It’s the start of term, if you’re a new student you might not even know what the SU is, if you’re a returning student the only thing you might know is that most of this year’s got RONed last year. So how do you know whether they’re doing a good job?
The one thing you can hold all of the officers to, no matter what the coming year brings, is whether they replace themselves. The RON campaign was one of the worst moments in the recent history of UCDSU. It might not have gotten the national attention that the Ascough Fiasco had, but it highlighted the Union’s biggest problem… no one cares. It wasn’t the candidates fault, it wasn’t even last year’s team who bear the burden alone. The SU has been on life support for donkey’s years but the team this year seems to have the right diagnosis, now let’s see if it responds to treatment!
Legitimacy will be earned back slowly and it’s really difficult to say what the silver bullet will be, but along the way, there will be milestones the Union cannot afford to miss. The USI referendum can fail to pass, but it needs to hit its quorum. The election turnout must be better than last year and the races must be contested. The Union will protest, but it has to feel impactful, the Union will lobby management, but it has to bring change.
Hit these milestones and the Union can be taken off more than just life support, but let out of the ICU too!
The President: Molly Greenough
It takes a certain type of person to be the CEO of a commercial enterprise that generates €1 million a year, a political lobbyist, student campaigner, kinda-politician, media pundit, office manager and person all at one time. Different people react to the strain of the job better than others, some even get impeached. What a fiasco.
So far, Greenough has been a media fixture. Her appearance on Virgin Media’s Tonight show was a good start to the year and the highlight of a pre-semester press tour so populated I’m surprised Electric Picnic didn’t come knocking to cap off the month.
Hold your judgement, however, previous years’ Presidents have enjoyed infrequent media coverage on accommodation crises just like this. Siewierska featured during the ‘STOP the Rent Increase’ protest movement, Anderson was eminently quotable on Dolores Cahill and the kindanotreally No-Detriment Policy, and Power politicked his way through last Valentine’s Day (in a nice jumper too).
The real test is how you create media attention when the national papers aren’t already hunting for a story. It’s too early to tell just yet, but judge Greenough on whether she continues to make your dad say “There’s some young one on the radio from UCD” throughout the year.
You can judge her on whether she gets impeached too…
Campaigns and <Insert Buzzword> Officer: Robyn O’Keeffe
O’Keeffe has it almost as hard as her president, following Darryl Horan in the role won’t be easy. He was a political campaigner hardened in the mean streets of ehhh… County Laois and while Robyn has plenty of experience in SU campaigning, she is dropping into the job during one of the worst student crises in at least 6 months! The relatively small sample size of campaigns the union has had time to run so far have reflected strongly on her, the Digs Drive achieved national coverage and had the SU’s phones popping off the hook in the Student Centre.
The Great Donate is always a successful campaign but has shocked the Union with its attendance this year with a massive increase in demand this year. That either means the SU is playing a blinder or really highlights the dire straits that students find themselves in this year.
Judge the Campaigns Officer on whether you’ve heard that the SU has done anything recently and whether people actually vote in the next elections!
Education and Welfare Officers: Míde Nic Fhionnlaoich & Martha Ní Riada
These roles are at their best doing work you will never hear about. The Education and Welfare officers spend much of their time doing one-to-one casework with students in emotional or educational crises.
Though the Welfare to President Pipeline may mean you will see Nic Fhionnlaoich in the President’s office next year, her main job this year will be working with the Campaigns & Engagement Officer to coordinate at least two welfare-focused campaigns during the year, advocating for student welfare at a university level.
Ní Riada was the only victor of the Union’s only contested and RON-proof election last year, she seemed competent and confident. The voters trusted her with their academic woes, but now her main job will be advocating for students during plagiarism committees, campaigning to make your life easier and making students’ terrible decisions disappear!
A previous Education officer Brian Tracy once quoted that almost ¾ of his time was spent on casework! So the most important things they will do next year will never make the news, it’s almost impossible to grade them on their best work.
Graduate Officer: Marc Matouc
It seems mean to start Matouc’s section by talking about his predecessor, but as a wise woman, my sister, once said “I never claimed to be nice”! Marc Matouc follows in the footsteps left by two years of Carla Gummerson, that is not an easy feat. However, if he ever worries whether he can fill those boots, he should just remember, it’s Marc Matouc-an, not Marc Matouc-annot.
But it’ll take a lot more than crappy cliché for Matouc to generate the levels or Graduate engagement that the Union needs to have legitimacy in the Smurfit Campus. UCDSU has seen poor engagement with the Union in Smurfit far before I ever came to UCD. However, the trend in recent years has been bullish, the Union now has an office on that campus to house the 9th Graduate Officer.
Entertainment: Ciara Moroney
Left to last, but by no means the least important. Oh sorry, it’s ENTs, a role so important people wonder if it ought to even exist. This role is simple to judge: the ENTs officer has to run fun, decent events that people will actually remember and to enable the societies to run better events. Achieve this and your year is a success, the real challenge is not working for bingo loco…
Hugh Dooley – resident SU anti-hack and Co-Lead of Investigations