One of two candidates for the position of Ents officer this year, Matt Dundon is a third year Politics, Philosophy, Economics and Sociology (PPES) student and co-founder of the popular student club night, The Midnight Disco. He aims to apply his experience with The Midnight Disco to the Ents Officer role, from his personal connections in the Dublin social scene to the quality and affordability of his events.
Dundon considers this balance of quality, variety, and affordability the central point of his manifesto, as well as his key grievance with the Ents position in the past. Citing his experience in organising affordable and successful club nights, he condemns “overestimating demands and making unrealistically high ticket prices,” insisting that “more affordable events will create a full house and still make a profit”.
Making a sizeable profit has been an increasingly important aspect of the role of Ents Officer, and Dundon acknowledges the success of the prior Ents Officers in their profitability, which he says leaves the incoming Ents Officer in “quite a nice position”.
When asked about his priorities between balancing the SU budget and using the full extent of the funds available to him, Dundon argued that “when you’re hired as Ents Officer you’re not hired to make money – what they hire you to do is put on quality events. If you are putting on quality events, as I have with The Midnight Disco, I think you’re going to make money”.
Dundon continues: “I don’t think there has to be a divide between putting on quality events and making money, because the two are actually very dependent on each other.” He insists that putting on interesting and exciting events leaves no reason to suggest that if elected, he won’t also be leaving money behind for his successor.
As part of his efforts to improve the position of Ents Officer as a whole, Dundon aims to diversify the events on offer. He makes note of the unconventional locations on offer throughout the city, which may not have an alcohol licence, but can still serve as unique and exciting venues for BYOB (bring your own booze) events. Dundon strongly supports introducing BYOB events not just for their versatility, but for their accessibility to those who may want to moderate how much they drink.
When asked about the over-reliance on alcohol in College events, Dundon suggests that this comes from “too much emphasis on standard club nights,” and that he can provide entertainment for non-drinkers and drinkers alike in more unique events like less standard club nights and film screenings in the Pav, for which he’s already secured a “green light”. He insists that “no event has to be a drinking event,” and that “if we make events of a certain calibre, there wouldn’t be any pressure to consume anything to have a good time”.
On the topic of drug culture in Trinity, Dundon argues that “drug use within events is something that’s unavoidable”. Whilst he encourages prevention of drug use, he thinks it’s “not realistic,” and prioritises supporting the current SU mandate of disseminating information about safe drug use, adding that “it’s really important that people be safe if they are going to be experimenting with drugs”. Dundon promises to collaborate with both the Welfare officer and SU as a whole to make this information available at these events.
Cooperation with SU mandates appears to be a necessity for Dundon. When asked about the presence of any popular social issues or movements at his events, he insists that he “will give a voice to what has been mandated by the college- there’s certain stances that students vote on, and those are the stances I’ll uphold. I think my personal beliefs and my personal opinions on political and social matters aren’t really relevant to the job I’m doing”.
Connecting with the student body, and bringing more accessibility to the position, is important to Dundon. He suggests an Ents review service after events to increase student input, as well as an anonymous online suggestion box for those who may not be comfortable complaining in person. He notes his positive experiences in the Ents committee and its advantages, but asserts that “it’d be so much better if we could extend that involvement to the entire student population, to anyone who wants to say something”.
In keeping with his ambitions for increased social engagement with the student body, Dundon aims to improve engagement through marketing and branding, which he cites as part of his experience with The Midnight Disco. He claims that the branding and social media aspect of his experiences were very successful, and “something that could be tapped into for Ents”.
Dundon also notes his “good connections and very respectable reputation” among the Dublin nightlife and music scenes as positives for the position, and his aims to bring successful acts from around the world to perform at Trinity events.
On the topic of the Trinity Ball, Dundon does not favour a simple crowdsourcing of the line-up, noting that “people overestimate the involvement that the Trinity Ents Officer actually has in the line-up”. Instead, he promotes a positive relationship with production company MCD, whom he praises as professionals who “pick out quality acts that people will enjoy,” noting the completely sold out events of recent years.
Accessibility is an important part of the Ents Officer position for Dundon. He proposes “easy, practical and achievable solutions” like free ear protection at events, and promises to prioritise disability accessibility when selecting venues and events.
Inclusivity is also a key point of Dundon’s manifesto. He proposes a monthly LGBTQ+ night, as well as various other events and collaborations that cater to students “that feel maybe they’re underrepresented within the college events”. He also notes the importance of representation, aiming to bring in and promote female acts among his event line-ups.
This inclusivity also applies to smaller societies, which Dundon feels the Ents Officer should highlight and collaborate with more frequently. Citing examples like the Afro-Caribbean society’s annual Afro-jam, the Jazz Society’s Christmas party and live DU Comedy Club shows, Dundon notes the possible benefits of increased Ents involvement in society events. He says collaboration is essential, and giving financial backing to these societies, “which have so much potential that isn’t being tapped into,” could only improve college events as a whole.
Dundon insists that his experience and his passion are what make him the best candidate for the position of Ents Officer, and focuses on strong and achievable goals. He aims to increase diversity and quality of college events without sacrificing affordability, and wishes “to ensure that everyone in the college is getting the most out of their Ents Officer”.