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CSA FAQ Part 3: Academic Commissioner

Thursday, August 3, 2006

20 Questions for Academic Commissioner Becky Wallace

1) Who the devil are you?

Becky “you can skip all the syllables and call me B” Wallace

2) So ‘B’, what is it that you do for the CSA?

Academic Commissioner

3) Sounds technical. What does it mean?

I represent students on all issues related to academics. Considering we go to a university, this covers a lot. I advocate for students who have been given unfair grades, who need financial aid, are being discriminated against and who need help careening their way through university red tape. I’m also the student voice for issues that affect us all: tuition, the university budget, accessibility of our campus, and the quality of our education.

4) Are you the person to talk to about getting better chairs in the lecture halls?

Not that cozy bottoms aren’t important, but I’d be more the person to talk to about getting better teaching support/smaller classes/improved learning environments. But if way too stiff chairs are interfering with your ability to learn, you can bet your butt I want to hear about it.

5) Speaking of tuition, how are we going to combat the rising cost of education?

Your External Commissioner and I will be organizing letter writing campaigns, a national day of action, raising awareness of the need for accessible education in the community, and lobbying the government through the Canadian Federation of Students. If Canadians make it loud and clear that we value accessible education, then political parties will have no choice but to put it as a priority. As well, I’ll be working throughout the year to provide student input in the university budget. I want to make sure there are other options for making up budget shortfalls rather than just increasing tuition on the backs of already cash-strapped students.

6) What brought you to serve as a CSA commissioner any way?

The advocacy aspect: I used to work at the CSA Legal Resource Room and loved being able to help out students with problems. As Academic Commissioner, it’s a combination of advocacy with the academic aspect, which is pretty frickin’ cool.

7) So you’re both street smart and book smart?

Only after I’ve had my coffee.

8) What’s the deal with being a CSA commissioner any way? Do you still do classes? Do you get paid?

It’s a full-time job and the CSA commissioners are like employees of the students; we work for you. We get paid an annual salary which works out to a pretty low hourly wage but that’s ok because we also get offices with windows. I still take two courses a semester so that I know what’s going on in the classroom end of academic issues.

9) I guess not everybody’s lucky enough to get an office with a window?

Nope. But some folks get to work outside all the time which can be pretty nice… except in the winter.

10) What is the one thing that you want me, as a student, to know about the CSA?

Honest to goodness, we want to hear what you think. We will work hard (like beavers) to make sure your voice gets heard at the university.

11) But will you also be as stubborn as an old mule?

Um….. no.

12) What can we look forward to this year at the U of G?

The Academic Survival Guide has been updated and will be available online – it’s a great resource to answer common “what do I do” questions when you’re having difficulties with a prof, your courses, when you want to change programs, need emergency funds, etc. As well, before you choose your courses this year, you can check out www.rateaprof.ca to find out what students thought of the prof and class you’re considering. There will also be the Art in the Bullring contest twice a year where students can display their art in the Bullring for money and prizes.

13) Besides tuition, what do you think is going to be the big issue facing students in the coming school year?

Getting student voices heard on campus – in the Integrated Planning process, on Senate, on the Board of Governors, and on the UC Board. For example, on the Board of Governors (the highest decision-making body on campus), only 3 out of 24 seats are given to students. Even though we are ridiculously out-numbered on these committees, CSAers and other dedicated students will make sure that students concerns are heard and that students get more representation on campus.

14) Can I refer to the CSA exec as the “Fantastic Five”?

Only because it’s true.

15) How can I make a difference? I’m only one person.

You can join the CSA… or you can watch one of those “beat the odds” movie for inspiration. I hear Rudy is pretty good.

16) Isn’t that the one where Samwise Gamgee wants to play football for Notre Dame?

Well it’s actually about the character Rudy (based on a true story) who fulfills his dream of playing college football despite being told all his life he’s too small. But I can see how you’d get confused. Sean Astin is the actor who plays Rudy in Rudy, Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings and Mikey Walsh in The Goonies. Isn’t Hollywood such a small world?

17) I like Goonies better.

Yeah, any movie involving pirates is pretty good. Definitely a career high-point for Sean Astin.

18) How can I start getting better informed on academic issues facing the U of G?

Check out the CSA website at URL//http://www.csaonline.ca. You can also stop by my office anytime or give me a call or an email.

19) Where do I find you if I need you?

In the University Centre, 2nd floor, working diligently in my office.

20) Is there such a thing as being too cool for school?

I don’t think you can be too cool for anything. Especially school.

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