From the President to You: Benefits of Being Part of the ASA

The month of February has a bunch of activities going on across campus, so I look forward to seeing many of you out and about this month! A big thing this month is that our nominations open Feb. 4 for the ASA 2019-2020 positions. When nominations open, all ASA positions will be available for students to run for, from exec positions to councillor positions.

I thought I would use this opportunity to speak about my time on the ASA and how being involved has been the absolute highlight of my time at university. In my first year of university, I was incredibly introverted and shy and the last place I thought I would end up was on the ASA. I ended up being convinced to run and handed in my nomination package just minutes before they were due. I wound up winning my election and I absolutely loved my first year on council, but I noticed there were areas within the organization and the university in general I wanted to get involved in. So, I ran for an exec position, and was also what pushed me to run for President. Overall, the ASA has provided me with the greatest university experience I could have ever dreamed of. Here are my top three takeaways from the time I have spent in the organization.

  1. Building Relationships

My three years on council have provided me with some of the best friends I could ever have. This organization helped me to build relationships with peers within the organization and with the whole student body in general and they’re definitely people who will be lifelong friends of mine. I have also gotten the opportunity to get to know many of the faculty, staff, and administrators, all of whom are incredibly valuable to me. Building relationships with the people around me is something I personally value a lot and being a part of the ASA has given me the ability to foster and create many meaningful and long-lasting relationships.

  1. Building Leadership Experience

Another really valuable takeaway I’ve had from being on council is having the opportunity to foster my own leadership style and gain more leadership experience. I was involved with student council throughout high school, but I never gave much thought about my own leadership. By being on the ASA, I have had the opportunity to spend time reflecting on my own leadership style, attend conferences, and also help those around me foster their own growth. This has been a huge takeaway for me because it’s something that will be of really great value in my future as well.

  1. Being a Part of the Decision Making Process

One of the biggest reasons I decided to stay with the organization is that there were aspects within the organization, and within the university, that I wanted to change. Being on the ASA has given me the opportunity to see those changes through and be a part of the decision making process. I’ve been able to be a part of changes to student life on campus and it is incredibly rewarding for me to know that I have been a part of making this campus a better place than I came to it as.

Overall, being an ASA member has been the best part of my university experience and I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to get more involved to give it a try. Nominations will be open from Feb. 4 to 28 and if you have any questions about the process, you can ask any of the current ASA members and we will be happy to help.

All About the Upcoming ASA Elections

BY HIEN NGUYEN

Each semester, each Augustana student pays a $65 Students’ Association Fee for grants, awards, and social activities. Since the ASA utilizes our fees, we must care about how they improve student engagement and solve any existing issues. Considering the annual ASA presidential election will arrive in less than a month, let’s see what current president, Taylor Johnson, has to say about the election.

When will the election be?

Nominations for council will be open Feb. 4 – 28. Any time during then, students can come down to the office and just take up a nomination form. They need to hand the paper back before 5 p.m. on Feb 28.

What positions can people run for?

All the positions are open, and anyone can run for any of those positions. Usually, the Spring election will have quite a few students running. There is the President’s position and four Vice President (VP) positions which are: VP Academic, VP Student Life, VP Finance, and VP Communication. Those are the executive positions, and then we have all the council positions open as well. We have two second-year representatives (rep), one third-year rep, one fourth-year rep, an international student rep, Indigenous student rep, and two off-campus reps.

Do you have any information on the candidates?

At this moment, we don’t have the candidates’ information yet. It’s quite soon so we must wait until the end of February.

What are some of the on-going issues?

I think the big thing will be more talking about 3-11 courses for sure. That was the big thing last year and it will continue to be the big thing for years to come until people are happier with what is going on. Sexual assault and diversity inclusion are always concerned topics as well. There will be some discussion about that for candidates. Mental health resources are going to be one as it comes up every year.

How can students vote?

We do online voting. It’s on March 13 and 14. When you receive the email on your Ualberta account, there is a link where you put in your CCID and student ID number, then it will go through all the eligible positions that you can vote for. All students can vote for the presidents and the executives. Depending on what year are you studying in, you’re going to vote for that prospective year rep. If you live off campus you will vote for the off-campus rep, and if you’re international or Indigenous you will also vote for those reps as well.

What should candidates prepare?

All candidates must submit a candidate’s form. Essentially, every candidate must have a small speech about who they are and something that they want to do if they are elected. Then we go to a questions period so that every student can ask any of these candidates questions and the candidates will have a chance to answer. This section will be on March 4.

Your advice for candidates as the current president of ASA?

This is my third year being on the council, so I have run in several of these elections. If it’s something that you’re passionate about, just go for it. It was probably the best thing that I’ve done in my university career. There are a lot of resources and all of us on the council are happy to talk about them.

I would advise candidates to think out of the box because we really can change things that many students don’t fully understand.

ASA News You Can Use: From the President to You

BY TAYLOR JOHNSON

Right now things are starting to slow down for the ASA as the term is winding down. Wellness Week just came to an end, and I was incredibly pleased with how successful it was. I hope the events of this week allowed students to take a break and focus on their own wellness, even just for a moment.
I would like to give a big thank you to our VP Com, Alex Ho, and the Awareness Committee for all the work they put into the week to make it successful.
Another exciting thing on the radar is about substance use on campus. I am a member of a working group on campus that is looking a creating a new policy surrounding the three legal substances: tobacco, cannabis, and alcohol. This working group has made recommendations to the Academic Council to allow for restricted use of all three substances on campus.
Obviously, this is a huge change to our campus and it would really shake the culture we have here. Some recommendations we have put forward are designated smoking areas on campus for tobacco and cannabis.
These designated areas would be separate from each other, and one possible location of this is the gazebo in the Ravine but nothing has been decided yet.
Something we have gotten a lot of feedback on in the ASA is the location of the smoking spot in front of First Year Dorms. This location has also been recommended to be moved.
In regards to alcohol, the group has also recommended restricted use in dorms. We have looked at placing limits on the number of people in rooms at a time to ensure that a “party culture” doesn’t run rampant. Essentially, alcohol would be allowed in dorm rooms but would not be allowed in hallways or common areas/lounges.
This policy is hopefully going to be drafted and ready to roll out in the new year with the ability to make changes and modify things as we see fit. It is always easier to place more restrictions to begin with and take away as seen fit than add restrictions afterwards. We are always looking for feedback on this, especially from students, so if you ever want to chat about this please don’t hesitate to visit me in the office or send me an email at asapres@ualberta.ca.
Best of luck on all your final assignments and final exams and I hope you all have a wonderful and relaxing winter break!

Wellness Week Tackles Mental Health Awareness

BY KIRANDEEP SINGH

Each semester, the Augustana Students’ Association (ASA) hosts a week long event referred to as Wellness Week. The goal is to improve the mental health of students and help them destress at the end of the busy semester. Wellness Week is extremely important as it helps students take some time to wind down with the stress of final exams approaching. This year, Wellness Week was run by Alex Ho, the VP of Communications on the ASA.
The ASA advertised Wellness Week through posters, email newsletters, and through the Facebook event page. Students were encouraged to participate and get involved.
Over the week, all sorts of different events took place. Students had the opportunity to grab food and drinks on various days throughout the week. There were fruits, a salad bar, snacks, Norwegian breakfast, and Booster Juice! Volunteers helped hand out the goodies the best they could even though they went quickly.
Events to help students manage adult life also took place. A financial blueprint program helped students manage money and work on budgeting their finances. Other benefits promoted self-care, such as free admission to the Fitness Centre for the whole week.
Practices designed to calm and ease like beading, knitting, and a dog walk also took place. Although there were not many participants for these practices, the people who joined were concentrated and learned new skills that can be forms of peaceful meditation.
The University of Alberta also promotes an app called WellTrack that uses interactive self-help therapy to help students with their mental health. A person needs to sign in with their school email to get full access. The app offers mood assessments, modules to help students get through their mental health issues, and guides students to resources that are available at Augustana or in Camrose where they can seek help. The app is available on the App Store and on Google Play.

Find Funding Options for Activities with Your Students’ Association

BY HIEN NGUYEN

Along with scholarships, grants and awards have always been a kind of motivation for students in every stage of their learning journey. After a long time working hard to prove yourself,  receiving an award or getting a grant can help acknowledge your hard efforts. How can you get one? The answer is being an early bird. Let’s take a glance at the Augustana Student Association (ASA) website so they can lead you to what you want.

Grants

If you are on your way to pursue grants, there is some good news for you. The Students’ Association provides annual funds for those who can demonstrate their potential in academic performance, educational, or other extracurricular activities.

There are four specific criteria the ASA Grant Committee will consider funding for you:

  • Your activity should have a positive impact on students’ experience through extracurricular, education endeavors, or through student initiatives.
  • Each university has distinguishable images. What do you think about our Augustana Campus reputation as a part of Alberta? Describe how the activity influences the university’s image as an outstanding institution.
  • How the activity allows Augustana students to maximize their university experience.
  • Finally, why do you believe that this activity will be a chance for students to better themselves and the wider community?

Am I eligible?

The ASA requires applicants to meet all these following conditions when considering their applications:

  • Being enrolled as a student at the University of Alberta, Augustana Campus
  • You must prove your commitment to finance the activity. How long will it take you to run this activity? Are you able to keep things on track?
  • You are required to show a cost breakdown and financial need. What is your plan after receiving this grant? How will you separate this amount efficiently?
  • You must have only applied once per granting session.

What is expected?

  • You must provide proof of enrolment or registration for the endeavour prior to receiving any grant funding.
  • Successful applicants shall only receive funding after providing a report on the endeavour. You have worked hard because you know success does not come overnight. Now it is the time to convince them that you are the deserved one.
  • All reports must be submitted to the committee chairperson no later than 30 days after the endeavour has concluded.

Don’t forget the Grants Deadlines:

November 23, 2018

February 8, 2019

March 1, 2019

Awards

Every year, the Student Association provides several financial awards. The Financial Need award is $2,000 and administered by the university. The Lone Parent Bursary is up to $2,000, depending on the number of applicants. There are also four Leadership Awards worth $500 each available. These are given out annually at the Spring Leadership Reception. Anyone who makes efforts and contribution to the Augustana Community is eligible to compete for their slots. Recipients are chosen by a committee.

ASA Sponsored Leadership Awards

Award categories include the Betty Ostenrud Award – Faculty, Betty Ostenrud Award – Staff, Heather Huber Memorial Award – Student, Best New Club, Most Improved Club, and Best Overall Club. They are given out at the same time as other awards in the Leadership Reception in April.

Above is some general information that you may find helpful. Please notice that Applications must be handed into the ASA Main Office located in the Forum Lower Level, L1-010. For more specific information, contact the ASA email augsa@ualberta.ca.

 

Candidates’ Forum

BY MEGHAN JOBSON

On Oct. 10 and 11, Augustana voted for their first and second-year ASA representatives. The candidates presented compelling discussions during the Candidates’ Forum the previous Thursday on a variety of topics including on and off campus living, and sexual violence among students.

When asked about working with residence services and how they plan on tailoring their goals to incorporate residence, Richard Li, who ran for first-year rep, discussed his ideas to open up the floor to incorporate more discourse with residence services. Elizabeth Turner, who also ran for first-year rep, focused her response on communication and, like Li, open up the doors for discussion with students. Dawson Mantyka, who was elected first-year rep made a distinguishment in his response between the ASA and residence services saying his position as ASA rep doesn’t include residencies because that is the mandate of the RA’s. Devon Baranowski, the elected second-year rep, agreed with Mantyka saying that he wasn’t concerned with residence in his platform because there is a difference between a resident and a student. He went on to discuss how the ASA is concerned with the more academic side of the student experience, not the residence side, however as he put it, “the ASA will always be there for a student.”

Taylor Johnson, ASA president then asked how the students plan to address issues that off campus students face even though most of the candidates live on campus. Baranowski responded that most of the issues that off-campus students face pertain to schooling which is where the ASA could step in and try and help, saying that it is kind of an unspoken rule that the ASA is there for off campus students. Mantyka suggested anonymous drop boxes to reach out to off campus students. Turner pointed out the importance of becoming an approachable voice and allowing students to feel heard. Li responded with bringing up the off campus rep position.

 When the candidates were asked how they plan on bringing awareness to, and helping prevent sexual assault and sexual violence on and off campus. In their responses, the candidates discussed education as a potential way of prevention, relying heavily on the Keith Edwards talk that has been part of the first year seminar courses the last two years. However, they also all explained that due to the vastness of the issue, there isn’t a lot the ASA can do in order to prevent it other than education and awareness. Mantyka even went so far as to say that the issue spans far beyond what he feels his capabilities are and should be dealt with at the governmental level and said “at the end of the day there are people who are going to do things that aren’t socially acceptable.”

 Augustana voted the week following the forum, on Oct. 10 and 11 and elected Mantyka as the first year rep and Baranowski as the second-year rep.