It begins again: the promises, the campaigning, the stunts, the hustings, the polling, the count. Each year, a new selection of our fellow students step forward to represent each and every one of us in all negotiations with the college authorities. This year, as every year, the challenge is to select the best of what has been offered.
We have twelve candidates for election: four for President, three for Entertainments, two for Welfare, two for Education, and one uncontested election for Communications.
The presidential race, we can expect, will be fiercely fought as always. It is the office with the most prestige and the best opportunity for personal advancement of a given agenda. It is also an office of weighty responsibility– a union can succeed or fail at its goals depending upon the ability and leadership of a President. The vote cast for this office should be carefully considered: no matter any individual’s opinion of the effectiveness of student unions in general, the fact is that should any great threat to student activity arise, the union is recognised by college as the representative of the student body, and the President is its primary spokesperson.
Entertainments is less of a weighty concern, yet many students would place it as a much higher priority. Little can be said about this race: all three candidates hold experience, and it is up to the individual student to decide the relative merits of each.
The Education race is quite straightforward: a two-candidate head-to-head between Fox and Preston. Many may remember Preston from his failed attempt at President last year; the campaign he has proposed for the Education office is equally colourful.
Welfare is, perhaps, the most interesting race. The incumbent Welfare Officer, Cormac Cashman, has run for a second term of office– a rare event in Students’ Unions, and an even rarer one when running for the same position, rather than moving from one of the other positions to, say, President. His competition, Stephanie Fleming, is perfectly capable too, and so students are left with a simple decision when they cast the vote: are they convinced that Cashman has done an excellent job in his role, or is it time to elect some fresh blood? This race should be interesting to watch, as Cashman knows his strength lies in the words continuity, experience, and knowledge, and Fleming espouses change, improvement, and stresses her own experience in dealing with people as a student of physiotherapy.
The race for Communications, is, of course, not a race: Tom Lowe stands unopposed. While the option always exists to vote to re-open nominations (or RON), such a vote is really only suited to the occasion when the only available candidate would be grossly unsuitable to the situation and would likely do harm in office.
Each category has good potential. Over the years, many of those involved in college life complain about “student apathy,” particularly in relation to the Union elections. Turnout is consistently low– years ago, the requirement for a certain proportion of the total population to make a valid poll was abandoned as it was no longer feasible. As students of the university, we should not feel as though this election is irrelevant. All continuing students will be affected by its results, whether that means a system one can rely on in an emergency, an excellent or exceptionally poor selection of entertainment next year, or a relatively harmless union which neither succeeds nor fails to any great extent.
What follows is a brief overview of every candidate. Familiarise yourself with them, and ask further questions at the hustings or of members of the various campaign teams. Read manifestos, and take part. Most of all, vote. The college is an insular community, and students are, for the most part, somewhat protected from the outside world: what happens in academic circles is, for many, more important than what happens in national government.
Tuesday February 16: 12.00–18.00
Wednesday February 17: 09.00–19.00
Thursday February 18: 09.00–16.00
Tuesday February 16: 11.00–14.00
Wednesday February 17: 15.00–18.00
Wednesday February 17: 12.00–15.00
Wednesday February 17: 16.00–18.00
Monday February 15: 19.00– close
Friday February 19, Montclare Hotel
Hustings take place during the campaign period, during which members of the student population may pose questions to the candidates. These will take place on:
February 9: Froebel
February 12 13.30: Goldsmith Hall
February 15 14.00: Dining Hall Steps
February 15 1900: JCR, Halls
Campaigning officially began at 11pm on Sunday, February 7. It officially ends on February 18 at 4pm.
During this time, prospective sabbatical officers and their campaigning teams ordinarily promote themselves, through the media of posters, printed manifestos, and social media.
Flyers and printed material can only be handed directly to students, and not left in college locations. Any material found in this way may be confiscated.
There are strict financial limits in place for campaign teams, in order to prevent one or more wealthy candidates achieving a greater level of publicity or popularity by investing personal funds.
Candidates pays deposit of €50 at the beginning of the campaign to the Electoral Commission of the Students’ Union. This is only returned if the candidate secures a certain proportion of the vote. If it is not returned, the amount is donated to charity.
Polling takes place from February 17–19 within the main college areas, in the Hamilton and Arts Buildings. Voting is restricted to certain times on each day.
There is also a polling day at each affiliate college, such as Froebel and Marino.
Dates this year have been slightly modified due to a constitutional rewrite in the Union last year in addition to the advent of semesterisation.
The Electoral Commission has also tightened up its rules this year, adding clauses which define what constitutes the campaigning area, and ruling that current sabbatical officers must remain neutral throughout the campaign, unless they themselves are running.