During the last few weeks, order welcomed reform within the Students’ Union has come in the form of a new UCDSU constitution. These changes were to increase transparency finance wise and to become more open and inclusive union for students. The disgraceful losses partly gained from inept previous SU presidents in UCD in the last few years (who somehow accumulated up to one million in debt with many clueless how) has had many desperate for change. I feel that this constitution is a breath of much needed fresh air in trying times for education. The losses gained have driven our own students union to becoming a Private Limited Company with the new UCDSU constitution encouraging the help of many more professionals from outside of the University. This in turn will lose a lot of that student activity and inclusiveness that the Union are pushing for, but should help to ease financial pressures which is something that UCDSU so desperately need.
Of course this new constitution will help us financially, but will it help us as a community and and will it improve our education? The current UCDSU marched thousands down the streets of Dublin over increased registration fees because it would have detrimental effects on education, but only a few weeks later they close down a vital educational resource on campus and the loss of long standing SU servants due to financial reasons. When students show their right to protest, using the same slogans that this SU endorsed weeks beforehand was met with huge negativity, then surely this is hypocrisy on a much smaller scale on part of the Union? Class rep training is costing thousands of euros on what has, in previous years, been a piss-up for people waiting in line to the throne. Surely the training could be held within our own university for a fraction of the cost. They hardly need an expensive obstacle course or intensive electro-shock therapy. It’s not just in UCD, the new USI constitution proposes giving bonuses for some re-elected positions: certain officials seem to be allowed to rerun just when their term draws to a close. If these are cases of money that could be easily saved then imagine what we can’t see. Let’s look at our accounts…. whoops, there aren’t any. Although I applaud Pat in his attempts to clean up the mess, it is a tragic state of affairs.
The idea to drop our universities only radio station Belfield FM shows our unions lack of interest in student media and in promoting horizons outside of course work, where Ireland’s prized journalists and presenters have been nurtured. Although I feel that the station has been very poor in the past, I feel as if it is starting to progress into what we know it can be. Support is what they need, not lack thereof. It remains to be seen what will happen to the station, the probability of it becoming a society may have its advantages, but it is surely one step back for the station. This week after the College Tribune reported on Facebook that UCD student Chris Lee was to run for Law Society auditor, our very own Campaigns and Communication officer, who is paid by the students of this university to represent students, makes negative and sarcastic remarks only highlights his disinterest in media activities by students.
The constitution may help us financially in our time of need but I feel it may have a detrimental effect on a Students’ Union that has already been accused of being a ‘clique’. We can only hope that these changes can bring us closer together, rather than drive us further apart.