There’s only a few hours left to get your nomination in if you intend to run for AUSU Council. If you’re a current student and a Voice reader, I encourage you to put your hat in, you’re probably already better informed about many of the issues AUSU Council is dealing with than many of the students.
A lot of people think, “student council sounds like a kid’s job,” but when you’re dealing with a post-secondary institution the size of Athabasca University, it’s anything but that. You’ll have the opportunity to be dealing with high level issues on everything from human rights, dealing directly with government ministers, dealing with outside organizations, and even dealing with media (which, most often, means me) this is all great stuff to be able to take into your next interview, whether it’s for a new job, or just making the case to your current boss that you can handle more responsibility (and pay).
On the flip side, because it is a “students’ council”, you’ll find that all these groups tend to give you a little more leeway. You can get away with perhaps not seeming as professional or experienced at it as you may like, simply because you are part of a students council, so expectations are lower. And if you are as professional as they find others in their regular dealings, it just stands out all the more. In many ways, it’s a no lose situation when it comes to those things.
Of course, nothing ever comes for free. It will take some time, though AUSU, like AU, has gone to significant lengths to make it flexible for whatever your schedule is. It will expose you to having to deal with groups, which means you can run into group dynamics that are a problem. And, I have to caution you in advance, you will not be successful in absolutely everything you try to do. You have to be willing to push at an issue knowing that there’s little chance of success, and being okay if the students’ position fails to come to fruition. But you have to be willing to do that because sometimes it does. I remember a long time ago when the PC government was seeking to change tuition regulation. Many student unions were pushing for a freeze. The universities were pushing for a free-for-all. We’d heard the government was leaning toward the universities’ point of view. AUSU brought forward an alternative of a cap of CPI+1%. We were successful, even though we were sure it was going to be rejected. It wasn’t as good as a freeze for students, but a lot better than no regulation at all.
It felt like we’d stood up to a Goliath with only a sling and a hope. And while that doesn’t always happen, knowing that, at least that time, we’d made a significant difference was a feeling like no other.
So if you think you’ve got some good ideas for how to benefit students? Run for election. If you think you’ll bring a unique perspective to AUSU? Run for election. If you think you want to support your fellow students, and thus yourself? Run for election. And if you just have a hankering to see how the sausage of politics and education is made? You could do worse than to get a position on AUSU. Enjoy the read!