Class Rep video causes controversy
Brendan Lacey, stuff Campaigns and Communications Officer for the UCD Students’ Union has come under fire for his ‘Run for Class Rep in UCD’ promotional video. The video, treat posted on the September 15th, has reached nearly 3,000 views.
The video features Lacey dressed as a stereotypical ‘nerd’ being ignored and laughed at in various UCD locations while attempting to socialise with his classmates. Lacey tells students they ‘don’t want him’ to be their Class Rep and need to get involved themselves. As Class Rep the student sits on the Union council as a representative for their constituency, as well as organising parties, trips and activities for their class.
The Students’ Union sees Class Reps as central to helping students feel integrated into university life. When questioned about the importance of integration in UCD, Lacey told the College Tribune “In a college of 24,000 students integration should be a top priority so students do not feel alone or isolated during their time here and instead live college to the full.”
Lacey’s video has had both positive and negative reactions from students. For some the video has raised questions about the inclusiveness of the union while for others the video is light hearted fun. Posting on Facebook, one student asked “But isn’t this video just a form of bullying? Making fun of people who find it hard to fit in. I think it encourages a bad sort of behaviour towards people who are a bit awkward and less socially developed”. However, another student replied “no its [sic] just a laugh”.
Aoife, a second year arts student had a mixed reaction to the video telling the College Tribune “I found it funny at first but I think it also highlights just how cliquey the Union is.”
The UCDSU has been plagued with similar accusations in the past and the video raises the question of how inclusive and accepting the Students’ union is. When asked to comment on the inclusiveness of the Union Welfare Officer, Rachel Breslin told the College Tribune “This time last year I had no connection with the Students’ Union whatsoever and once I decided to get involved and help out with something I loved doing I felt instantly valued and I do think I am a testament to the inclusivity of the union – a completely unknown, quiet and shy 18 year old with no Union involvement can become a Sabbatical Officer in just 8months’’
All registered UCD students automatically become members of the Students’ Union. The Unions constitution lists its fundamental objectives in Article 2; one of these objectives is “To act as a representative body for its members and other persons registered as students of the University.”
4th Year Science Student Ellynn commented “It’s our union yet most people I know wouldn’t even consider becoming involved because of how exclusive it is.” Lacey told the College Tribune that “we are trying very hard to find new ways to engage more with all students here in UCD.”
Last year controversy also surrounded the Class Rep training when it was announced the Reps’ off campus training cost the union a total of €10,500. Lacey has promised in his officer manifesto to provide “more comprehensive training” to class reps ensuring they are “best equipped” to be reps. It has not yet been made clear how Lacey will achieve this. Nominations for all constituencies closed last Friday and elections will be held on the 4th and 5th of October.