UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) are set to put aside their differences at the upcoming March for Education on Wednesday, October 4th 2017. In advance of the March, the Tribune spoke to the Presidents of the two Unions to assess their working relationship so far this year.
The University Times ran a piece in August on UCDSU refusing an invitation to a training session for Sabbatical Officers. Commenting on this situation, Michael Kerrigan, USI President told the Tribune that ‘a reason for [UCDSU] not attending was not given, however, it had been outlined to us that the invitation was given at short notice.’
Katie Ascough, UCDSU President, explained to the Tribune that here were ‘two main reasons UCDSU did not accept the invitation to USI’s SUT+ training: 1) The majority of sabbatical officer were on annual leave that week and those who were present were manning the offices, and 2) UCD students have voted to remain out of USI, so it would have been questionable to attend a USI training event on Union time.’
UCDSU collaborated with Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) over the summer on accommodation projects. TCDSU is a member of the USI. The Tribune asked Kerrigan if the USI had any involvement with this project. He said that they were not involved in this collaboration, but had previously invited UCDSU to work with it on its own #HomesForStudy program. USI ran this for a number of years, and it is now government funded.
UCDSU left USI in 2013, and students voted by a large margin again last year to stay away from the organisation. The Tribune asked Kerrigan why USI therefore continues to invite UCDSU to its events. He stated, ‘the issues our students are facing are much more important than petty arguments that have occurred between USI and UCDSU in the past. Although UCDSU are not members of USI, I believe the student movement can has to be united in addressing key student issues such as higher education funding, student accommodation and mental health.’
When asked for a specific comment on Kerrigan’s quote, Ascough simply responded, ‘UCDSU welcomes collaboration with USI where appropriate, and we look forward to attending the March for Education on the 4th of October.’ Regarding the March for Education, Kerrigan confirmed all non-affiliated Unions have been invited. Ascough noted she has had ‘had two formal meetings with USI so far. One for introductions and another to discuss the March for Education on the 4th of October.’
Alison Graham – News Editor