As the story broke in the last of issue of this paper, a group calling themselves UCD Students Against Abortion has been set up by students in the university, who feel that they are no longer represented by UCDSU. This follows on from the preferendum which took place at the beginning of October in which students decided that UCDSU should take the stance that an abortion in the Republic should be legal and at the request of a woman. The preferendum passed with a 12% turnout and a total valid poll of 2,527.
The group, while small in numbers, are most certainly one that has the potential to cause damage to the students’ union, if their request to reverse the policy is ignored. Along with that the fact of the matter is they could, if needed challenge the validity of mandatory union membership. One can see their point of view and understand why they are taking this position, as they are members of a union that differs with their own beliefs.
However, by opening the floodgates to non mandatory membership of the union, this weakens the position of the union to lobby on behalf of UCD students and weakens their position when dealing with university authorities.
One of the biggest questions that this situation poses is whether UCDSU should act as a union or more like a service provider. At the moment we see the fault lines in place, with a union stuck in the middle, veering towards a type of service provider to students.
A union that stands together as one is best, but the union itself needs to identify what it is. Is it a service provider or is it a union fighting for a common cause? UCDSU needs to decide what bed to sleep in.