There are two candidates for president in this year’s Graduate Student Union (GSU) election; the current president Shane Collins and Business Mangement student Sibeal Conway. Voting opened today, Wednesday 26 April and will continue until 4pm this Friday.
Shane Collins is the current president of the Graduate Students Union and is running for a second year while he continues a masters in Politics and Public Policy. As an undergraduate he studied in the Marino Institute of Education (MIE), an associated college of Trinity. While there, Collins was President of MIE SU for the year 2013/14, operating as a voluntary officer while remaining in full time education.
He has previously worked in the Ombudsman for Children’s Office and the Irish National Teachers Organisation, and in 2013 Collins formed The Student Teachers Union of Ireland. He has worked on committees such as the Academic Council, the Welfare Committee and the Contingency Committee, and was a member of MIE-TCD Governing Body. He has led national campaigns associated with student teachers, mediating with the Department of Education and Skills and the Minister.
Collins wants to build on the work he undertook this year. For example, this year he engaged with the government and College on the increase of the Graduate stay back programme to two years, and wishes to ensure this occurs in his second term. With the support of the GSU, he also called on the introduction of an online appointment system for the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service to improve the visa process and wishes to introduce a multi-year registration for international students to reduce stress on the system.
In his manifesto he outlines a number of new initiatives he plans to undertake, which include sourcing additional funding from a corporate partner and working with the USI and Postgraduate Representatives Forum to develop a survey on mental health issues amongst postgraduates in Ireland.
Sibeal Conway is a Masters student studying Business Management at Trinity College Dublin. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in Social policy and Sociology also from TCD. She is currently class representative for her class. She was awarded the Deans leadership award for her commitment to volunteering this year by the Deans of students. Conway has also been elected onto the Dean’s Roll of Honour 3 years in a row for showing excellence in aspects of Trinity life.
She is a volunteer at the LauraLynn Children’s Hospice and at the 100 minds charity organisation. She speaks Spanish and Irish and has a CELT Qualification for teaching English as a second Language.
In her manifesto, Conway highlights her experience as an undergraduate and as a class rep at Trinity. She emphasises what she sees as the “imbalance” between undergraduate and postgraduate life at Trinity. She offers a 3 point plan to improve the experience of postgraduates. The most radical of these is an effort to make societies facilitate postgraduate reps and run postgraduate events. Questioned at the debate over whether she would be capable of fulfilling this, since the CSC have full control over societies, Conway said that she hoped to work with the CSC to achieve her goal.
Her second point involves measures to help international students, including optional English language and Irish culture courses for international students, and a ‘buddy’ system in which international students are paired up with Irish students. Her last point involves supporting students with mental health and extra-curricular services, and creating a “Grad-link” network to help share knowledge among postgraduate students.
Reporting by Aisling Grace and Sarah Meehan