The hustings held on 20th of November for the Presidential bye-election between Rebecca Hart and Barry Murphy were a very calm affair, especially compared to the impeachment referendum that preceded them. The event hosted jointly by L&H and the Law Society found itself meandering between numerous different points and never settling on a theme. The night followed a simple layout with candidates each making an opening speech explaining their experience and platforms followed by questions from the audience.
Ms Hart Opened the night saying that she has been involved with the SU since her first year on campus, first as a class rep and then later as the Health Science College Officer. She says she is running on a platform of “Accessibility, affordability and approachable”, aiming to make the union more open to the students of UCD. She highlighted the inability of students to access SU services due do how overburdened these services are or for disabled students to access certain parts of campus. She also wants to make life on campus more affordable particularly looking at the external food and restaurants on campus as many of these facilities tenders run out in March. Finally, Ms Hart wishes to make the UCD and the SU more approachable.
Mr Murphy in his opening speech highlighted his experience in the SU since being elected Campaigns and Communications offer in March and his experience as acting SU President since October. He said that the SU needed to respect the mandates it has received and work to restore student’s faith in it. He highlighted his work on the House Hunter campaign during the summer, Freshers Fest and March for Choice. He expressed his desire to launch a governance review designed to limit the power of the President to ensure that the situation that led to Katie Ascough’s impeachment earlier this year. He also wishes to highlight the amount of casework the Sabbatical Officers do as it is a key part of the work of the SU. He further outlined a plan to introduce online voting for SU elections and referendums as a way of increasing student engagement.
Following opening speeches questions from the floor were directed to the candidates. Many of these centered around the practicalities of implementing their manifestos given their shorter term in office. Ms Hart said that all her promises were achievable within the shorter term and that she hoped that any that may not be fully implemented would be strong enough to be carried on be the next President. Mr Murphy said he wanted to ensure the SU was set up for the next five years by March with the completion of a governance review and the replacement of permanent UCD SU staff who have seen their contracts expire or have resigned in recent months.
Other questioned were based around the experience of each of the candidates both within the SU and otherwise. Ms Hart talked about her time as a Class Rep and later a college officer for Health Sciences where she was involved in the running of numerous student events including the Arts ball in 2014 and the Health Science Ball in 2017. She also talked about her involvement in the Marriage equality campaign as a College Officer. Mr Murphy said that he had been involved in numerous campaigns since March in his C&C role including the House Hunters campaign over the simmer and the March for Choice in September.
Other questions including those regarding practicalities of Ms Hart stepping into the position with such a steep learning curve (Hart saying she “Would work with the team and looks forward to the challenge”) and how Campaigns would function with Murphy stepping up to President (He highlighted the campaigns team used during the Marriage Equality referendum). Closing remarks allowed each candidate their final opportunity to pitch themselves to the audience. Ms Hart simply stated that “I Have the experience needed and I have the compassion to help every student on campus” coming back to her core promises of Accessibility, Affordability and Approachable. Mr Murphy reminded the crowd that he didn’t want this job in the first place, but he is doing what he believes is the right thing to bring stability back to the Union.
Voting is on Wednesday the 22nd and Thursday the 23rd of November.
Aaron Bowman – Politics Editor