BY JOSH WADE / STAFF WRITER
I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to conduct an interview with a member of the Augustana Students’ Association this week, something I was excited about, as I’d had next to no dealings with the organization at a personal level beforehand.
Kyra Gusdal is a fourth year Drama major and the current Vice President of Student Life within the ASA. She hails from Wetaskiwin, Alberta where she has lived for most of her life, and was drawn to Augustana because her parents, grandfather, and brother attended in the past. In her own words, it seemed like the logical next step. She had seen multiple productions from the drama program as a child and knew it was what she wanted to pursue.
“I’m from Wetaskiwin, which is small, and this was a small campus. I know all my professors’ names. It was my last class of the semester today and I just sat for twenty minutes after, just chatting about our lives, so it’s nice to have that opportunity to really connect with your professors that you might not get somewhere with a larger campus size.”
As VP of Student Life, Kyra helms many student initiatives, as well as being involved with event planning for student events as chair of the Activities Committee and championing any issues that may arise. She initially pursued the position owing to her skills and talents as an organizer, remarking that she felt she could use the position to have a large impact on students and student issues around the campus.
“This year, a big initiative I’ve been working on has been the gender neutral washroom campaign. There’s a pilot program at North Campus that’s supposed to transfer through all the campuses, so my job is to see that student voices are actively represented … a lot of my time is spent making sure that what students need is actually following through.” On this front, by the end of the year all single-occupancy washrooms will be made gender-neutral, and multi-occupancy washrooms are being evaluated for placement within the Forum building. Additional projects include campus-based sexual violence prevention and response initiatives.
“Of course there’s always challenges that come with any student advocacy position,” Kyra notes. “There’s only one thousand students here but we’re such a diverse group of people that it’s sometimes hard when you’re sitting in those meetings [with administration] to give voice to so many of them. So it’s always a challenge to make sure that we’re accurately representing all of those students.” She considers it equally important as a representative of the student body to maintain a high degree of transparency and open information between all parties in discussion, noting that it’s the best way to have every issue be taken seriously and prepared as well as it can be. When asked about her feelings on this year’s ASA and how their opportunities have developed, Kyra responded that she felt they were, in one word, “unstoppable.”
For students who are interested in using ASA services, they have a website (located here) and an Instagram account (@uofa_asa) where events and services are detailed. For in-person questions or consultation, the ASA office is open weekdays from 9 AM to 5 PM. Individuals interested in joining the council or applying as a volunteer should enquire with members of the ASA regarding both, especially the former, as elections will be coming up in the spring. Kyra’s advice to those interested: “Just do it! The ASA has made my experience at Augustana so much better than it would have been without it, and we’re really lucky to have an organization like this.”
Kyra Gusdal, ASA vice president of Student Life. Photo from web with permission.