The AUSU meeting on September 19, 2019 began a minute or two after 6:30pm but proceeded in a swift manner. Although the meeting wasn’t longer than an hour, there was plenty of new information shared and inspiration to initiate change . Councillors Darcie Fleming, Amanda Lipinski, and Josh Ryan were noted as absent with regrets, and it was acknowledged that we are on and work on the traditional lands of the Indigenous Peoples (Inuit, First Nations, Metis) of Canada.
The approval of the agenda and the meeting minutes from August, 2019, was unanimous. Council quickly moved to the new business, where they approved an updated copy of Policy 7.02 Member Services: Scholarships, Awards, and Bursaries Program. Changes include that any unused funds will be placed in an unrestricted reserve, which, in turn, will help the committee to fund a new award as needed. It was suggested that they may use these unused funds to create more emergency bursaries in the future. Before the motion was unanimously approved, it was also discussed that awards paid directly to students are paid by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), the only exception will be in the event a student lives outside of Canada, and therefore will be paid by cheque.
Councillor Mark Teeninga pointed out that the policies in place for the travel bursary contain wording that conflicts with this policy revision. The travel bursary is in place for those who need to travel for convocation, as well as university labs, practicums, on-site courses or sometimes academic conferences if they’re important to the education of a student. To receive this bursary for convocation the student must provide proof that they have been invited to attend. The conflict was that the awards policy noted that only current AU students could apply for awards, but some students may only receive their invitation well after their courses are completed and they are no longer an AU student. Staff noted that their current procedures allow for this but Teeninga stressed to the council that the conflicting language of the policy revision and the Travel Bursary must somehow be addressed, which council and the Executive agreed to do.
Following the discussion of the policy revisions, a unanimous decision was passed in regard to the individuals appointed to the Student Advisory Committee. This is the second time the committee has been implemented, with five reoccurring members, each recommended by the Executive. The members who were appointed to the committee include: Christopher Hinbest, Dakota Soares, Mark Toews, Michele Mrkvan, Landon King, Rebecca Hayward, Stacey Hutchins, Ian Stewart, Jennifer Bouley, and Raphael Ugobe Okechuk.
It was noted that the individuals selected were excellent candidates who showed much initiative, and that overall the selection was difficult as there were many great candidates. Based on their applications, members of the Executive felt that many of these people would have been excellent as member on council. President Brandon Simmons discussed the possibility of implementing a process for the future in which these people can put their name forward for council. A thank-you is extended by Council to all of those who put their name forward, and those selected will be receiving emails from staff and getting an AUSU email address. Also, an orientation and a teleconference would be arranged for the Student Advisory Committee to become acquainted.
President Simmons went on to confirm that the Minister of Advanced Education Critic has agreed to appear on an episode of the AUSU podcast. Vice President Natasha further reported that a meeting with the Minister of Advanced Education Critic had been concluded, and a commitment to write a letter for AUSU’s advocacy asks to the government minister has been established. The AUSU podcast was discussed with much excitement, as the podcast is expanding and doing well. At the time of this meeting, six individuals were to appear on the podcast, as well as many students expressing their reasons for voting.
To encourage students to pledge to vote, a new contest has been implemented. Students are automatically entered to win a contest with a grand prize of an undergraduate class when they pledge to vote on CASA with AU as their school. It is a goal of AUSU’s to have a student from every province in Canada pledge to vote.
President Simmons also extended congratulations to Duncan Wojtaszek, the Governance and Advocacy Coordinator, for managing a podcast with people calling in from all over Canada as well as people coming in and out of the office. He noted it would have been a hectic environment to record a podcast. Natasha was also congratulated on managing the social media and photographs for the Get Out the Vote campaign. At the time of this meeting, there were 344 pledges. This drastically surpassed many of AUSU’s SU colleagues, who have been running the campaign for awhile. To pledge to vote, check out getouttovote.ca. This is an easy way to possibly win a free undergraduate course!
The meeting concluded not long after the discussion of the pledge to vote contest. The next meeting will be held on October 17th, 2019 at 6:30 pm MDT.