name of the individual who raised the law suit was not given. However, the individual has withdrawn the complaints against AUSU. President Wasylyshyn noted that the other council members should be aware of this particular individual as they would like to minimize putting AUSU at further risk.
The first motion on the agenda was the approval of a new committee member. All councillors voted on appointing Jody Waddle as the new member of the of the Member Engagement and Communications Committee (MEC). Jody’s term begins immediately and ends in spring 2017, when committee appointments are reviewed. So, congratulations to Jody!
A new policy regarding reinstating members not in good standing has been implemented. Previously, there was no defined procedure to return members to good standing. However, the new policy states members who are not in good standing as a result of a motion of council may make a request to be reinstated as a member in good standing. Members not in good standing are required to fill out a Return to Good Standing Request Form and submit it to the AUSU office. Many councillors encouraged and were happy about this new policy. I think this policy is needed as it allows members to revaluate themselves, and it is good to give people a second chance.
An addition was made to the policy regarding student services, and it suggests that students be paid for internships. The councillors discussed how paid co-op programs and internships are important tools for students to gain hands-on experience in their field of specialization and to cross over into full-time employment. I think that this is a great addition to the policy. Students need to gain experience, and most of the students are not finically stable; therefore, paying students for internships can significantly help them start their career.
All of the motions passed unanimously, and generally with little discussion beyond the explanation of the new policies and changes.
President Wasylyshyn stated that the students are concerned about the retro-active changes being applied to the post-LPN nursing program. AUSU has met with Dr. Margaret Edwards, Dean of the Faculty of Health Disciplines in person on May 17. They heard directly from her perspective, the reasons for the changes and the implementation of them. However, AUSU members conveyed to her that while they don’t disagree that the changes were needed, they don’t feel that applying them retroactively is necessary. Also, AUSU council confirmed that they would continue to advocate against any retroactive changes across the board.
During the council meeting, AUSU’s Vice President, Kim Newsome, also voiced her concerns regarding the retroactive changes being applied to the post-LPN nursing program. She does not think it is fair for the students. These changes could drive students to give up on their program, or spend more money and time towards finishing the program.
In the AUSU council meeting it was noted that the post-LPN nursing program is very competitive, and students are already under so much pressure to finish. Many of these students are working, have a family, or they are busy travelling. They need to be able to focus on finishing their program without any further pressure and complications. The Voice Magazine is looking into gathering more information about the changes that could occur, and further coverage will be provided.
The Finance Committee has finally made it possible to access their financial information and activities on the AUSU website. In my opinion, this is a very convenient resource for students. I believe that posting monthly financial statements and annual budgets online will increase transparency to the memberships.
The Awards Committee report stated that this year AUSU has received around 250 applicants. This number of applicants is the highest AUSU has received over any previous year. The councillors are proud of all the hard work and dedication the students have put into their studies to be eligible to receive the awards.
Finally came the question and answer period. At first, no one was asking any questions, until the editor of The Voice Magazine inquired about the changes that are being implement to the post-LPN nursing program. Specifically, he was asking about the movement in GPA changes. The change requires that all practicum students receive a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in the courses taken through Athabasca University and university transfer courses. This was not required previously. However, these changes will most likely be in affect in 2017. Nonetheless, I think these changes could postpone the time of graduation for many students. As we receive more information, we will keep you posted about the retroactive changes that could be applied to faculty of Health Disciplines.
With that, at about 6pm, the meeting was officially adjourned. The councillors thanked one another and some even said “good work.”