Sinéad Williams examines Enda Conway’s plans for the Welfare Office.
Twenty year old Geography, Planning and Environment Policy student Enda Conway is running for the position of Welfare Officer.
Though Conway has never been involved with the Welfare Crew, he still feels that he has something to bring to the job through his experience with UCDSU’s Welfare system. “I know that I haven’t been part of the welfare crew, sales but I’m going to bring something new to the job. I’ve been through the system. I would not be in UCD at this very moment if it wasn’t for Welfare.”
Conway cites life experience as something he feels would help him as Welfare Officer. “I have life experience…I was one of the four first community development officers for Tesco Ireland in the Republic…In my job I was given a budget and I had to work with that budget and help the area…We were given a lot more than we were told at the start, but it worked great.”
Corporate sponsorship is a top priority for Conway, who thinks it would be a brilliant way to fund Welfare projects. “It was done before by a Welfare Officer and anything that gives money to welfare is in the Welfare Officer’s brief, anything that helps more people in UCD.”
He says that he has already investigated the possibility and feels it could be done. “I have approached a couple of major companies. Of course, because I’m not Welfare Officer, they couldn’t give me anything in writing, but they’re very, very interested.”
“We’re selling the point that this is going to reach 200,000 people, if not more. That’s what we have to be selling. In this current situation we’re in, we need money.”
Conway wants to encourage students to join the Welfare Crew “because it’s good, it’s cool, it’s the thing to do.” It’s something he himself could not do this year. “Due to personal reasons, this year I have no spare time…I didn’t have time to do it. It’s a real pity and it’s something I regret, but it was out of my hands.”
Facebook is something Conway would seek to exploit to promote Welfare campaigns: “I want to make the Union more efficient…I want a Facebook status update from the Union everyday saying ‘this is what happened, this is what’s going on.’” Current campaigns, he says, could be made bigger “very cheaply”. “The days of posters are nearly gone…it’s all about Facebook…I think a lot more could be done on Facebook.”
He proposes introducing a loyalty card scheme for students to use in the Restaurant and other food outlets on campus, saying that the manager of the Restaurant was “very interested” when approached about it. He also puts forward a food voucher scheme; something he notes has already been successfully done in Letterkenny, which could provide students with discounted vouchers and coupons for outlets off campus.
On the subject of frees fees, Conway feels that the current stance is best. “I think we have to stick with the campaign which is going to help students.
At the moment…it has to be [free fees] because it’s got the backing of USI.” USI membership is something he supports, despite the money which could be saved by disaffiliation. “It’s great to keep the money here, but there’s no point having it if people can’t afford to go to college.”
Despite his personal views, he says he would respect whatever mandate he was given by the student body: “I’d have to back, and with full power, what the students believe in.”
The proposed new SU Constitution is something he thinks will benefit the Union. “I think I’ll vote yes. When you compare the two constitutions, you’re never going to get a perfect constitution…so what we’re looking at is: is this better for the situation we’re in now? I believe this constitution is better for us now to sustain the Union to help people.” The expansion of the role of Welfare Officer to include Equality is not something that fazes him, as he believes that the role already involves dealing with equality.
Conway proposes introducing a group counseling service to decrease waiting times. “If [people] can share their feelings with someone who has been in the same situation it works very well.” He would also like to see a Peer Support Scheme put in place for students on placement and greater accessibility to nightclubs for students in wheelchairs.
“I don’t know what every student wants, that’s a ludicrous statement to make, but I’ve been through it. I’ve been through a lot of things and it stands to me.”
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