As the chair of the meeting, President Karen Fletcher called the meeting to order on March 16th, 2023, reminding everyone that Executive Director (ED) Jodi Campbell is the accessibility officer and to contact him if they require assistance. President Fletcher explained that accessibility assistance does not always have to be related to a disability; if you need help with anything that could allow you to fully participate in the meeting, ED Campbell will try to make those allowances.
Once the land acknowledgement was read, President Fletcher spoke about how in school, she did not learn about the indigenous geography, and she has since learned much more and finds it interesting. Calling for attendance, it was noted that Vice President External and Indigenous Circle Representative Trishtina Godoy-Contois, and Councillor Amber McDuffe were absent from the meeting.
Vice President of Finance and Administration Dur-E-NajafSyed (VPFA) motioned to amend the agenda to add the AUSU investment guidelines. President Fletcher suggested it be added prior to the annual report. This amendment passed unanimously.
During the approval of the meeting minutes, President Fletcher noted that they were approving a corrected version. Councillor Allie Wojtaszek abstained, and the motion carried.
Since the last meeting, the Council has arranged a workshop to work on the AUSU bylaws and developed the terms of reference for a policy committee which will come to the Council on April 20th. ED Campbell has scheduled a meeting in April with Alberta Blue Cross to discuss options for the health and dental packages and the possibility of options for Athabasca University (AU) students.
Executive Work Plan
VPFA Syed detailed the two most substantive changes to the Executive Work Plan policy. In previous years, councillors were assigned to projects and goals informally, but they have chosen to change the policy to specify which councillors will be responsible for each project and goal within the executive work plan. The other change was the removal of the “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goals in the work plan; the reasoning behind this is that not everything they work toward can be measured effectively. Karen gave an example “How do we measure ‘advocate to make sure online university is included at the provincial advocacy organization’? We are not going to be like, ‘Karen must bring this up once at a meeting,’ right? So it’s just hard to measure.”
Though Councillor McDuffe was not present at this meeting, she had left comments to be discussed within the workplan section discussing elections and timelines. Considering how elections are said to occur during the fourth quarter, Amber wondered if this should be changed to signify that EC elections happen after new members are voted in. Governance Advisor Duncan Wojtaszek noted he believed the policy as it stands makes it clear that it is only incoming councillors who vote; this policy is the guide for the ED on when elections happen. This makes it clear that elections happen in February, March, and April. President Fletcher pointed out that, with council terms being two years, the 4th quarter is actually the last 6th month period, so Karen suggests they amend the clause to state that both council and Executive Council elections are conducted between Feb and April, after the new members are elected in a general election.
Getting back to the most significant change to the work plan policy, President Fletcher explained that before she was on council, each council member would create their own individual work plan, but it was hard to see how they all fit together, so now instead of having multiple work plans, we have one work plan so everyone can see how the pieces work together but still assign responsibilities for each part.
Ratification of the email vote on the AUSU EDI Audit
Council voted via email on March 7th, 2023, to approve the AUSU EDI audit, which cost $2400. As Council must make all decisions in public, they were required to ratify the vote at this council meeting. The ratification of the vote passed unanimously.
VPFA Syed had made changes to the new investment guidelines, the most substantive changes being allowing councils to use Environmental and Social Guideline practices within their investing; it calls for the investment manager to be signatories of the UN’s principles for responsible investing. VPFA Syed proposed a motion to approve this change; President Fletcher seconded it. VPFA Syed also noted that this passed through the finance committee. The motion passed.
ED Campbell explained that the annual report is presented after the financial audit, which is why it is well after the end of the fiscal year. This document is on the website for any members to view. President Fletcher commented that AUSU is better at gathering this information from students than AU is, so they often share it with AU because there is great feedback within it.
The meeting concluded with reports and recognitions, which proceeded quite quickly without much in the way of discussion. President Fletcher recognized Councillor Blake Collett, who has been assisting students in finding alternatives to ProcterU for exam invigilation, which she hopes will put pressure on AU to provide better options for exam invigilation.
If you would like to join council meetings to see for yourself what AUSU is up to, they occur on the third Thursday of each month; reach out to email@example.com for more information. Also, there will be a town hall meeting for the adjusted AUSU Bylaws that will happen this Monday, April 24th, at 5:00-6:00pm. Find out more on the AUSU Event page for this meeting.