Editorial—The Early By-rd Gets the Work

The nomination period for candidates to run in an AUSU By-Election is now open, and will be until August 7, 2020. This By-election is a bit unusual, because it’s coming very early in the AUSU Council term.   AUSU Council currently runs a two year term, with the next election coming in the spring of 2022.  So getting on board now means you’ll have lots of time to not only figure out how things work, but actually have an effect on how AUSU lobbies for student priorities.

With the current UCP government in place in Alberta, this is going to be extremely important, and may involve having to make some hard choices about just how to prioritize where AUSU makes use of its resources for the best effect.  Should AUSU try a full court press against the current government downloading costs on to students and people looking to transition into new lines of work as oil in Alberta continues to struggle?  Or is that a waste of time, and instead AUSU should be devoting more resources into coming up with new and better ways to help students who are already in AU deal with those increased costs.

There is also, if we’re being honest, very likely to be a significant labour dispute over the coming AUSU Council term.  Hard decisions will need to be made there as well.  How does AUSU best serve the students in the event of work stoppages, how much public pressure (or advertising dollars) should they devote to helping one side or the other—or neither?

On top of that are all the regular considerations of AUSU as to the development of new programs, initiatives, and campaigns.  If you think you might have or want a serious say into how AUSU approaches these things, how the students union leverages your student union fees, then you should consider running in this by-election.

Over the course of the by-election, the Voice Magazine will not be running any articles by any confirmed candidate.  I’m saying this now because I’ve heard we may already have one regular writer throwing her hat into the ring, and I don’t want to give unfair advantage.  Also, I’ll be putting together my normal list of questions for the candidates to help students decide exactly who they want to be representing them and coming up with the answers to the issues that may arise over the next almost two years.

And while you may not think that student unions can make that much difference, I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes in the past.  A savvy student union can put forward proposals that governments latch on to and that can make a significant difference in student lives.  I have a feeling that that kind of savvy is going to be necessary this Council term, so this by-election is more important than usual.

Meanwhile, this week in The Voice Magazine, our feature article is an interview with two graduands, what do they think about the upcoming virtual convocation, and what advice do they have to help you get to your own?  Find out in our Convocation 2020: Interviews with Graduands article.  Plus, Barb Godin recounts her time in the Ontario Training Schools system, and what it did to her, and Barbara Lehtiniemi takes us along with her on a trip across the country by air.  What is air travel like during a pandemic?  Enjoy the read!