With the disruption caused because of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent campus restrictions, a whole host of UCD campus societies and organisations have had to adapt to continue functioning and interacting with the student body. The youth wings of the political parties are a prime example of such.
Amidst the adversity and uncertainty surrounding university life, like everyone else, they have been forced to become innovative and pragmatic in their plans for this academic term.
Many of these societies have historically gained their membership through sign-ups at the tent during Fresher’s Week. The move from the usual dynamic of the past to a virtual fair had caused fears to rise as to whether there would be a reduction in the number of new sign-ups the parties would be gaining.
However, in certain respects, it seems that many of these worries have not held much significance. Louis Brennan, Treasurer at the Kevin Barry Cumann of Ógra Fianna Fáil, explained that the society had “found this year’s virtual fresher’s week particularly different”, but that due to the co-ordination of the UCD Societies’ Council, opportunities have been provided for societies and potential members to meet.
Similar sentiments were shared by Thomas Maher, Chairperson at UCD Young Fine Gael, who added that going virtual had allowed them to meet many interested students and that this was beneficial given the circumstances. He mentioned that this year the branch has put a heavy focus on recruitment through social media and expressed that “as long as we host events students are interested in, we should have an active membership”.
One main problem that has arisen, though, has been due to the movement of previously routine events that have now had to be held online. Organising such events have proved quite problematic.
“Generally it has been quite challenging,” said Séan Grant, Auditor at UCD Labour, noting that the society had planned to run more outdoor events, such as river clean-ups and their annual “Mojito Night” which is usually held in the Red Room. Those plans have had to be put aside and the society now hopes to hold as many revamped online events as possible, numbering at least one a week.
The UCD Social Democrats have also taken to holding a sway of online events, including Netflix screenings, virtual coffee meet-ups and other political events. The committee has also organised for a specific Halloween Netflix screening in the coming weeks.
Therefore, even as Covid-19 has acted as somewhat of a barrier and has created many difficulties, the political youth-wings here at UCD seem to be living up to the test. Their various committees have worked tirelessly to revolutionise plans to build their base and to provide an enjoyable college experience as possible. Although challenging, it looks as if many have been successful.
Jack Collum – Politics Writer
Stephen Kennedy – Politics Correspondent