Representing Us: the ASA

BY OFURE EIGBE / STAFF WRITER

We know the Augustana Student Association plays many roles on campus, but what do we know about what they actually do for Augustana Students? Before that, let me briefly introduce our ASA members for the 2022/2023 academic year.

EXECUTIVE

Cindy Roose – Executive Director

Jewel Naicker – President

Saim Khokhar – VP Finance

Kyra Gusdal – VP Student Life

Ursula Pountou – VP Academic

Eylul Evren – VP Communications

STUDENT COUNCIL

Miron Nekhoroshkov – First Year Representative 

Katherine Starishko – First Year Representative

Husna Usman – Second Year Representative

Jay Modi – Second Year Representative

Sarah Nagel – Third Year Representative

Adrian Lam – Off Campus Representative

Denzel Kalmoni – International Students’ Representative

Ty Holmes – Indigenous Students’ Representative

I had a chance to speak with second-year and Indigenous student representatives, Husna Usman and Ty Holmes, to discuss some of their goals for the year and learn a bit more about the team.

Husna Usman, Second-Year Representative. Photo submitted.

Husna Usman – Second-Year Representative 

Husna is a second-year Law, Crime, and Justice major. She likes to watch Anime for fun, and held a student council position while in high school. Joining the ASA has taught her more about leadership and has given her a different outlook on what a leader should have. For Husna, leadership is three words: Vision, Direction, and Delivery.

Husna joined the ASA because of her drive to bring a voice to issues that some students may believe are unimportant. Husna believes that speaking about issues will make university life less stressful.

Discussing her objectives for this year, Husna said she would like to do better academically than last year, to understand students more, and to establish bonds with them. She wants to make a difference in Augustana. Her goal is to impact the lives of the students she can reach, even if her focus will be on second years as a second-year representative.

When asked about her thoughts on Augustana, Husna clearly stated her admiration for our small community and the room it provides for personal growth and access to professors. She believes the small campus helps increase academic focus.

I took the opportunity to ask Husna about current ASA projects. One currently being worked on is the gender-neutral washrooms, a step towards inclusivity on campus. The ASA are also aiming at fixing the water fountain in the Ravine, and are brainstorming more event ideas to engage students and to familiarize themselves to the students.

As a second-year representative, Husna acknowledges that she is held accountable for listening and representing the second-year students with any of their academics and social issues while in school.

Husna ended this interview with advice for anyone finding it hard to find their crowd at Augustana: “in the end, it is not that deep. If you find solid relationships, fine, if not, you are still chilling.”

Ty Holmes, Indigenous Student Representative. Photo submitted.

Ty Holmes – Indigenous Student Representative

Ty Holmes is a first year in the Law, Crime, and Justice major. Ty enjoys going hiking in the summertime, playing casual sports like badminton and volleyball, and playing video games with friends online and in person.

Ty joined the ASA because of his desire to support the Indigenous peoples across campus in any way possible. Ty grew up in a town he describes as “practically in the bush” in Northern Alberta, and he believes that the experiences he had there allow him to relate to the Indigenous community both on and off campus.

Currently, Ty is workshopping a newsletter to provide information about scholarships, helplines, and other important information to the Augustana community. 

In terms of projects the ASA is developing, Ty is proud to see movement in the push for gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. Other than that, he says that they are making excellent progress on other projects around campus, and suggests that if students want to be informed of more of these projects, you can join the student council meetings in the Roger Epp room on Wednesdays at 5:30 pm.

The Augustana Psychology Club: Building Community and Promoting Mental Health

BY ISCA V. IRANGWE / STAFF WRITER

The main focus of The Augustana Psychology Club is to engage individuals on campus with psychology and bring more awareness to mental health on campus. The club aims to build a community through academic events such as peer tutoring, psych information night, and future opportunities. In addition, non-academic events are done to increase awareness and promote good mental health on campus by having activities such as yoga night, bake sale to raise funds for mental health resources, and movie night.

