Current Position: Campaigns & Communications Officer/Acting President
Main policy: Improving RAG Week.
Other policies: Implementing electronic voting for SU elections, making the work of the SU more accessible.
Cringiest line in manifesto: ‘I’ve worked heavy winters on our family farm at home in Carlow, pulled pints and waited tables. I have never worked harder than I have for UCD students since June’.
In a presidential race where background is incredibly important, current C+C Officer Barry Murphy is attempting to be as transparent as possible. In doing so, he wants to highlight the work the SU are doing to help students. ‘It’s having a platform to explain what those roles [SU Sabbatical Officer] entails such as showing students how we can represent them at res hearings or showing them the kind of casework we do by giving some examples such as students coming in who are suicidal or pregnant or who need an abortion and it’s important that students realise that we offer that service not to make ourselves look good but that they know it’s there so they can feel that they can go to the student’s union”. To do this, Murphy wants to put the reports of each executive officer up on noticeboards around the SU where students can view them. He also wants to livestream union council meets in a bid to show students the work of the SU.
One of Murphy’s main goals is to make RAG week bigger for UCDSU in general. To do this he wants to take the same approach as they did with Orientation Week where Murphy saw much larger engagement with the SU ending up with the largest amount of class rep candidates ever. His vision for RAG week is similar whereby he wants to improve the sense of community in UCD around RAG week. “My approach would be to make more small scale events on campus during the day.” Murphy also wants to acknowledge students who make a big contribution to UCD life who aren’t necessarily acknowledged by the college itself. “The SU is going to acknowledge those students next RAG week. We’re going to have 3-4 celebratory events each day across campus, someone will step forward and we’d give them some sort of recognition. That way, people will be walking by the branding which will be “UCD RAG Week Acknowledges” and will be like ‘There’s UCD RAG week, I saw that coming out of my lecture, there was a bit of buzz around it, I wonder what nights are on tonight?”. Last year UCD RAG week raised €16,000 which Murphy feels is not enough and is the main driver in his bid to make RAG week bigger and better.
Like Rebecca Hart, Barry Murphy wants to help ease the pressure on the Counselling Service. To do this he wants to create a separate UCD SU Welfare Fund. ‘We have reserves within our shops to transfer money to sponsor a welfare fund. I’ve spoken to the board about it already and it’s something that Eoghan [Mac Domhaill] can justify and we can then ask “does this student deserve this funding?”. There is currently a general UCD Welfare fund but as Murphy points out the application process for that is “slow” and “students will get it for certain reasons and not for others”. Murphy also believes pressure should be placed on UCD itself to improve mental health services. “We need pressure from students. One idea would be a video where I go up and attempt to get an appointment to be told I have to wait 5 weeks to highlight how bad it is and then do a comparison with somewhere like Galway where they have a great counselling service. I think they [UCD] have to be called out on it and shamed into it”. Similar to Hart, Murphy wants to “explore the possibility of putting a councillor behind the Welfare Office”. The idea is that SU would have a designated councillor whereby if a student comes to the Welfare Officer who is feeling suicidal, the Welfare Officer can send the student to this councillor and pay for their transport there and back too.
Another key campaign promise from Murphy is to bring in electronic voting, something which has been promised for many years by many sabbats. Both UCD and the Returning Officer are supportive of the idea of electronic voting but up until now it has been UCD’s responsibility to design a platform that would work rather than the SU. The problem has been that UCD students have not been forced to change their SISWeb password which means their default password which is their date of birth could easily be hacked and used to sway voting by society auditors if they wished. From this December, students will be forced to change their password or else they’ll be looked at which removes that problem. “We’ve met with other students unions where the voting mechanism is within their own website which comes away from SISWeb and we’re looking at a two step authorisation process where you put in your student number and get a code sent to your phone and then you vote.” It’s very much bringing the solution to the university which makes it harder for UCD to ignore them in Murphy’s eyes.
What slightly overshadows Murphy is the impeachment referendum and the fact that he campaigned against Katie Ascough and is now running to replace her. How can UCD students trust him? “If you told me last March that I’d be involved in the impeachment year, I probably would have said “You’re alright I’ll go back to the farm”. We were best friends, the five of us over the summer and I trusted the 4 of them with anything and that’s what made coming out to campaign against Katie Ascough so difficult”. It’s clear that what happened between Murphy and Ascough wasn’t easy to deal with. “I was put in a situation where I was made to look like a fool and I was completely against what she had done, not because of myself but because of how it affected students. In the end I had to decide between what was right and what was easier. It was easier for me to keep my head down and I knew coming out [to campaign against her] would be perceived as bullying but I had to put all those worries aside and focus on what I was elected to do and to have the truth heard”.
“Students can trust me. If I wanted to be President in March and as soon as she was impeached I would have jumped at it and said “This is my time”. I spoke to my family and friends inside and outside UCD and got a range of opinions. I gave myself a deadline and stuck to that decision. I’m doing this again not because it’s the easiest thing to do but because I want to leave UCDSU and look back if having been the President, that I have helped set this place up for another more fruitful few years without the drama of the impeachment year and to get it back on track with the services, the events and the reputation that it’s supposed to be provide”.
It’s clear that Barry Murphy is passionate about UCDSU and wants to help students as much as he can. He may not have the 5 years experience that Rebecca Hart does however, being Vice President and Acting President in what has been a tough semester for everyone in UCDSU could be classed as invaluable as is something that Hart does not have. The impeachment scandal is an easy thing to throw at Murphy but students must look beyond that at what his policies are before making their final decision. The fact that Murphy wants a governance review to take power away from the President to prevent executive decisions being made without the team is something not to be overlooked and could play into his hands if students go for it.
Rachel O’Neill – Editor