Two petitions circulating in Dublin City University (DCU) – one calling for the option to leave Dublin City University Students Union (DCUSU) and another for a referendum on the union’s stance on abortion – have gained the necessary number of signatures for referenda to take place.
Referenda can be expected to be called in the coming weeks, if the petitions are approved. As there is only two and a half weeks left in this semester, the referenda are expected to take place after Christmas.
According to DCUSU’s constitution, a referendum can be called if 2.5% of the union body sign a petition, which is approximately 425 students. The constitution states that the petitions submitted to the union’s president or the chair of class representative council.
The spokesperson for the campaigns, Sarah Connolly, told Trinity News that the campaigners met with the returning officer after the necessary number was reached. According to Connolly, the returning officer was “satisfied with the number of signatures”. The group, however, are still waiting on a final list of signatures to be returned before they get the total number of signatures gained.
President of DCSU, Niall Behan, responded: “I would just advice any DCU student to ensure they read clearly what they are signing and look into the potential consequences of what is possible to occur. Freedom of speech is encouraged by DCUSU and absolutely anybody can run with a petition. We await to see what our returning officer calls and will then make our recommendations to the membership.”
Speaking to Trinity News, Connolly stated that the petitioners are “all delighted, as it only took three-and-a-half days to reach the target”. She added that: “We just want fair representation for all students, especially those in the incorporated colleges and we are excited to try get this sorted for our students.”
DCUSU are currently mandated to campaign for the repeal of the eighth amendment, although Connolly notes that the union’s vote on the matter predates the merging of DCU with Patrick’s College, Mater Dei and the Church of Ireland College of Education (CICE). She stated that the petition will give these students, “as well as new students of original DCU campus”, a voice on the issue, as they have had “no say”.
In recent days, DCU is the third college to launch a petition on giving students the option to individually opt out on their student union. Petitions were also launched in Trinity and University College Dublin (UCD) this week, while the National College of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) has a similar group set up, who are exploring ways to leave the union.
Student Union Opt Out Project, launched in Trinity, will need 500 signatures for a referendum to be called. Petitioning took place on campus this week and a member of the group, Eunice Collins, told Trinity News that petitioning will continue next week.