The ASA

We want to form a community of students who are interested in mental health and psychology outside of classes, where people can come in and enjoy themselves.

Ava Lang, Psychology Club president. Photo submitted.

President of the Psychology club, Ava Lang. Ava is a 4th year psychology student, who, at academic advisor of the club Dr. Paula Marentette’s suggestion, decided to get the club going this year. Photo submitted.

. . .

The Dagligtale sat down with Ava Lang, the president of the Augustana Psychology Club, to chat about the club’s upcoming events and goals for the future.

The Psychology Club, like most clubs on campus, was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the club has not been as active as its members–or potential members–would’ve liked, and they have had few events in the past three years. However, as everything is being held in person this year (so far!), that is all about to change, as the club has a few events planned for this academic year. 

Dag: What kind of events has the club held recently?

Ava: We did an info night about how to apply to grad school. So we had Dr. Rebecca [Purc-Stephenson] come in and she gave a very nice and informative presentation on that. There was lots of great feedback from everyone that went; they loved it. That’s the only one we have had so far. 

D: What upcoming events is the club planning?

A: We have trivia night coming up on [November] 23rd. Anyone can join, come out and learn while having fun–hence the trivia. We are also going to do a Kahoot, and the winner gets a gift card. 

As part of Wellness Week, we have an art therapist coming on December 1st. She is going to give a presentation and talk about how she uses art, colours, and shapes to improve mental and emotional well-being. We are still in the process of planning, but she might even have an activity planned! After the presentation, participants will get to sit down and draw or paint, whatever they want to kind of get the stress out. And lastly, we are planning a movie night on December 7th–there might be a $3 entry fee–where we’ll watch Shutter Island and have people unwind before finals.

(If you are interested in stimulating conversation, there will be a short discussion after the movie, sharing your thoughts and possibly analyzing the movie from a psychological perspective.)

D: Is the club still looking for executive members?

A: At the moment, no we are not. Next semester for sure, as most people on the board right now will be graduating. We will be sending out a notification to club members via email and posting on instagram as well to see if anyone wants to apply to be on the executive board. It is an excellent opportunity to get involved with the school and the psychology professors on campus, plan activities and be there for the community!

(Anyone can apply to be on the executive board, and the club is looking forward to having people from different years be involved in the club as to expand the club’s demographic.)

D: How does the club get involved in the Camrose community? Do you do activities with local charities or organizations?

A: We did want to do a fundraiser for the women’s shelter in town. It probably won’t happen until next year but we would love to give back to the community. It’s hard to find the right charity or shelter or organization to donate to, but we think the women’s shelter would be a good fit.

. . .

The club meets up at least once a month, and you can get in touch with the club through their email: augpsyc@ualberta.ca and follow their instagram page @augpsychclub where they post all of their upcoming events.

Upcoming Psychology Club events:

Nov 23: Trivia night @ 7 pm, AULIB 2-102

Dec 1: Art Therapy @ 7 pm, place TBD

Dec 7: Movie Night @ 6:30 pm, C 167

A Recap of the ASA Candidates’ Forum

BY GEMMA PAGE / FREELANCE WRITER

The Augustana Student Association (ASA) Candidate’s Forum for the upcoming Winter 2021 election was held on Monday March 15, 2021 at 6pm. Rather than being held in the Wahkohtowin lodge, candidates and students gathered on a Google Meets link, which also was live streamed on the ASA Facebook page.

The candidate forum was an opportunity for the candidates to present their platforms in a public space. It was also a chance for the student body to learn what issues the candidates are running on and question them on the conditions of their goals and beliefs. Students were encouraged to attend in order to make an informed decision when voting in the representatives of the student government for the 2021-2022 school year.

This year, 9 current Augustana students are running for positions on the ASA. 

