Karl Gill talks to Conor Fox about his plans for the Campaigns and Communications Vice-Presidency
We need a completely new strategy … we need new ideas, new voices, new people”. The second candidate in the running for Campaigns and Communications Vice-President, Karl Gill, is arguably the outsider in the race. Telling the College Tribune that he wouldn’t consider himself “as part of the ‘clique’,” his manifesto states that he wants to make the Students’ Union inclusive and an organisation with which students will want to engage.
He criticises the present Union; “they’ve an attitude that they don’t like to be questioned … that’s the attitude of the SU ‘clique’ if you will; that there’s the mass student body and then there’s them, and anyone who questions that authority is just shot down”. Gill references past dealings he has had with Union members, alleging that he’s “had some not very nice things said about me online in particular by some people who are quiet high up in the Union and I don’t think that’s acceptable behaviour”.
Gill believes that there is a huge disparity between the student body and the Union, stating that people don’t “even know the name of the Campaigns and Communications Officer”. On the subject of Brendan Lacey, he feels that the work Lacey did for the anti-fees campaign in conjunction with Pat de Brún and USI was “quite good, but since then it’s been quite bad”. He points to the lack of notification about nominations for Sabbatical Officers.
If elected, the second year Social Science student hopes to introduce the ‘Union News’, newsletter printed up and distributed at least every two weeks to inform students of what’s going on in a regular basis; “students tend to skip over the emails … but people waiting around for a lecture or tutorial … if there’s a news letter there … people will pick it up and have a quick read of it”.
Gill wants to involve more students in work around campaigns; “there needs to be a group of people who are actively engaging in … promoting and informing students [about] what’s happening with the union … I think that’s crucial”. He is also adamant that students should be informed where and when Union Council will occur; “it’s disgraceful that only reps hear about [it]”.
The Auditor of the Socialists’ Workers Party is particularly concerned with education being free for all students and was actively involved with the November march for ‘free fees’. His fellow candidates for the C&C position have spoken about a “realistic” approach, but Gill’s view is that “the fact that we’re in a horribly economic crisis is even more of a reason to demand that we have free education because students are suffering to pay the fees we already have”.
Talking about the proposed referendum on UCDSU’s stance on free fees, Gill expressly tells the Tribune that if the result shows that students wish to follow a different proposal, he will resign as Campaigns and Communications Officer.
He is running on the stance of free education for all and thinks “it would be completely two faced to get up and say I want a graduate tax when [I] don’t … it’s fair of me to step down and let someone who does agree with the new proposal to take it on”.
He believes UCDSU could “do with having a break from USI to get our own heads together” but that completely disaffiliating wouldn’t be ideal. Gill thinks that the national student movement “needs to be seen as a force to be reckoned with” and that USI has become too bureaucratic; “student activists in the 1960s would be crying looking at our student leaders today”.
Gill also opines that the proposed SU Constitution is overly bureaucratic and that it just makes the Union more impersonal. He particularly disagrees with the idea of paying conveners. This extends to his view on class reps, believing that reps “should be representing the class to the union not the union to the class”. Gill criticises training saying that at it “there’s almost an inoculation of union loyalty to the Sabbatical Officers”. If elected, he will bring it on-campus as “there’s no reason why we should be paying for a free holiday”.
Gill believes that he stands over the other candidates due to his “history of being an activist and of organising protests … I’ve got far better ideas in relation to communications”. He hopes that his view for a new democratic Students’ Union would bring in people with other opinions: “it’s numbers that change things, not heroes and individuals.”
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