Students voted today against changing the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) constitution to allow students to opt-out of the union in the first result of the two referenda held this week.
Out of a total poll of 2040 students, 1019 (49.96%) voted against allowing students to opt-out, while 971 (47.59%) voted in favour of the constitutional amendment. 50 (2.4%) votes were spoilt.
Article 1.1 of the TCDSU constitution, which states that that membership of the union is composed of all capitated students and sabbatical officers of the union, will not be altered. Had the referendum passed article 1.1 of the constitution be amended to state: “all capitated students who have not opted out of the Union by notifying Trinity College Dublin or the Union of his/her wish not to be a member of the Union”.
The turnout for the referenda was 2,361, a larger turnout than the 2,157 students who voted in the preferendum on Irish unity, and the 1,146 people who voted in Student Centre. The constitutional amendment required 50% of the vote to pass.
After the announcement of the result, TCDSU President Kevin Keane told Trinity News: “I welcome the result. I think the old slogan ‘students, united, will never been defeated,’ although overused, is accurate today. We are stronger together, we are better together.” He stated that: “The existence of this referendum shows that there are some issues that this Union needs to address.”
The Vote Yes to opt-out group collected signatures since November and reached the 500 signatures required under Article 7.5.1 of the TCDSU constitution to hold a referendum, in February.
A petition to make Dublin City University Students’ Union (DCUSU) membership opt-in was declared invalid by President of DCUSU Niall Behan on March 9.
The University Observer reported in November of last year that a group of students in University College Dublin (UCD) that the Freedom of Choice Coalition UCD (FOCCUCD) launched a petition to make membership of the student union optional.
Much of the campaign focused on the idea of freedom of association and whether membership of unions, and student government organisations, should be optional.
The Vote Yes to campaigned group were sanctioned earlier this week because Trinity Young Fine Gael handed out fliers supporting an opt-out stance.
Students voted today and yesterday in the two referenda. Results of the referendum on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions are expected to be announced shortly.
Update 22/03/18: Article was updated to reflect correct percentage