On Instagram, UCD Confessions has grown into a popular page where students convene in the digital sphere to share their UCD horror stories and laugh about the college experience. The person behind the account has been an enigma and chooses to remain anonymous in the content they provide. While the account rarely sports controversial content, mostly posting people’s sexual encounters and attractions anonymously, in the last few days two posts have been released that question the legitimacy of UCDSU’s nomination regime and sabbatical positions.
Now that UCD Confessions has become involved in the 2022 student elections, since it claims to speak after receiving “hundreds of confessions”, questions can be raised. One can question the impact and influence this social media account can have in spreading information, whether an anonymous figure can claim to speak for students on a mass scale and on the user’s comprehension of the UCDSU’s inner workings.
In their post, UCD Confessions called for a re-opening of nominations for the SU elections due to the supposed poor representation that was present on the ballot this election cycle. The individual behind these posts has stripped down the complexities of the SU sabbatical roles and the low engagement of UCD students choosing to only see an uncontested race. From a critical standpoint, one can go so far as to say the first post spreads false information in its claim that “5 out of the 6 candidates are all from the same courses: Law with Social Justice or Sociology.” A simple look at the positions available and the candidate’s manifesto makes clear this is not entirely true. Only three candidates are actually in the Law with Social Justice course and one is in Sociology, a degree typically categorized as an arts degree. The post also does not specify which students are prevented from undertaking a sabbatical position and why (but does so in a second post). The misinformation present in this post speaks to a prevalent issue of any individual’s ability to spread false information through the internet to incite discourse.
UCD Confession has not considered the wider political implications of why various races are uncontested beyond the issue of international students and students who are not Irish nationals being unable to run due to their visa status. While this is an extremely important issue, this is not necessarily within the scope of the SU’s power. What is more at issue is student engagement from outside the Union was not quite addressed. COVID-19 has resulted in a decrease in student participation in various activities and as time progress this is likely to change as students integrate back into on-campus life.
It is difficult to dismiss what is being posted on the UCD Confession page completely as it puts into perspective the need for more diversity within the SU, representation for international students and the issue with sabbatical positions. It is clear that it has at least placed pressure on the SU as current UCDSU president Ruairi Power released a statement on the matter on 26 March via Twitter, acknowledging the Union has not had enough people from migrant backgrounds running and the intention to sit down with students in the coming week on how to rectify the situation. It is easy to dismiss that UCD Confessions may have more power than it knows what to do with if students are reading controversial posts at face value and if the anonymous user behind the account believes he is representing the student voice by merely reading messages anyone can send in.
Danielle DerGarabedian – Political Correspondent