Editorial – Eventual Apologies

One of the things that people at the recent town hall talked about was finding ways for AU to engage and communicate with students. I suggest that making an effort might be a good start.

For instance, there will be a second presentation from AU’s Writer in Residence, John Vaillant. If you missed the first one, That’s a shame because the presentation itself was extremely interesting (the Q&A period after, perhaps not as much). But the problem is that I only found out about that this morning, Friday, April 21, and the presentation will be happening today, Friday, April 21, at 3pm. By the time you read this the opportunity will probably already be gone. Our apologies for not finding out about it sooner.

I don’t like that. We know that AU already makes it difficult for students to find out what’s going on at AU, That’s why we run the events column, to try to bring these things out to you. Unfortunately, AU doesn’t like to share what It’s doing. The only announcement you can find for this activity on AU’s site is on the page for the Writer-in-Residence. No wider distribution was made, not even to AU’s own news page. This might seem reasonable at first blush, but then you start to look at how many of these individual departments there are. The Write Site, the Math Site, Writer-in-Residence, IT Help Desk, Library Services, TEKRI, the Athabasca River Basin Research Institute, AU Press, are just a few among many others, there is no single page that will give you a complete listing of every service or department that Athabasca University has. You can find a partial one at http://www.athabascau.ca/aboutau/offices/, but That’s not the entire list, because that doesn’t touch the faculties or centres. If you want that, you’ll have to go to http://www.athabascau.ca/aboutau/faculties/. But even then you haven’t found everything AU has to offer, as there are student resources that you won’t find anywhere in AboutAU, as there is yet another link to be followed that will take you to http://www.athabascau.ca/students/student-services/. Yet the Writer-in-Residence can’t be found on any of those three pages. No, to find AU’s Writer-in-Residence, you have to dig into the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science, where you’ll finally find a link to his site, and only there will you find the news of this event.

It baffles me, with how much money, time, and effort that AU has put into developing its website to be user-friendly, that some of the things it could use to attract students (like, hey, we have a published author who is doing free talks about writing, with refreshments served if you happen to attend in person) are not just not publicized, but almost actively buried in the depths. Personally, I would think that if you wanted to find out what events are happening at AU, you might consider going to the events page that AU has: http://news.athabascau.ca/events/ but you’d be wasting your time if you did, as there’s absolutely nothing listed there, not even convocation for goodness sakes. What, is there some reason they’re not entirely sure if they’ll be running it yet, so don’t want to announce it? What’s the point of having the page if they’re not going to use it for anything?

If Athabasca University wants to better engage students, perhaps it should consider taking the first steps to do so, and at least make sure that any events that might engage students are placed in a position people can find them. Since they don’t provide that service, we try to do so here, but, apparently, even we’re not good enough sleuths to find all that they hide. Our apologies, and we’ll try to do better in the future.

In the meantime, our feature is some advice for those going to convocation, assuming It’s happening, of course. Enjoy the read!

P.S. If you didn’t already know, The Voice Magazine has a Facebook page and a twitter feed if You’re into that kind of thing!