Education is one of the most important roles within the SU but this year sees only one candidate vying for the position. Editor, Elaine McCahill interviews Senior Sophister Katie Byrne on her policies, women within in the SU and her plans for next year assuming she defeats Ron.
Senior Sophister, Katie Byrne, may be the only candidate running for the position of Education officer but this does not detract from her realistic manifesto and ability to do the job. Her manifesto, which outlines her policies for the position, may be relatively simple but if enacted, these policies will truly make a great deal of difference to that average student’s life. Too often during these campaigns, huge promises are thrown around in order to secure votes, often never to be brought up again once the reality of the job hits home. Katie’s aims are clear and concise and for the most part are achievable policies. Her plans for Blackboard, timetables and appeals processes, if enacted, will relieve a lot of stress on students and ensure a better framework is in place for incoming students. While aspirational policies are also important and necessary in order to believe in a greater vision for the SU in the future, we need real policies that can be enacted without huge sums of money or reluctance from College administration. In speaking to Trinity News, Katie outlines her views on her manifesto, why more women don’t run for positions and how frustrating rising fees are.
When asked about her policies and which one she really wants to see enacted, Katie describes how her policies are based on issues herself and her friends were confronted with: “Most of my policies have been taken from my own and my friend’s experiences, it’s just very practical problems that a lot of students would come across in college, which are relatively simple to solve, it’s just nothing has been done about them.” In particular, it’s her desire to reform of class rep training that comes to the fore: “I would really love to improve the class rep training, just because a lot of reps underestimate how much they can do for their class or what an influence they can have on their class, they are the first port of call if someone does have an issue, they see the students every day so they can keep tabs on those who may be struggling a little bit, they can make sure they’re coping, I’d really love to push the point of view that they have a responsibility to their class but also that they can make a real difference.”
When questioned further about how rep training could be changed, Katie argues in favour of more structured and directed training, as well as a reduction in costs: ” The training could be far more directed, there’s a lot of skills that will apply to all courses, but the kind of problems that I would have as a zoolology student are miles away from the problems that nurses or med students are having, more directed training is necessary. In later years it’s about helping students manage stress, to make those last two years as easy possible. The training needs to be more directed so that reps can look after their classes specifically. Class rep training also needs to be more cost effective. I feel that by keeping class rep training closer to Dublin it will reduce costs and it will also attract a better choice of speakers, as they possibly won’t have to travel as far. it needs to be value for money, having them al together for that one weekend is great, it allows them all to interact and spread ideas and work together during the year so it is quite practical to get them all together like that but it needs to be run efficiently so that you’re not wasting any time throughout the day, and that they come out of it really prepared for looking after their class for that year and understand the responsibility that they’ve taken on.”
As most students know, the Blackboard resource is chronically under-used in Trinity, and as one of her main campiagn policies, I wonder how Katie is going to change this trend. Katie claims it’s all about how it is marketed to both faculty and students: ” I know a lot of people are not fans of using it but If it’s used properly it is a really good resource. We really just need to get lectures on board. There 15,000 students who’ve had to get used to using it and adjust to it and lecturers should be obliged to do the same, that’s what it’s there for. If we can get lecturers really on board with it, and using it as a resource, it’s such an efficient way for students to have all their lecture materials in one place but also that the discussion board facility on it would be a much more efficient way of lecturers communicating with students. Lecturers probably get fifty emails from students asking them the same question and they just don’t have time to get back to them all and if the discussion board was utilised the way it was intended, one student ask the question, everyone can see that it’s been asked and the lecturer only has to answer it once and it’s far more efficient, more practical and if it’s sold to them in a way that it’s going to reduce their workload then hopefully we’ll get them on board.” With regard to the SU as a whole, Katie really wants to see the the SU website utilised more and plans to change the education page to include relevant information depending on the time of the year. Much has been said about the lack of women running for positions within the SU and it is something that Katie hopes will change in the future: “Jack tried to address it this year, he tried to open a discussion at student council to see if anyone did have any ideas about how to encourage girls to go for it but not much came of it, so hopefully as a female Sabat next year, I might be able to inspire more girls to run. I think a lot of the issue is that we need to inspire women to run for these positions, if they can see other girls putting themselves forward or if they’re made aware of the amount of unbelievable women professors that are in our college, it might really inspire them to go for it.”
Katie also hopes to push forward national campaigns with regard to issues such as fees and LGBTQ rights as well as internal campaigns to advertise the Student Learning and Counselling centres.