Doing Your Student Duty

Why should you take 90 minutes out of your busy life to attend AUSU’s Annual General Meeting May 23? You pay your membership fees every time you enrol in an AU undergraduate course. Does your obligation end there?

Membership in AUSU has benefits (advocacy, scholarships, study aids, a superb weekly student magazine) but also carries obligations. While these obligations are not spelled out in AUSU’s bylaws, and nobody is going to force students to honour them, the obligations still carry a lot of weight.

What are your duties as an AUSU member (and if you’re enrolled in an undergraduate course, you’re most likely a member)?

The Duty to Vote. AUSU is governed by a council. Councillors are elected by member vote every two years (more often if vacancies on council require a by-election.) Who sits on AUSU council to represent students is up to you.

The Duty to Be Informed. What AUSU does affects all AU students. Members of AUSU’s council have seats at the table at AU’s Board of Governors and other AU committees. What is AUSU telling AU at these meetings? AUSU took in over $600,000 in student fees in 2016, and they’re holding over $1 million in cash and equivalents. What are they doing with all that money? Who’s keeping an eye on AUSU council if you’re not?

The Duty to Hold AUSU Council Accountable. The elected members of AUSU council have a duty to each student member?duties which are enshrined in AUSU’s bylaws. Everything that councillors do on behalf of AUSU (and therefore its members) is?or should be?open to scrutiny. Members have only a few formal opportunities to makes themselves heard, to ask questions, and to get answers. The AGM is one of those opportunities.

During the AGM, which students can connect to online or by phone, members have the right to vote on any motion presented. Members can also present motions, within guidelines (see the meeting agenda for details.) Motions made by members at the 2015 AGM, for example, prompted AUSU council to undertake two in-depth reviews, one of which resulted in the roll-back of executive councillor wage hikes.

Members will also have the opportunity to ask questions directly of council toward the end of the meeting. While students can contact AUSU council at any time with concerns about council activities, the AGM is an ideal opportunity to ask questions relating to the financial statements and the Annual Report, both of which are formally presented at the meeting. If you have concerns about anything council is doing or spending, the AGM is the perfect time to ask questions?and get answers.

AUSU’s Annual General Meeting will be held Tuesday, May 23, from 5:30 pm to approximately 7:00 pm (MDT.) The agenda is available at: and you can download a copy of AUSU’s 2017 Annual Report at

Pre-registration is not necessary, but preferable. As a bonus to attendees, those who RSVP for the meeting to and also attend the meeting, will receive free study tools from AUSU. Do it for duty or free stuff, but just do it.

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario.