Council Connection—September 15, 2022 Meeting

On September 15, 2022, at 5:32 PM Mountain Time, Karen Fletcher, President of AUSU, started, covering the usual items such as land acknowledgements and attendance.

During the agenda discussion, Advocacy Coordinator Duncan Wojtaszek advises postponing policy reviews; you need a mover and seconder to approve the agenda, then a member can move to table an agenda item until the next meeting, and the mover and seconder of the agenda could accept this as a friendly amendment.  Councillor Amber McDuffe inquired if we could move through the agenda items and table what Council does not get through.  Duncan states that this is germane but whatever is last on the agenda is likely not going to be tabled, which means bringing it back in the next meeting, as that includes the question-and-answer period.  It is interesting to learn how these processes work and how the Council manages the time in the meetings.

The Council then moved through the regular business, approving the agenda, previous minutes, and action items unopposed.  Karen moved to postpone the position policies to allow people more time to read through these policies, as they’d discussed earlier, and this motion passed unanimously.


The first significant item to be discussed is a motion to change membership policies for member representatives on AUSU committees.  The most considerable change is to allow non-councillors serving on a committee to be eligible for AUSU scholarships, bursaries, and awards as they are currently not.  It was noted that this change stems from a procedural change, previously, students’ names were used for the application, but they now use the student’s ID, so there is little danger of bias or favoritism.

Other changes discussed were changing member removal processes from AUSU committees to an automatic removal with no tribunal and how membership applications are reviewed.  Amber suggested that applications be evaluated with the same process as awards committees review applications, allowing the Council to review applications ahead of time and select their top applicants.  This seemed to be met with general agreement though it was noted this would take up more councillor time.

Council then proposed changing the process by which Indigenous Circle members are selected.  The current process had self-identifying indigenous students voting in new members; this process was chosen to ensure the circle was reflective of Indigenous students and prevent oppression; however, because the circle only consists of two members, Council is proposing it returns to the previous model of Council appointing members.  In this process, the Executive Committee will review all applications, consult with members of the Indigenous Circle, and provide their recommendations to the Council to ensure the Indigenous Circle continues to exist and not overextend the only two members.  Once the Indigenous Circle has sufficient membership, the process can change to ensure the committee is represented by Indigenous students.

Council voted to approve these changes unanimously with an action item for the discussed revisions.


An essential task of this meeting was to approve the budget for Oct 1.  The critical discussion on the budget was regarding the $28,000 allocated for an in-person retreat.  Amber brought up concerns about spending such a large portion of the budget on an in-person retreat when other parts of the budget suffered from cuts due to declining enrollment, especially when you consider that the AUSU council is an online organization representing students of an online institution.

There were dissenting voices from many councillors, many adding in suggestions to make the retreat more cost-effective or voicing concerns on how to implement a virtual retreat while preventing “Zoom fatigue” and accommodating schedules so all councillors can be involved.

This issue was hotly contested, and it was noted by some councillors that they would not be able to vote in favor of the budget if these issues weren’t resolved; Jodi advised they could approve this budget and always reallocate funds later, for example, if they cancel the in-person retreat.  The budget was put to the vote, and the motion passed nearly unanimously, with only Councillor McDuffe voting against, and an action item was created to review and discuss alternative plans for the retreat.

As AU is an online university, insisting on spending a large part of the budget on an in-person retreat does not seem to align with the experience of the very students the union represents.  It will be interesting to see how Council addresses these concerns and, ultimately, if they decide to proceed with the in-person retreat.

Future Advocacy

Council discussed the pros and cons of students being able to use Open Educational Resources (OERs), which are publications accessible for free by public domain in place of textbooks by Pearson or Nelson.  There are concerns about OERs having outdated information or affecting the standing of some programs that require recognition from occupational regulatory agencies.  Council amended the work plan to clarify the goal is to advocate for students to be able to choose between e-texts, physical texts or OERs, which will give students more choices and reduce costs.  A survey or town hall may be held to discuss this further in the future.

A priority for AUSU in the 2022-2023 year will be advocating for better student health services, including reviewing Homewood health.  Some suggestions councillors mentioned included Homewood having more employees with diverse backgrounds so students can speak with someone with their shared lived experience.  Also, Homewood health only allows you to access services over the phone, even if services are in their local area; Council will be advocating for more accessibility options like in-person sessions.

AUSU plans to advocate to ensure all programs are reviewed every four years to ensure students are receiving education to the current standard and information is updated.

They will be writing to the Canadian Alliance of Students Associations (CASA) to ask the Federal Government to expand the log-in program, so you do not need to bank with the “Big Six” (the six large banks in Canada) to access federal student loans.

Awards Programming

There were many details discussed regarding the awards programs, such as who approves emergency bursaries and the accessibility of year-round bursaries during award season.

Council will be looking into options on how students can submit video applications, as some students may not have a YouTube account; one suggestion was to allow students to submit the video on any social media platform.  Others noted that some students might not want to share their social media account publicly.  Council will be looking into whether they can have an option for applicants to upload a video directly to their website as part of the application.  Another change is to allow councillors to ask applicants for more information; they will provide students with five business days to submit the requested information.

It was also noted that AUSU and AU have an agreement to pilot an Indigenous Student Award program to run in AU’s January award cycle.  To allow Indigenous Circle members to be eligible to apply for this award, it will not be awarded through the AUSU awards committee.  Instead, AU will choose the recipient.  After one year, the Council will vote on whether to make this a permanent award.

Amber requested that the agreement for this award with AU be amended to have two officers of the exec committee as the signing authority instead of the Executive Director to better reflect that the organization is being run by the students.  Concerns were brought forth that this could delay the implementation of the agreement and does not significantly change the document, and therefore is not necessary.  Amber put forth a motion to amend the document, but the motion failed when put to the vote; the original motion to approve this agreement passed.

The meeting wrapped up with councillors submitting their reports as presented and sharing acknowledgements.  The next meeting is tomorrow, October 20, 2022.  But if you’re interested in seeing what came of those action items, there’s still time to get involved.  Contact and let them know you’d like to attend!