The AUSU Council Meeting for July 11, 2017 started soon after 5:30pm. President Shawna Wasylyshyn was not present at this meeting, being on holidays, so Vice-President External, Julian Teterenko, chaired the meeting.
After the standard coming to order, approval of the agenda, minutes, and a review of any outstanding action items went by fairly quickly, bringing us to the first item of new business.
This piece was an interesting one, as AUSU has been approached by a company, CharterRX Inc., looking to sell pharmaceutical products to AUSU members through the Alliance Pharmacy website. Their offer is that they can sell these products cheaper than many students would be able to find at their local pharmacy, and AUSU Council would assist them by helping to market their service to students. Julian Teternko explained that the Executive group looked into their claims and verified that their prices generally were cheaper than other pharmacies they could access, but renegotiated with the company for a percentage return based on AU student sales. I asked what this percentage was, but was told that this could not be divulged under the terms of the contract. It was noted however, that this service will allow AUSU members to “fill their prescriptions from Alliance Pharmacy, and have them mailed to their homes fo rhte next buiness day (some remote areas may take longer). It will also provide a flat dispensing free of $7.00 and a reduced markup on all medications.” The motion proposed that AUSU council approve the agreement between CharterRX Inc. and AUSU regarding pharmacy services for AUSU members, and passed unanimously. AUSU will announce when the service is in operation for members.
The next item of business was for changes to the election policy. The changes, from what I can tell, do not significantly effect how the elections are run, other than providing a little more leeway for appeals to be considered, should they be brought forward. However, there was some significant discussion about whether it should be only the Executive who determines if a member remains in good-standing should they bring forward an appeal which was declared by an independent auditor to be frivolous. After a significant amount of discussion, it was concluded that the policy would be amended to refer to the current policy 4.08 about members in good standing, and that changes be made to that policy to ensure any use of the policy is reported to Council. It was also noted that for all policies or documents where changing them require notification to the membership, those changes should be announced through as many channels as AUSU has avaialable to them at the time. The resolution then passed unanimously.
At this point, it was about 6:00pm and Council moved to an in-Camera session for a discussion regarding Councillor attendance. The public meeting resumed at about 7pm, and it was noted that a motion to remove Andrew Grey for being absent from more than two Council meetings over the past year; with an absence on January 10, 2017, and from the Councillor retreat in June, as well being late during the October 13th meeting; had been considered by Council and was defeated. Given the length of time that the meeting had remained in Camera, it seems as if there had been some significant discussion over the matter.
This brought the meeting to the report stage. Most reports passed without comment, and are available on the AUSU website. But two items of note were brought forward. The first, that Jody Wattle, an AUSU member at large on the Membership Engagement and Communications Committee had resigned due to a lack of time to serve on the committee. The position had been opened up to Councillors first, but as none desired it, the seat was going to be opened back up to the general membership.
It was also noted that the Communication and Member Services Co-ordinators Reports indicated that there had been no graduates in June. This seemed odd, but it was confirmed that Athabasca University does not proceed with its normal graduation process in June as this is supplanted with the convocation ceremony.
There was also a question as to how many people had signed up for the new AUSU forums, and while the answer wasnt known, it was expected the number was quite low, somewhere around 20. Since then, the forums have been scaled back, losing some of the discussion areas that were reported on previously in The Voice Magazine. Specifically, the “Introductions”, “Course Discussions”, “Off-Topic Student Chat”, and “Questions for AUSU” sections have all been removed. On later questioning, AUSU has said that those sections were removed because they had not gone through any approval process of Council to be established. Personally, I question whether Council should bother itself with something that seems should be left for staff, unless it can be shown it really was not working best for the students. Given that there were some small conversations happening in a couple of those areas, however, it did seem to be working to some extent.
The meeting adjourned at 7:42 pm.