With only one position contested in this year’s race for sabbatical success, The College Tribune sits down with the candidates for Campaigns and Communications. First up, final year veterinary nursing student Sam Blanckensee.
Blanckensee is a veteran activist with a background in campaigning which unquestionably affords him the most experience of this year’s panel of candidates. This experience, he hopes, will translate well into representing the interests of UCD’s student population to the university and beyond.
Of note in his manifesto is the idea of lobbying UCD for the introduction of policies in specific areas such as provisions for those with disabilities and for transgender students. While the lobbying itself is the bread and butter of the work of a students’ union, what is particularly interesting is the idea of using this experience to create a ‘how-to’ guide to engaging with UCD in order to see such lobbying to a successful conclusion.
The nature of a students’ union and the short sabbatical terms which go with is that long term strategy can be difficult to see through. The creation of such a resource for the Union to draw on would be immensely beneficial in closing the knowledge gaps which can open up between successive office-holders and
While only one small element of Blanckensee’s extensive manifesto, this ‘how-to’ could potentially be the key to unlocking a far more effective UCDSU and is certainly worthy of further investigation regardless of which candidate proves successful.
Also interesting is the proposal to bring an element of professionalism to student representation by offering beneficial training to those who put themselves forward for class rep and convenor positions. The voluntary work undertaken by these reps could well see a boost from such training while also attracting fresh blood by offering something more than an extra line on a CV.
With C&C having only been reinstated this year, Blanckensee acknowledges that there have been challenges which have hampered the success of the role. Criticism has been levied at current C&C officer Cian Byrne over his communication of the work he has done this year at Union Council. While there have been many campaigns undertaken in this term, awareness of this has been limited among the wider student body.
With the role of C&C having been abolished following the 2012/2013 academic year, Blanckensee feels that bringing the work of C&C to the attention of the wider student body has been a challenge. He ascribes this to the difficulty in re-establishing the role’s presence on campus, praising Byrne’s work this year and expressing hope that he can build on these foundations during his term.
Voting in the C&C race takes place tomorrow, March 8th and Wednesday, March 9th, with the majority of faculties voting on Wednesday. Polling stations and times are available here. You can view Sam’s manifesto here.
- Seán O’Reilly, Editor