UCD Students Union In Breach Of Own Mandates
This article is an updated version of the article under the same headline that appeared in the print edition of The College Tribune on the 20th of November 2018. This update was made to accommodate the comments received from the SU after the print deadline.
The Tribune has learnt of significant failings on the part of Campaigns and Communications officer Tom Monaghan both in his breaching SU mandates and failing to communicate effectively with Class Representatives and College Officers.
These issues have been ongoing since before Monaghan stepped into the role over the summer, with at least three key C&C mandates being disregarded by him alongside serious concerns raised by numerous members of the Union at the lack of Communication coming from him and the SU as a whole.
One of the major areas that fall under C&C officers control is the maintaining and updating the Students Union website. The mandate which was passed by Council on the 26th of this year ‘mandates that the president and the campaigns and communications Officer work to redevelop the Students Union website, ideally over the summer of 2018’. Since then the website branding has been brought in line with the new SU brand style, but many of the College Officers and pages are out of date. Additionally, no minutes of SU Council or the SU Executive have been published on the site since the 24th of October last year.
At the latest SU Council, when questioned on this by Class Reps, Monaghan said that he did not have the requisite skills to update the website, despite being mandated to do so. This also is contrary to what has been said in the past about the website, where difficulties accessing the website to edit it due to the staff member who had the password to it taking extended sick leave were cited as the reason the website has not been updated. All of this raised the question of how the branding and colour scheme of the website was updated at all if the SU allegedly neither has the skills nor access to the website.
Responding to this Monaghan said that they had engaged a professional over the time summer to overhaul the website and that ‘they highlighted that our current system is not user-friendly enough for its purpose and we are currently changing our provider which will then make it much more accessible to the entire sabbatical team.’
A further mandate breach has occurred on the part of UCD SU President Barry Murphy, who according to sources failed to establish a committee to take suggestions for the future development and maintenance of the website. This committee was due to submit a report to the SU Council at the end of the last academic year, though Class reps who were on the Council at the time report that this did not occur. As there are no public minutes of the Council meetings from last year, or indeed any year since 2015, there exists no public record of whether or not this report was in fact submitted to the council.
A key function of the UCD SU website is to disseminate the minutes and associated documents from both the SU Council and the SU Executive meetings. Under the UCD SU Constitution minutes from Exec meetings are due to be published no more than one month after they are approved by the Exec, and under a mandate passed on the 29th of January this year, the C&C officer is mandated to work with the Secretary to ‘to ensure that all important documentation such as the policy book and the minutes from the council and the executive meetings be published online (after removing any sensitive or confidential information) within 14 days of them being approved.’
The Students Union facebook page posted a link to all available Executive Minutes on the 16th of November, a day after they had received a requestion for comment on that issue and others from the College Tribune. College officers also report that only three minutes have been made available to them.
Furthermore, Class Reps have reported that key documents for Council such as Campaign Coordinator reports have not been circulated in time for Council, despite the fact that many of these reports are taken as reading meaning that unless they have them in advance, they are unaware of what is in them.
Some of these reports have still not been circulated to Class Reps.
Alongside this, Monaghan is mandated as of 2016 to provide significant updates to students on what discussions occur at Council via the Students Union social media platforms. Thus far this year no Council updates have been provided to students on either Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The only live source of updates that have been present at Councils has come from either The College Tribune or the Univesity Observer.
At the SU town hall on Monday the 19th to discuss the new SU Constitution and student centre development it was noted that the SU was occasionally tweeting from their Twitter account. This was after questions had been asked by the Tribune to the SU about this mandate. Monaghan noted that this was an area that they were seeking to improve on in semester two.
A key document that is maintained by the C&C officer is the Policy book, which contains all the currently active mandates that the Union is bound by. This book is meant to be made available to Class Reps and College Officers in time for the first Union Council, in addition to being available online. This book was only made available to College Officers and Class Reps after the last Council due to complaints from the floor about the lack of information coming from the Union. The fact that this book has been made available has not well advertised to Reps, however, and some have reported that they have not in fact received it as of the time of writing.
Class Reps report that it is common practice for the Union to simply place documents into the shared Google Drive without notifying them via email, meaning that important documents can appear without notice and easily be lost in the disorganised drive.
Monaghan noted that the SU is not mandated the provide the policy book by a certain date, and that class reps were provided with copies of the book after training.
Access to this drive, important documents and information and upcoming events and training is dependent on whether or not Reps have been successfully added to the SU Master mailing list. This list according to sources close to the Union is not only beset by certain technical issues meaning that even if members are on it they may not get emails but is also that certain aspects of it are incorrect or incomplete, with Reps being listed under incorrect names or constituencies. These issues have been raised to the Union but have not as of yet being resolved.
UCD SU was sent questions by the Tribune on the 15th of November about these issues. A response was not received until the 19th at which point the paper had already gone to print.
By Aaron Bowman – CoEditor