Amy Crean, a final year Law with Social Justice student, is one of six candidates in the Presidential race.
Increasing accommodation costs, both on and off campus, is a pressing issue. Crean wants to firstly ‘organise UCD protests to achieve reasonable demands.’ UCDSU has ‘consistently failed to mobilise students in a way that interacts with management effectively. Sit-ins, walk outs and marches are important to demonstrate that students are taking these issues seriously and assert the power that the student body holds.’
Based on experience, Crean believes the path to success in this area is to ‘tap into goals that students sincerely believe in, and to offer the organisation to achieve them’, with housing being a key student issue. When asked which organisations could be worked with on housing, Crean cited the Dublin Tenants Association ‘as their focus would align with that of students living off res’ and the National Homeless and Housing Coalition, as the pair ‘are two of the most active lobbying groups external to UCD that are working to tackle housing issues.’
Turning towards car parking, the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is always reluctant to allow UCD build more car parking spaces. Crean suggested that it was more of a local issue with the administration, and noted ‘there had been approved plans for a multi storey car park in UCD that were scrapped last year due to lack of funding, which again highlights that the issue is one of prioritisation of student needs – funds are available, we need to fight for their appropriate allocation.’
Welfare issues are a major area in the Presidential race, with the long-waiting list to see a counsellor commonly cited by candidates. Crean believes the key to addressing these issues links back to the broader aim of focusing on student mobility. Citing the high turnout in the impeachment referendum which showed a ‘serious rise in engagement’, it is clear that when ‘students are given a reasonable and accessible way to engage in an issue, they take that opportunity.’ UCDSU’s role is to make that engagement possible.
Accountability and Transparency
Union finances and accountability have been a topical issue over the past number of months. Crean said that ‘the SU website should include budgets of each event. Students pay a lot of money to the union, and they deserve to know what we do, how successful our events are, and how much of their money it costs.’ Similarly, ‘the publicisation of council minutes and meetings needs to be more effectively promoted, as does the option for students to attend council themselves and be given speaking rights.’
Crean, who was involved in the impeachment campaign against then-President Katie Ascough, was asked if this involvement would lead to more students feeling disconnected as their views would not be represented, if elected.
‘I don’t think so. The impeachment campaign was an example of the student body as a whole standing by the mandate it had set the union. Presidents need to set out clear and honest goals to be achieved. A role within the union means standing over democratic decisions, and it is fundamental to a union to take political stances. Achieving results means taking stances supported by a majority of students. Prioritising total unanimity sacrifices any results. I hope that my commitment to standing by democratic decisions made by the student population will mean more to voters than appearing uncontroversial.’
UCDSU Presidents’ campaign promises have often failed due to their heavy workload, such as committee work taking up a large portion of their time. Crean suggested the issue was not the committee work itself, but rather ‘a temptation for presidents to try to do everything on their own, and this simply is not possible.’ ‘Through years of student involvement, seeing the highs and lows and making real mistakes at times’, Crean has learned of the need to work as a team. ‘My successes haven’t come from my efforts alone, they’ve shown my ability to bring teams together to achieve results that we all support.’
An activism-based approach is a distinguishing factor in a competitive six-way race. It is asking voters to put their trust into Crean’s ability to increase student engagement, but is somewhat contradicted by a manifesto which is short on specific plans to increase said engagement in the first place.
Interview by Aaron Bowman – Politics Editor
Words by Cian Carton – Editor