Christine Brown, a final year Archaeology student, is one of two candidates running for UCDSU Undergraduate Education Officer.The Tribune spoke to Brown about her campaign.
Brown intends to publish an ‘Education Guide’ for students. ‘It’s basically a guide where it’s all this information that pretty much explains terms you don’t understand when you first come to college, like GPA, or module or elective choice, structured electives that kinda stuff, and then everything up to like a basic guide to extenuating circumstances, Now I know obviously you can’t cover everything, but it would aim to incorporate as much as possible, and most importantly it needs to go online.’
Brown thinks ‘too much of the Union stuff is done on paper, and in fairness if someone is up worrying at one or two in the morning, and they don’t have the paper guide, they can just go online… and have the answer right there in front of them.’ ‘You know how Wingin It teaches you stuff about UCD? There’s not actually much about it in on education at all, I know that’s not the purpose of it, but it would be similar to it and online.’
Changes to Arts
Next year will see the introduction of a new Arts degree for incoming first years. ‘There’s going to be quite a lot of problems with the cross over period, she noted that Archaeology is moving to Social Science, ‘that’s a big change for us.’ Brown ‘thinks the main thing for the Education Officer at that time is to stay in contact with the students about it and be ‘look, it’s a new system, everyone is kinda learning, the lectures in the Department are learning.’ She concluded, ‘it’s going to be a bit turbulent but hopefully we’ll deal with it the best we can.’
Resit and Repeat Fees.
Brown mentioned the ongoing committee which is looking at repeat and resit fees. She left it out of her manifesto as she cannot affect the issue a present. She stated that if ‘we don’t get the answer that we are looking for, that basically if UCD don’t ty and do something serious to try and fix that problem, I would recommend that we go down the similar route of Take Back Trinity and do something completely radical if that’s the only way the University are going to listen.’
Brown wants to ‘lobby for more tutorials.’ She noted what a person studied there is a vast difference in tutorials and exam feedback. She would use class reps or run online surveys to find out which subjects need more of them, and referenced Science being under supported. While she acknowledged it depends on a case by case basis, the plan appears overly ambitious and complex.
Brown was aware of UCD’s new draft Academic Regulations, and wants to push for increased assignment feedback.’ If elected, she would run a ‘how to deal with lectures’ part of Class Rep training as ‘I feel a lot of class reps are worried if they go in and talk to a lecturer that they’re going to mark them down in the exam at the end of the year, or if the cause too many problems they’re not going to get the elective place they wanted or whatever. I think academics, whenever I’ve dealt with them, have been very receptive, provided you do it the right kind of way.’
Brown’s ideas for student led grinds are based on her experience hosting coffee mornings as Auditor of the Archaeology Society. There, students in older years help out the younger ones with education issues. She wants to run a similar system, ‘whereby tutors or grinds-givers will be paid by coffee vouchers or pizza on the day.’ It can be a couple times a semester, using a google form for sign ups, based on a casual approach.
Browne mentioned reading an interview from an Education Officer which stated they were approached a couple of times a year about the grinds file and noted ‘there’re having a look at the Constitution at the minute, so I’d recommend that that’d get slightly changed in the wording’ as keeping a grinds file ‘is grand but a little bit outdated.’
Brown was critical of UCDSU’s upskilling events. ‘Upskilling in the past in the SU has not worked out that well. They kinda run strange ones. Not strange ones, but they kinda run unusual ones and I felt like they weren’t really that helpful in actually employing students.’ One of the three listed on her manifesto is the Safe Pass, ‘a cert that says you are competent on a building site’, which she described as ‘handy enough and we’d be able to do it subsidised through the Union.’ Safe Pass courses cost around €100.
Brown found dealing with SUSI ‘quite confusing’ and believes many students get confused, fail to fill it out correctly, then get rejected, while ‘a lot of students don’t realise if you work part time and your wages go over a certain amount, you then might not qualify for SUSI.’ Brown ‘envisions one SUSI drive at the very very start of this academic year and then one SUSI drive at the end of the next academic year, so basically it catches two years.’ Running it at the end of April or March for the student body, It is part of a trial and error.
Browne is against rejoicing USI ‘100%. I don’t feel like for the money we’d have to pay to reaffiliate and for what they’re offering, as a student body, I don’t feel like it’s worth it.’ She did note that co-operating with USI is beneficial as ‘student voices in general are lounder when they are together.’
Making UCDSU More Approachable
Brown said that Union ‘is seen as quite a clique’ while ‘people don’t associate the corridor with being somewhere you can just go in to and have a chat or go into for help if you need it.’ UCDSU needs to get back into the buildings and talking to students as ‘no one wants to come down to the corridor, that’s just really intimidating to walk into a place you don’t know.’ ‘I think that often with the Union, students don’t hear from them for a while, and then it’s exams, and it’s suddenly all in everyone’s face, and everyone’s like ‘I’m trying to study, please leave me alone.’ She mentioned Richview and Newstead, where the Architectural Society operates as their Union as they do nothing with the actual SU. ‘For them walking in to them right before exams is not helpful, you need to get out there like in the first couple of weeks.’
‘I feel like Education out of all of them is the one whose not in the public, out there talking to the public. The way it kinda goes is they represent a lot more to the university, which is fine because that’s the role, but I feel like if someone wants help their less likely to go [see them], the Welfare Officer tends to be known around campus.’
Brown has been critical of UCDSU for not being visible and approachable enough around campus. Her plans to change it will have to be balanced with an already heavy workload, on top of further plans to press for further tutorials.
Cian Carton – Editor