At 6 pm on Thursday evening, the candidates for the upcoming UCDSU elections gathered in the UCD Village for the annual Hustings event.
This event provides students and student journalists from both university papers, the College Tribune and the University Observer, an opportunity to ask questions about manifestos and other points of interest. Although less than 40 people attended the event, the students present were encouraged to ask questions after each candidate’s speech, however, both newspapers were asked to submit their questions before the event.
Entertainments Officer: Ciara Moroney, the sole candidate in the race for Entertainments officer said that she hopes to hold workshops and talks on sexual violence and harassment to allow students to feel safer at events if she was elected. She spoke about having a designated liaison at every event to further these goals. Her plans for events focus on extending the accessibility of Ents events to all students by holding events in various locations around campus, such as the UCD Village in the hopes of engaging more students.
Welfare Officer: Next, Welfare Candidate, Míde took the floor to discuss her manifesto, explain her experience within the Union and take questions from the floor. Firstly, Míde was asked if the cases taken on by the Welfare Officer should instead be addressed by an accredited professional. However, Míde maintained that there is an importance and a need for peer to peer guidance. Additionally, she reminded the room that there is now an accommodation officer which has decreased the caseload for the Welfare Office but that in some cases professional help would be advised. Míde’s manifesto contains four main points mental health, housing sexual health, and student empowerment.
Campaigns & Engagement Officer: The sole candidate for the role, Robyn O’Keeffe said “It is a shame, I would have liked to have seen my race elected […] because I know I am the best person for the job!” when asked how she would address @UCDSU‘s ‘crisis of engagement’ in the Executive Elections. When asked if she would vote to join the USI, the candidate insisted that she would, when asked if this would further damage the union’s image and issues with engagement she argued that the USI, as a union of unions, could allow UCDSU to work with other SUs across Ireland who has achieved better engagement with students, such as the University of Limerick. Robyn took her last few minutes on the podium to explain that she cares about the role of campaigns and engagement and insists that she is taking the role as seriously as if the race was uncontested.
The President: Finally, the current Welfare Officer and the only candidate for President and CEO of UCDSU CSL, Molly Greenough took the floor. Asked if she thinks being elected in an uncontested race would have an impact on her legitimacy as President if elected, Greenough said “I would be lying if I said that was something I haven’t thought about, however, [the current Executive team] were all [elected] uncontested except Ruairi Power and I think we’ve done a good job this year.”
“I want to make it clear that I am not doing this for the CV, I just know that UCD is full of good people and I care about those people.” In response to concerns that uncontested elections may lead to difficulties in being recognized by UCD management, Greenough joked that the incoming UCD interim-President was also chosen without competition, “Mark Rogers you were also uncontested!” before arguing that “if elected I would be the chief spokesperson of the union, but I am not the union, the students are the union” and that she would aim to “respark messaging again and get people engaged.” Greenough noted that the union has a branding issue and that UCDSU should promote the real work that they do and showcase the behind the scenes work such as the peer-to-peer support we provide, to get people more interested in student politics. A speaker from the crowd asked what she would do to combat the elitist, clique mentality of the union,” I didn’t know people thought that about us, that’s the sort of thing people don’t say to your face” before mentioning that she would attempt to make running for class representative more accessible to students to counter this difficulty.
Education Officer: The only contested sabbatical race of the night was for the role of Education Officer with both Darragh Kane O-Toole and Martha Ní Ríada speaking late into the evening to the gathered students. O’Toole was asked about some “difficulties in having [his] election material shared on UCDSU socials” which he had mentioned in his interview with the College Tribune and whether he felt he had “been dealt with fairly by the Returning Office of the UCDSU?” by the panelists. O’Toole said that he “wished for more empathy” from the Returning Officer, Stephen Crosby, but that he understood that the rules in place had to be followed. Both candidates put heavy emphasis on the policy aspect of the role, speaking at length about how they would attempt to inform students better about their options when it comes to coursework and module choice. Martha Ní Ríada spoke briefly about the casework aspect of the job, although neither candidate put serious emphasis on that aspect of the role, despite it making up about half of the actual workload.
Hugh Dooley – News Editor