Who are these Sabbat lads? What does the Student Union do? Is that the thing your man, prostate the class rep from a completely different class, is on about? Oh wait, aren’t they the boys who are a million in debt?!
If these questions sound familiar you’re not the only one. Thousands of regular UCD students are in the same boat.
However, the annoying thing is that we all should know about our Students’ Union. As an institution, it’s extremely important; it offers supports and campaigns tirelessly for us. The SU’s the guy who works in the background to make sure we all can get through University as well as possible.
But the SU has problems. There is a distinct lack of clarity and accountability with its finances; students aren’t engaged-with because, in many cases, there are no class reps for classes; SU nights-out increasingly lose money and students’ attention; its executive committee is inefficient; post-grads are ignored; and most of all normal students don’t know what it does.
The new constitution tackles all of these problems head on.
Firstly, a vote for the new constitution means that a comprehensive budget will have to be ratified by your class reps at the very start of every year. Furthermore, if there is a 5% change in spending from the budget throughout the year this also has to be reported to your class reps and put online.
All SU accounts will have to be published as well. The fact that no one knew how much we were spending previously made it almost impossible for the Union to plan anything cost effectively, hence our colossal debt. Knowing what we are spending means we can plan a better Union.
Ah meh, no one cares about the SU aside from hacks! Yes and no, the real problem is that we’re not engaged-with or informed about the Union. So why get rid of the Communications officer?! The new constitution does remove the C&C position, however it creates 7 new convenor positions in each college who will ensure that students are engaged-with and informed. And sure they’ll be paid, but instead of a C&C officer getting €21,000 a year, we have 7 college convenors, who know each of their colleges inside out, working 70 hours a week, and costing the Union €5,000 less, combined!
The new constitution also reforms the structure of the Union. It will mean that no matter what class you’re in or how many people there are in it, you will have a class rep. It also makes the Union’s executive committee more efficient by grouping coordinators of various campaigns together and grouping the convenors of the various colleges together rather than the current situation where the executive is too crowded to get anything done.
The new PostGraduate officer will help inform students about career options, funding possibilities, Masters requirements, attend to the needs of Smurfit school residents and more. What you’ll do after you graduate is one of the most serious decisions students have to make, and the SU is there for you, if you vote for this constitution, you’re allowing the SU to help you in that decision.
What about Ents? 50 people in the bar for Aslan. A five figure loss for the fashion show last year. Trinity’s bar has cheaper pint’s than ours. It’s not great reading, is it? While Ents Officers can do a great job, it’s not guaranteed. How can we expect a new person every year to have the industry experiences and contacts that can consistently deliver great acts and at the right price? Every single major University in the UK has changed to professional Entertainment Managers for this reason, it’s time we did too.
The constitution ensures as well that students stay connected to Ents. The new Ents committee means that nine student coordinators are at the heart of our nights out; and with the industry experience and financial savvy of a professional behind them, UCD Ents will be bigger and better than ever under the new constitution.
This is a brave document. It proposes ideas which ensure that what’s best for students will come first. It makes changes which are practical, not populist; changes which are best for students in the long term, not best for those who are comfortable with how things stand.
A ‘yes’ vote is a vote for one of the most progressive, accountable and professional Unions on this island. In short, it turns the Union’s biggest weaknesses into its greatest strengths.
However apathetic we may be about the current state of the SU it does deserve a chance and the best chance it has is with this new constitution.