All Councillors were in attendance, with the exceptions of Councillors Darcie Fleming and Kathryn Hadden. Also in attendance were The Voice’s Managing Editor Karl Low, Meeting Reporter Natalia Iwanek, as well as students Mitch and Mark.
President Natasha Donahue began the meeting with the Land Acknowledgement, followed by introductions by new Council and observers.
Natasha discussed the Annual Report, which provided a “year at glance.” She revealed that this year’s AU student demographics, with a majority from Alberta and Ontario, has been a trend for some time. Stating that “this fiscal year was really great,” Natasha mentioned the success of AUSU’s Open Mic Podcast, former AUSU President Brandon Simmons’ “Message from the President,” last year’s Council Retreat, as well as the Executive Retreat, which allowed members “to look at the year ahead and team build.”
Next, Natasha described AUSU’s participation in the recent federal election. The “Get Out the Vote” campaign with the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) was a success, with students from every province voting. The Report revealed that 1,500 AU students pledged to vote during the election, the highest engagement to date.
Natasha spoke briefly about the joint advocacy effort with other Canadian student unions on behalf of Ontario students, which the report called “monumental in getting changes made to the Student Choice Initiative.”
Along with CASA, AUSU had brought the needs of distance students to the Canadian government. The report mentioned meetings with MPs and Senators, House of Commons and Senate Finance Committee presentations, and the creation of a grace-free period for student loans.
Additionally, this past year, AUSU was able to expand the awards and bursary program, with the report revealing an additional $4,600 funds added this year. In total, AUSU awarded $65,645 to members.
Other recent changes include LinkedIn Learning, which is now available free to AUSU members, replacing Lynda.com. Students can sign up to access 10,000+ online courses taught by industry professionals.
Natasha also briefly mentioned that AUSU developed a new logo and website, as well 60,982 visits made to The Voice website over the past year. In addition, the report revealed that the AU app was used 45,922 times.
Highlights of the report included AUSU advocacy on behalf of Indigenous students, as AUSU attended the inaugural CASA Indigenous conference to address barriers faced by Indigenous people. Results included the facilitation of policy developments for an inclusive post-secondary system, as well as dialogue with AU regarding the creation of an Indigenous Student Circle.
Additional highlights of the report included a review of AU’s unconventional demographics. AU receives 38,000 unique undergraduate students annually, with an average of 26,000 being members during any given month. The average age of AUSU members is 30.9, with 65% women, 68% caring for dependents, 73% working, and 66% who are the first in the family to earn a degree.
Executive Director Jodi Campbell stated that AUSU started the year with a balanced budget and got great deal done, including many new projects. He stated, “AUSU is financially healthy,” noting that enrollment spiked unexpectedly for AU, which meant a corresponding increase in revenue for AUSU. Jodi also mentioned that the audit process, which took place in the fall and was approved in January, went well. 2019 was a clean audit.
Natasha briefly discussed bylaw changes, including those making Council eligibility requirements more flexible for students. Previously students were required to be enrolled in courses for 2/3 of the year, or eight months with four months off, as well as maintaining a minimum GPA. The changes now stipulate that Council members must not be on academic probation.
The Report also revealed plans for this upcoming year, which include the launch of a new student bursary, more AUSU Open Mic Podcasts and YouTube videos, increased tuition advocacy, increased Indigenous student support advocacy, as well as improved career services for members.
With no questions posed during the Question and Answer period, the meeting concluded at 5:32 MT. The next AUSU monthly meeting will tentatively take place on May 20, 2020 at 6:30 pm MT. As AUSU members, AU students are encourage to attend council meetings via teleconference. Details can be found on the AUSU website.