There are two candidates running for the position of ASA President: Robel Ng’ong’a and Benjamin Wilson: 

Robel Ng’ong’a has been part of the ASA this past year as VP Academic and has contributed his efforts to several successful programs including starting a student tutoring service for Augustana students and transitioning the After U program into a podcast on Spotify. His goals for next year’s term include getting free open source textbooks available for all students attending Augustana classes, continuing to expand on the student tutoring service as well as supporting international students by advocating for more flexible methods of instruction when dealing with online learning.

Although Benjamin Wilson has never run for the ASA before, he proudly mentioned that he was one of two student representatives on the Augustana Science Department Council and is currently the President of the Augustana Wildlife Society club. If he is elected as ASA President, Benjamin wants to explore more avenues for students to get their voices heard, wants to research more opportunities for students to get exposed to the work environment before they graduate, provide more support for student clubs and promote positive mental health as well as ensure that mental health is respected and always considered. 

The other positions have only a single candidate running, however all candidates were still required to take part in the online forum.

Sarah Nagel is running for the 2nd year representative position. She is excited to organize online, and if restrictions allow, in-person events. Although she personally hasn’t had the opportunity to attend any in person events, she wants to give first year students as well as next year’s second year students (or as she calls them: First Years 2.0) the chance to have a true Augustana experience.

The candidate for 3rd year representative was Kyra Gustal, who plans to focus and advocate for student success. During a time of uncertainty and stress, Kyra believes that student success deserves to be recognized. 

Rebecca Nicholson is running to be part of the ASA for her fourth consecutive year, this time for Councillor at Large. She plans to continue working on the ASA food pantry, a project that she has been monitoring and organizing for the past year. 

The candidate for International Student Representative is Joseph Menezes. He plans to focus on communication and transparency with international students as well as the International Student Association from Main Campus. Joseph also intends to create new avenues of adaptation to a new life experience for international students attending Augustana. 

Running for the position of VP student life is Pia Vij, who wants to give students the true on-campus experience (if restrictions allow) and hold events with strict Covid-19 regulations in place. Pia also plans to use social media to connect with more students. 

Korah Sanderson is running for VP Communications. Korah plans to improve all ASA social media pages in order to “make them more personable” which will increase student engagement. She also wants to encourage student ideas and involvement in the ASA for the upcoming school year. 

The final candidate of the evening was Tanner Gausvik who is running for VP Academic. If elected, Tanner plans to collect data and opinions from students regarding the final experimental year of the 3/11 semester in order to benefit further Augustana students. Tanner also plans to certify that the new degrees offered to Augustana students remain as valuable as any other degree offered at UofA campuses. 

There was a lively question period that followed immediately after each of the candidate’s platform speeches, with each candidate being asked between 4 and 6 questions.   Voting for the Augustana Student Election is held virtually on March 17 and 18. Make sure you take part in deciding your 2021-2022 Augustana Student Association team.

ASA Elections Update

BY GEMMA PAGE / FREELANCE WRITER

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all aspects of our lives are now online… including the upcoming Augustana Students’ Association (ASA) election and nomination processes.

The time has come for the virtual Spring 2021 elections. If you are a full time Augustana student and you have a minimum GPA of 2.0, you are able to run for a seat on the Students’ Council for the 2021-2022 school year! Nominations are now open and will continue to be open until February 25, 2021.

Running for a position on the ASA is much simpler this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as candidates are not required to gather signatures in order to qualify their nomination. Instead, candidates must simply complete two online forms- the “Candidate Declaration” form, as well as, the “Eligibility for Office” form, which can be found on the Augustana Students’ Association website (http://augustana.su.ualberta.ca/governance/elections). In addition, interested candidates must submit an outline of their platform. All of these steps must be completed by 5:00 p.m., on February 25, 2021. Finally, each candidate must participate in the candidate forum that is to be held virtually on March 15, which will allow candidates to highlight important points of their platforms and answer questions posed by the student body. Voting will take place virtually on March 17-18, 2021.

Executive positions open include: 

  • President
  • Vice-President Academic 
  • Vice-President Finance
  • Vice-President Communications
  • Vice-President Student Life 

The rest of the available committee includes:

  • Two Second Year Representatives
  • One Third Year Representative
  • One Fourth Year Representative
  • Two Off Campus Representatives
  • One International Students’ Representative
  • One Indigenous Students’ Representative
  • One Councilor-at-Large. 

