try serif;”>On Wednesday January 18th the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) introduced a renewed constitution with Gary Redmond opening the new congress asserting that he wanted the USI to remain fit for purpose. The Union claims that the aim of changing the constitution was to hopefully create “an organisation that is more accountable, open and transparent to membership.”
One of the new provisions of the constitution is that current officers can now run for a third year in the same position that they currently hold. Previously an officer was only allowed to hold his or his position for two years, and then run for a third year in another position. Redmond defends the change by stating “the provisions of the new constitution have not extended the amount of time a student may be a member of officer board but have revoked the two year rule.” The Union believes that this new arrangement will aid the development of the continuity of the board. This provision will allow current president Gary Redmond to run for the position of presidency for the third year in a row.
New provisions will now allow board members running for a 2nd or 3rd term to achieve a higher salary. The basis behind this decision is that board members running for a second or even third term have more experience and “increased productivity” than when they first took up post at the USI and as such should receive a financial reward. It should also save the costs of training new officers. These salary increases will ultimately be decided on by the finance committee and will continue to be matched to a salary grade of civil servants. Although Gary Redmond himself is a member of the finance committee, he will not have the freedom to control his own salary due to the wide membership of the committee. There would potentially be an increase of €20 per week. At Council on Tuesday 19th of January, Pat de Brún stated that the majority of the USI’s budget is spent on wages.
Other changes in the new constitution involve the composition of the current officer board. All of the officers below the president shall now be referred to as vice-presidents. The positions of Environmental Officer and LGBT Officer will be merged into one department to be known as Equality and Citizenship. Each vice-president will have an advisory panel to provide support on issues where it may be needed.
On top of this, the new constitution provides that every motion will be passed separately where previously it was possible for motions to be passed as a group. The Union feels that this encourages the transparency of the board to the student body which it represents.
The Union has also decided to bring in professional staff whom will hold full time positions in replacement of some of the officer positions which have been removed. Some of the new staff will look after policy issues which the union hopes will again enforce continuity if and when new boards members are elected.
Brendan Lacey, Campaigns and Communications Vice-President of the UCDSU, stated at Council that although the USI Constitution was not circulated to students before the vote, it was examined thoroughly by the Executives. There were three concerns which arose; removal of card voting and the removal of the Campaigns Officer and Irish Officer. These were all met by the USI.