Editorial—Happy 30th to AUSU

The Athabasca University Students Union is celebrating it’s 30th year, with an in person celebration happening at a pub in West Edmonton Mall, as well as some online events that you can find out more about on the AUSU site.  It’s been an eventful ride for the group, which initially started off having been granted an office inside the Edmonton office of AU, an office space that as budget pressures mounted for AU, slowly ended up shrinking until eventually AUSU found its own office space, and, further on from that, discarded the idea of a specific physical office space altogether, operating now as an almost entirely virtual organization.

What started as a council of nine students gathered around an AU conference table in Edmonton with one staff member morphed into three executives and the staff member in Edmonton working by conference call with the six student councillors around the province, supplemented by email, to a couple of staff in an Edmonton office supervised by a director in another city primarily through Skype and email, supplemented by phone conferences, with an executive group across the province and country, then consolidating the executive and staff back into the physical office, until it reached it’s current form: an expanded council of thirteen, with multiple sub-groups consisting of students-at-large and councillors, four executives scattered around the country and the staff all physically dispersed, operating through whatever means  happen to work best for the task, whether phone or video conferencing, or occasionally physical get-togethers.

And the services provided directly to students through-out that time has waxed and waned, however, common to all of them was a focus on trying to keep the students forefront in mind through the various levels of bureaucracy at AU and the government.

And, being entirely honest, I think this group is doing a better job of it than many.  I was fortunate during my term as an AUSU executive that the province was undergoing a re-evaluation of how to regulate university tuition.  This gave the AUSU council of my time a great opportunity to get ourselves heard at government, and we did, presenting a counter-proposal to the universities’ proposal of no tuition regulation and the larger student union communities’ proposal of no tuition increases allowed at all (which I don’t believe would ever have been accepted).  AUSU of then proposed tuition legislation which tied tuition increases to CPI, which is what the government eventually did, and what remains in place to this day.   That was my big win, but in hindsight, I think my council could have done more to directly support and connect with students while it was doing this.  That’s one area where I think the current council is doing very well.  So kudos to them for that.

All of which is to say that you should take advantage of the events they’re running.  You paid for it, after all, just like you’ve paid for the Voice through your AUSU Membership fees.  Make use of that and make a connection while you’re at it.   You may find it’s more rewarding than you expect.

Meanwhile, be sure in this issue to check out our featured student interview, as well as our newest writer, Elisa Neven-Pugh who’s coming to The Voice with an agenda that she lays out in her first article.  I look forward to seeing how it goes.

Plus we’ve got recipes, advice, news, scholarships, thoughtful reflections and more!  Enjoy the read.