Next year will be an interesting year to be on the Augustana Students’ Association committee as they will begin the challenging process of switching back to in-person events after a year of online events due to COVID-19 restrictions. Social media will still, however, place an important role in providing an outreach to students. The most important job of an ASA member is being a resource to students, especially during this crazy, uncertain and confusing time.

According to current VP Communications, Rebecca Nicholson, “[being on the ASA] is more of a platform for you to do real change that matters to you. Even if you’ve never been on council before, don’t let that stop you from running!” There are many reasons for you to get involved with the ASA: if you want to plan events, help the school. There are countless ways to get involved in fostering an exciting, energetic, supportive, caring university community under the umbrella of the ASA. If you have ideas on ways to make positive and impactful changes to the ASA, get involved and do your part to make it better. After all, there is always room for improvement.

(For more information, please check the ASA website at http://augustana.su.ualberta.ca/governance/elections). 

A Brief Overview of the ASA Presidential Candidates

BY ALIZA GRAHAM / DAGLIGTALE STAFF WRITER

The Candidates for President of the Augustana Student’s Association for the Spring 2020 Elections are Tanner Gausvik and Arnold Gihozo. They are running for the President position for the 2020/2021 school year, and the Candidates Forum is set to take place on March 16th, and voting will take place on March 18th and 19th, with campaigning ending on the 19th.

Gausvik is a third-year English student and the current Vice-President Academic. Augustana will be experiencing a series of changes in regard to its funding, staffing, students’ services and job opportunities, and academic core; Gausvik is running for ASA President because he hopes that under his leadership, the ASA can help guide students through these changes. With so many changes occurring at once he plans to minimize any possible negative impacts these coming changes may bring. In order to accomplish this he will use the three pillars of his platform: Awareness, Advocacy, and Accountability. If he is elected to this position, one of his goals is to increase the transparency between the students and staff of the university, and work with the Vice-President Communications to find the best way to distribute information to the student population. He will address problems concerning the new core, and any of the cut services on campus. If any of the upcoming changes to this campus prove not to work, Gausvik plans to do his job to confront and hold those who made the decisions accountable.

Gihozo is a third-year Computing Science student and is also running to be the next ASA President. He understands the importance of the Augustana community and how Augustana is a unique institution. He strongly believes that this community still has more work to be done to improve the values and reputation it holds. In his platform he focuses on several major issues including mental health, sustainability, inclusion, and opportunities. Gihozo is planning a few initiatives on campus to help support students mental health such as an Emotional Support Group, Counselors on Campus, and North Campus Support. Over the past year, he has been working at the LAB office in order to find various ways to make our residences sustainable. He wants to work with the Augustana community to reduce waste on campus and increase sustainable ways of living. To help promote an inclusive community he is planning a platform for all clubs, groups and organization to work on issues regarding international students, minority groups and indigenous groups. He also plans to continue to support existing groups such as AQUA and Diversity Working Group to promote diversity at Augustana. Gihozo also plans on having Workshop Based Learning to educate on different cultures, groups and opportunities on campus. He believes the workshops could be an opportunity for each student to share their culture’s valuable aspects with the rest of the community. Finally, he wants to promote opportunities including student employment and employment development opportunities.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: You can read through each of the Presidential Candidates’ platforms, as well as the platforms for the candidates for all the other positions, on the ASA website.  Voting will take place online on March 18 and 19: you can visit the ASA Facebook page for more info.)

