SU Candidates Debate at LGBT Soc Hustings
online serif;”>UCD’s LGBT Society held ‘Pink Hustings’ at 1pm today in the Blue Room. All candidates for the Sabbatical Officers position attended as did around 60 students. The debate was chaired by treasurer of the LGBTSoc, troche Daniel Ahlstrom.
Shane Comer, Sam Geoghegan and Patrick Wolohan, the candidates for Education Vice-President spoke briefly about their aims for the coming year if elected. Wolohan stated that he was largely to blame for not having a Gender Equality week this year as of yet, that it was one of his biggest regrets but that one would be held in accordance with Environmental Week.
Questions for the Campaigns and Communications candidates focused largely on what each person would do if he or she were to be elected. Aisling Sheerin informed the attendees that she strongly agrees with gay marriage and adoption. She believes that her passion about this issue will rub off on other people and inspire them to work towards supporting LGBT rights. Karl Gill commented on how if a national campaign on marriage equality is not launched by the current SU, he will launch one. He argued that he “knows the activism behind LGBT rights”.
Paddy Guiney stated that he wants to represent “every single student” and he hopes to be a facilitator for the LGBT community. Final candidate, James Atkinson agreed with his opponents and stated that he would hope to use innovative ways to get non-LGBT students on campus involved in LGBT campaigns and events.
Auditor, Michelle Crean, stated that under the new USI Constitution, the part-time LGBT Officer’s role has been merged with the officer charged with overseeing environmental and equality issues. Guiney stated that he believes this was a step forward for USI as it showed LGBT members were not being alienated. Sheerin disagreed with Guiney’s view as she feels that there is a need for a full-time LGBT Officer.
Atkinson’s response to the question was that if this resulted in USI not having enough time to work on the rights of LGBT members, he would lobby the Union but also continue to work to increase the awareness of UCD students. Gill did note this change but he also mentioned USI’s constitutional promise to provide Pink Training.
Current candidate for the Entertainments position, Eoin Heffernan, took the opportunity to ask the C&C candidates which of their opponents was the weakest. Atkinson, Guiney and Sheerin all stated that everyone brought good ideas to the role with Sheerin adding that she believed “negative campaigning is not what it should be about”. Gill informed the attendees that in his view, James Atkinson is the weakest candidate as he is “50% there”. Gill believes that his views on communications are good but he does not have the experience or ideas regarding the campaigning aspect.
Welfare candidates Enda Conway and Micheál Gallagher spoke about their ideas for the Welfare office, in particular with relation to LGBT rights. Conway stated that he plans to hold a welcoming drive on residences in the first two weeks, believing that integration into UCD life is a huge thing. He added that he did not specifically refer to LGBT students in his manifesto as he believes issues related to this are “the bread and butter” of his job, “you should know I will always be there for them”.
Gallagher told the attendees that he would hope to develop a strong working relationship with the LGBT auditor and hold a “coming out hour” each week. At this, students who are confused and wish to speak to someone would be able to talk to himself and the auditor. He also plans to hold a Pride march with the society in September or during Rainbow week. He would strongly encourage all students of any sexual orientation to attend.
The candidates were asked their thoughts on the recent complaints made against advertising campaigns from Midnight Promotions. Gallagher stated that if something like that arose during his year as Welfare Officer, he would work with the C&C Officer on developing a campaign protesting the issue. Conway added that he would ensure that an Ents night would never be involved with something like that.
Sole Entertainments candidate, Eoin Heffernan was asked if he would run an event for all students which would be LGBT themed. Heffernan acknowledged that it is “hard to run something which isn’t segregated” but he pointed to his background work in setting up ‘Outrage’, a LGBT night in Copper Alley. Heffernan mentioned the possibility of working with Trinity; hopefully bringing in income for the LGBT society.
Rachel Breslin was the last to speak. She mentioned that the Students’ Union is mandated to run a national LGBT campaign next year. Breslin promised that she would sit down with the C&C Officer and LGBT auditor in July and plan this out. On the subject of a national campaign, Breslin believes that, “people believe in it more than a fees protest”.
The current Welfare Officer stated that she voted yes to the new USI Constitution. Breslin argued that with regard to organising and building long term campaigns, it would be better to have a full-time officer under the equality umbrella.
Breslin told the College Tribune after the hustings that she would have liked to have spoken to the C&C candidates as “as a President, in terms of LGBT issues, I [would] provide so much support for the other officers”.