A petition calling for the impeachment of UCD student’s union (UCDSU) president Katie Ascough has appeared online this evening and will be distributed on campus from tomorrow. The petition which reads “We the undersigned students of UCD support the removal of the current UCDSU President from Office by Impeachment Referendum” was started by a number of students on campus. The petition was posted on the “Impeach UCDSU President” Facebook page this afternoon. The page was founded by second year politics and sociology student Finn McLysaght.
The page which was founded after the “Winging It” reprint controversy. One post on the page reads:
“UCDSU President Ascough spent thousands of euro of our money to censor information about accessing safe terminations abroad and safe abortion pills online. This act, unsupported by the other sabbatical members of the SU makes clear Ascough’s dishonesty in her statement that she would “delegate” issues regarding abortion within UCDSU. Ascough is not delegating but is actively, and overtly overriding the stance of the SU and of UCD students. UCD students have voted multiple times to remain a pro-choice university and the UCDSU President’s attempts to undermine this are anti-democratic and shameful.
We demand the SU disperse the information censored by President Ascough and maintain their stance as unambiguously pro-choice.”
Finn and his fellow students Sadhbh MacLachlainn and Amy Crean explained the reasoning behind the petition saying “Katie Ascough is preventing students from accessing information on healthcare previously made accessible to them. When you say you will delegate and you don’t delegate that is inherently undemocratic. She’s unable to take the morals out of her position as president” added Amy.
“People are furious because it’s their money that’s been wasted and students are strapped for cash as is. She using money that we give to our union to push her own agenda and to censor our union’s prochoice stance”.
Amy also pointed out it’s not just about money “It’s about the fact that democratically it’s supposed to represent our views as it’s a pro-choice union. It’s supposed to look out for our welfare and denying information to healthcare access is prioritising her views over student wellbeing”.
“She’s refusing to engage with the issue at all. It’s all about PR not about students” added Sadbh.“It’s always been Katie Ascough first, UCD students second”.
According to the UCDSU Constitution, a referendum can only be called by the Returning Officers on the written petition of not less than 3.5% of the total registered membership of the Union. This means the petition requires approximately 1,200 signatures from students in order for an impeachment referendum to be called by the Returning Officer. If enough signatures were gained and the referendum ahead, of quorum of between 2,500-3,000 votes would need to be cast. Of these a majority would need to vote in favour impeachment.
In 2016, 64% of students voted to retain the SU’s pro-choice position on the issue of the 8th amendment. The referendum was called by a group named ‘UCD Students for Fair Representation’ who felt that students who didn’t describe themselves as pro-choice felt alienated by the SU’s position. Katie Ascough campaigned for the SU to become neutral on the issue at the time.
Update: UCD for Choice has announced it will support the petition. Read the story here.
Rachel O’Neill – Editor