ASA UPDATE

BY KIRANDEEP SINGH / DAGLIGTALE STAFF WRITER

With the winter semester speeding by, we decided to ask our fellow ASA members about their plans going forward.
President – Philip Miheso
Philip has three projects he is focusing on. The first one consists of putting up a ad-hoc committee. This is a long-term goal and will take time, but the plan is to get it into progress. This committee is designed create a goal and follow through on it, and Miheso plans to get the groundwork in motion.
The second project is to collaborate with a radio station and get more involved in the Camrose community. This will create more outreach and create more unity within the local community. Students would listen to the radio more and become aware of what is going on around town.
Lastly, the final project is to develop a growth in student advocacy. The ASA is aiming to get a voice in the Camrose City Council, so that more opportunities come their way.
Miheso’s goal is to push these projects as far as he possibly can, and continue to further his education.
VP Communications – Rebecca Nicholson 
The ASA election nominations open on February 4th, so for the next couple of weeks Nicholson will be focusing on promoting it, and sharing what you could do as a student representative.
Thursday, February 13th will be the winter semesters Off Campus Student Supper. The Off Campus Rep, Daniela, has been hard at work planning an amazing meal so Nicholson encourages students to look out for more info.
Lastly, Rebecca  is beginning one of my favourite events; Wellness Week! It will be the week of March 30th. The Awareness Committee and Nicholson are only in the initial planning stages, but are really looking forward to it.
Nicholson is excited to share that the ASA now has an Anonymous Feedback Form. The link and QR code is available on the ASA Facebook page, Instagram and the ASA website.
VP Finance – Richard Li
Richard is looking forward to work on bringing visibility to the ASA’s spending and bringing in more transparency with the students. Li hopes to also continue to better advertise the ASA’s services, like when they received a free shipment of menstrual products.
Li also plans to participate in the discussion in the idea of opening a campus bar in the future years ahead, perhaps in the location of the current bookstore.
Li aims to let students know that he is just like any one of them; a student before a member of the ASA. He welcomes questions and is open to speaking further with students on his position in the ASA, and his developing goals.
VP Student Life – Jennae Matzner
Jennae was unavailable for comment.
(Originally published February 5, 2020)

THE ASA WHO?

BY KIRANDEEP SINGH / DAGLIGTALE STAFF WRITER

We all know of the Augustana Students Association but do we know what services they provide? We asked our representatives a few questions and here is some information!

VP Finance – Richard Li:

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Richard does the budgeting for the ASA and helps organize the club budgets. He also helps with student grants as well as student advocacy. His role is important for students as he makes sure people do not overspend and makes sure that they money is being used responsibly. He’s also in charge of student discounts and has revealed to us that the movie theatre will be giving students $1 off, and 10% off on regular priced items. When asked about his goals for this year, Richard responded with “I want to do well in school first of all.”  He is also working with the VP Student Life to work toward getting free menstrual products on campus. He also mentioned how the ASA provides a lot of scholarships, and last year the application rate was low. He encourages people to take their chance and apply.

“I want to be seen as a student and your peer before being seen as a VP, remember that I’m just like you so you can talk to me.”

VP Communications – Rebecca Nicholson:

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Rebecca is responsible for communicating the interests and services of the ASA and its members to students, faculty, and the Camrose community. VP Communications is the primary user of all of the ASA social media. From the events they do, to the daily work of the ASA, it is necessary for students to know all of this, and the importance of the ASA. Without the ASA none of the amazing events they do could happen, clubs would have no funding, there would be very little student representation on any councils, committees and working groups, and many other services would cease to exist. Rebecca aims to build a better relationship between the Augustana Students Association and the rest of the student body. She wants all students to feel comfortable expressing their concerns, comments and suggestions. She also aims to be transparent with the student body.

“If you are ever curious about the ASA, what we do, and how we run, join us at our weekly Students’ Council meeting. They are every Wednesday at 5:30pm in the ASA boardroom, unless there is a school break in which case we do not have meetings. I look forward to more students joining us during these meetings!”

