All Councillors were in attendance, with the exception of Councillor Ian Stewart. Also in attendance were The Voice’s Managing Editor Karl Low and Council Meeting Reporter Natalia Iwanek.
Key items included COVID-19, Council Reports, and the Finance Committee member appointment.
Agenda and Minutes
President Natasha Donahue called the meeting to order at 6:34 pm MT. The agenda and all minutes were accepted without issue.
Natasha continued with a Review of Action Items, none of which were outstanding.
Natasha began with amendments to Policy 2.13 Code of Ethics, in particular Section 01 concerned with conflict of interest, as well as Section 11. The motion carried unanimously, with a move by Councillor Josh Ryan and a second by VPFA Monique Durette.
Next, Natasha spoke of the quality applications received for the vacant Finance Committee position, with a breakout room created for Karl and Natalia while Councillors reviewed the applications. At 7:22 pm MT, Councillors unanimously appointed Mark Toews as voting member, with a move by Josh and a second by Monique. Mel Marisol was appointed voting member to the MEC Committee for a third term with a move by VPEX Stacey Hutchings and a second by Councillor Regan Johnson.
Next, the motion to approve the additional allocation of $10,000 from the AUSU reserve to the Computer Bursary for the 2019-2020 fiscal year was carried unanimously, with a move by Natasha and a second by Regan. This was done to allow AUSU the room to provide more computers for students, since, with the advent of COVID-19, they are seeing an increase in the number of applications for the bursary.
The motion to approve the allocation of up to $5,000 from the AUSU reserve to ProctorU for the 2019-2020 fiscal year was carried unanimously as well, with a move by Stacey and a second by Josh. Natasha revealed that this will purchase approximately 100 ProctorU codes, which will be awarded to select students after the completion of a survey. Executive Director Jodi Campbell stated that “This is a kind of win-win initiative in some ways,” as it will allow AUSU to garner information about students’ experiences during COVID-19 and continually adapt to student needs. During the March ProctorU giveaway, AUSU experienced “overwhelming engagement” with about 850 applications, to which approximately 30 more have trickled in.
Next, Natasha continued with an update to the Ad Hoc Indigenous Representation Committee, mentioning that the Policy had taken more time than anticipated. The tentative date to fill seats, with three to five Councillors, the Executive Director and coordinator, and up to one member at large, is the upcoming June Council meeting. According to the report, the role of this Committee will be “to help engage Indigenous students at Athabasca University in a respectful, robust, and sustainable way in order to work toward an organizational Indigenization strategy.” In addition, it is hoped that AUSU will be able to send members to CASA as Indigenous representatives on a federal level. Jodi mentioned that AUSU are often leaders and this type of initiative is not often seen in other student unions. Councillor Darcie Fleming was “thrilled as a Métis person” at the thought of bringing forward an Indigenous perspective.
Natasha continued with the President Report, mentioning the outreach she and Stacey had done with approximately 75 to 80% of CASA delegates, which will provide a foundation for the year ahead. In addition, she mentioned former President Brandon Simmons’ Outgoing Report, which focused on the transition period and COVID-19 challenges.
Stacey’s VPEX Report focused on the transition, as well as making sure that the government understands AU’s differences from traditional brick and mortar post-secondary institutions. She briefly discussed an e-meeting with the Ministry of Advanced Education and the Alberta government’s plans to move ahead with the Alberta 2030 Plan, as well as Outcome-Based Funding (or performance-based as it is more commonly known) in post-secondary education.
Darcie questioned if the government will be taking a second look since the transition to online education, to which Stacey replied that the province is going ahead with performance-based funding. However, instead of the original ten metrics that institutions were going to have to meet, there is now only one metric, that of cost-containment, expected to be put into place.
Monique’s VPFA Report was next, as she mentioned her job shadowing experience with Stacey, as well as a brief mention of the Finance Committee Report, which did not meet in April.
Next Councillor Katy Lowe’s Awards Committee Report began with a mention of the $10,000 Computer Bursary allocation, which the Report reveals increased remaining funds to $14,031.49. Jodi praised the Committee of being able to process nine Computer Bursaries over the past month, as a significant amount of work to be taking on, especially as a first task.
Stacey continued with the Member Engagement and Communications Committee Report, stating that they created six YouTube Videos and two Podcasts in April and will soon launch a virtual student social with online games, trivia, and prizes. The student social meetings will take place through Zoom on Saturday May 30, 2020 and Thursday June 4, 2020 at 6 pm MT. Students are asked to RVSP by midnight on May 29, 2020 and June 3, 2020, respectively at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is available on the AUSU website.
Jodi mentioned that Episode 25 of the AUSU Podcast, “We Asked…He Answered…AU Uncovered,” with AU Registrar Richard MacLeod was “phenomenal” and “provided great info.” For students interested in interviews with The Voice Managing Editor Karl Low and regular contributor and former VPFA Brittany Daigle, check out Episode 28: “The Voice Magazine – Telling AU Stories since 1998!”. Students can access additional Podcasts on the AUSU website.
Communications and Member Services Coordinator Donette Kingyens continued with the Communications and Member Services Report stating that 242 applications had been received during the recent AUSU award cycle, as well as a quadruple increase in LinkedIn applications, as a result of custom invites. In addition, this year’s AUGSA Graduate Student Research Conference, which will be virtual and free, will allow undergraduates to attend as well. The 2020 call for abstracts opens soon, with the Conference scheduled for October 16 and 17, 2020.
Next Meeting and Adjournment
With no questions, the meeting was officially adjourned at 8:09 pm MT. The next meeting will take place on June 17, 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.