Sarah Michalek says she is running for Students’ Union (SU) Entertainments (Ents) Officer “primarily because I want to give back the amazing experience that I got through my undergrad and my master’s.” She is a master’s student in Psychological Science and is running unopposed for the SU’s Ents Officer. Michalek is the current Mental Health Coordinator for the SU and was formerly the Auditor of UCD’s Hispanic Society. The Ents role consists of organising the Union’s sociable events, charitable drives and chairing the SU Entertainments Forum. We have interviewed Michalek and all other SU Election candidates, grilling them on their manifesto promises which can be found on social platforms online.
Michalek (21) makes specific manifesto promises such as “mocktail mixology classes.” When asked where she saw the student demand for this, she says it was suggested to her by one student. Michalek aims to also cater for non-drinkers when planning events next year.
In her manifesto, Michalek promotes healthy meals on an affordable budget, promising to “get [the Happy Pear] in next year.” She has yet to reach out to the Irish duo to gauge the feasibility of this idea, but explains: “I’m kind of going off of the success of Blindboy and the fact that Tom [Monaghan] was able to get him in.” Michalek explained that if she pitched the idea to the Happy Pear, given the student demand for such an event, “they might be interested.”
She also proposes an “Ents Workshop Series” which would provide free workshops in event management, budget travel, public speaking and barista training. We asked her where she saw the demand for the workshops, Michalek responded saying “these are things that I personally thought were cool, and I would have liked to do.” She also suggested her plans were subject to change: “I will at the same time be putting up polls on the ‘entstagram’, you know, to ask students ‘is this what you want?’ This kind of suggestion is on my part. If needs be, they can be changed. […] I’ll be very engaging with students.”
Michalek promises a number of items outside of the remit of Ents Officer. She promises to introduce portable chargers made available from the SU, to be lent to students for use in the libraries. When asked why this wasn’t already implemented, she responds: “I don’t know, I haven’t really heard anybody talk about it before. […] I’d be happy to introduce it.” When pushed if she knows how much this would cost, Michalek responds: “No. So, what I’m going to do is. I kind of have a very brief idea of how much they will be aroundabout. But I’m going to sit down with Dee who will be in charge of [the] finances of the SU, the President, look at my budget and see how much we can do.” The Ents budget has cost steadily over €30,000 in the past couple years and is allocated based on the plans of the Ents Officer each year.
When asked when the portable charger scheme would be implemented, Michalek says: “Well, I’ll be working on a lot of these things over the summer period now. So, a lot of them are kind of ready to go. I don’t have a specific time length as of yet, again I would rather not straight up say ‘oh I’m definitely going to do this by this time’ before I know for sure.”
Michalek offers to tackle the issue of student apathy by “targeting as many students as possible” to reach out to, and explains that low engagement levels may be a symptom of the times we’re in. The candidate also stresses her plans to widely connect with students: “I think I’ll have a big push on communicating with the students. […] I would really try to ask the students: “Hey, what do you want? What would you actually like to see.”
The Ents candidate promises to organise “cost-effective trips all over the world.” She explains that these will not be Ents trips abroad, but rather “this will be me giving advice on how to make [a class trip] cost effective.” When pushed on details for these trips, Michalek says: “I am planning on organising a few trips around Ireland […] and that will be more on a competition basis. But in terms of going around the world, it won’t be Ents, it will be me giving advice [to student groups].”
Michalek was the Auditor of the Hispanic Society during the 2017/18 academic year. She led the organisation on an international trip to Barcelona which was said by some to be poorly organised and Michalek had “no idea what was going on.” In response to these claims, she responds saying: “Well, that was my first big trip I ever organised.” She explains that the responsibility for the trip was meant to be spread amongst the committee but admits “it wasn’t quite. A lot of the trip was organised by myself and the Secretary. I mean, I definitely learned from it. […] I think the number one piece of advice I will be giving [to students is] try not to stress, it’s not that easy.” Michalek goes on to admit: “I definitely think there are things I could have done better,” and listed multiple events organised by her on the trip and are said to have been enjoyed by the group. She also stressed the many days of free time as one of the benefits of the trip.
The Hispanic Society experienced a number of difficulties following her term as Auditor. Following several committee resignations, the group failed to run many events. When asked why she thought this was, Michalek responds: “It’s difficult to tell, I wasn’t actually involved.” She says she helped out on a number of occasions, but as she was in her final year of her undergraduate degree, she stepped back.
In relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, Michalek advises that students “stay safe and stay inside” during the current health crisis.
Current Ents Officer Thomas Monaghan has been organising social events for the SU for over two years now. We asked Michalek if she would do a better job than Monaghan: “I think Tom did an amazing job this year. He really engaged with students and put on a number of really good events. I wouldn’t compare my year with his, because it’s not necessarily going to be the same. […] I’ll definitely try to do as good a job as him, but you know, we’ll see.”
Conor Capplis – Editor