VP Student Life – Jennae Matzner

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Jennae’s role as the VP Student Life is to plan and host major events that happen with the ASA. Some include O-Team, Beer and Bands, Mission Impossible, Bashes, Formal, and Augustana’s Got Talent. I also focus on managing and helping out with Clubs. Some major things with clubs that I focus on are ensuring they are upholding their club constitution and the UofA/ASA Bylaws and Policies, making sure they have all the help and resources they need, and promoting their events and activities throughout the year. She ensures that students have a wide range of opportunities to meet new people, showcase their talents, and have an enjoyable university experience during their time at Augustana. She aims to advocate for stronger campus safety improve current events in the VPSL portfolio, increase student awareness for clubs and advocate for club spaces, have a stronger presence with diverse awareness groups on campus, and advocate for students on student life concerns. She encourages students to get involved in the ASA for many reasons with the bonus of how it can help build resumes and award applications.

“I’m quite busy this year being in my fourth year, on the ASA, and being a program assistant in the LAB office, but please don’t be afraid to approach me in the halls, in the office, or even out on a weekend with any questions you might have! My email is also always open at asavpstu@ualberta.ca”

President – Philip Miheso

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Philip’s role is to be a voice for the students to the administration. He is responsible for ensuring the most efficient practices possible in the Students’ Association. His role’s impact is most greatly felt when it comes to advocating for the needs and wants of students to faculty and administration. He hopes to see that the members of the Augustana community are more involved with each other, through events, academics and after-class livelihoods. He want this year to be a year when everyone on the ASA pushes themselves to do more for their constituents and strives to ensure their constituents are amicably heard on all forums within the school and now in the city of Camrose by being interested, involved and efficient in their practices.

“It is my greatest hope that all students stay real, keep their heads up and when times get tough, there is always a silver lining in every dark cloud.”

(Originally published September 27, 2019)

Introducing Your ASA Candidates

BY KIRANDEEP SINGH / Dagligtale Staff Writer

With the ASA elections, it is important to become educated on our candidates’ platforms and hear their views on meeting our needs as students. We conducted an interview with Richard Li, who is running for VP Finance, and Rebecca Nicholson, who is running for VP Communications.

Nicholson believes she is bringing experience and passion to the association. “I’ve done a lot of leadership work in the past. I was a part of the Girl Guides of Canada for 12 years so I have a lot of experience in leadership positions.” She is passionate about communication between the ASA and the student body. “Communication” was a part of my platform going into being an off-campus rep. I wanted to bridge the gap between on-campus and off-campus living.” She believes she has a good start with communication as off-campus rep but could do even more as VP Communications. “The VP Communications also play a pretty important role in preparing before elections.” They set up potential candidate forums and work with the campus and Student Union to get out the vote campaign. Despite running uncontested, Nicholson believes she deserves to win the ASA election because of her passion. “I want to make students aware of what we do and I wants student’s to know what our role is. I think more students should become involved and should want to be a part of the ASA.” One of Nicholson’s goals include advocating for more councillor’s at the school. She aims to find ways to helps students deal with stress and personal issues. “Augustana is missing something and I hope to work and improve on that next year.”

Li aims to bring sustainability and experience to the ASA. “I haven’t been VP Finance before but I am willing to offer my time and my willingness to learn from the students.” Like Nicholson, Li is also running uncontested in the ASA election. He believes that it is the student’s right to vote him out if he fails to engage the students. “Even though I’m running uncontested, it is more about whether I am fit to complete this role. I’m still going to run as if I’m versing someone else.” He believes that the current ASA is well-prepared in the needs of students but there is room for improvement.”I feel like the ASA has done a decent job in the past year and I hope to make it better.” He believes that more people should be running and getting engaged. “We get a lot of suggestions and I think more students should be taking initiative and trying to make change.” He encourages that students provide feedback so the ASA can better support their needs. “I feel that there is a disconnection between the ASA and students and that is something I would try to bridge to the best of my abilities.” Accessibility is something Li hopes to work on as well. Going through social media and hearing from students, he believes accessibility and the willingness to listen is something the ASA needs to work on. “The ASA should represent the students and I know that there are students who feel the ASA doesn’t.”

 

Jennae Matzner, who is running for VP Student Life, was not available for an interview.