Carla Gummerson is a 32-year-old masters graduate in public policy from Bray, Wicklow. Gummerson is running to be re-elected for the position of University College Dublin Students’ Union (UCDSU) Graduate Officer. She spoke to The College Tribune on improving SU engagement, her manifesto, and events for next semester.
Gummerson began by speaking on her year as Graduate Officer. While she feels she did a “good job”, Gummerson did admit she “left one year master students behind.” Despite this, Gummerson feels she can only improve as she is “not learning the role again”.
Gummerson was then pressed on the issue of engagement with the SU. Last year, a by-election was needed for the Graduate Officer election, as the minimum number of voters was not met. The SU elections overall saw a record low 4% voter turnout.
She conceded that “there definitely is an engagement issue” and the SU “haven’t worked out how to show our wins, or what we can do for students.” Gummerson said that she wants to “engage more with class reps” with graduate students.
When asked about making the Graduate Officer role more enticing, Gummerson believes the problem lies in breaking down the “mystery” of what sabbatical officers do. “I know a lot of students who would be fabulous for this role, but it’s about telling them what the role entails. There is a bit of mystery surrounding the SU, and it’s about breaking that down.”
Gummerson believes that reducing international fees is “achievable” from the SU. “I don’t believe it’s an unrealistic request from International students. Gummerson also has called upon the Government to “step up in relation to publicly funded fees.” Gummerson further touched on UCDs reliance on international graduate fees, saying that publicly funded fees will “take away that reliance on international students.”
The Wicklow native also spoke on creating working spaces for graduate students on campus. However, when questioned on how she will execute this under Covid-19 restrictions, Gummerson “wouldn’t like to say we will be in person” (by September) and her approach “would be blended” between remote and on campus working. Despite this, she believes that having such working space on college would “allow undergraduate students to better understand what a PHD is.”
Gummerson’s final manifesto point surrounds bringing graduate students on a day trip around Ireland. The Tribune asked if she believes that the SU will have the budget to facilitate this. “It would be subsidised, and we would have to aim for the second semester. We can do it if it’s all in-line government guidelines.”
Finally, Gummerson was asked about the biggest problem graduate students are facing at the moment. Similarly, to Presidential hopeful Ruairi Power, Gummerson pointed towards fees as a big issue among graduate students: “Rising fees are the biggest problem. I would love to see publicly funded education. I don’t agree with student loans, we need to break down the barriers for access to education.”
Luke Murphy – Co-Editor