Muireann Kane is a final year History of Art and Italian student and is the only candidate running for the position of Communications and Marketing Officer. Kane believes that the experience she has gained as this year’s Art Installation Officer for Trinity Ball, her knowledge of art, as well as her sales experience sufficiently equip her to tackle the role. So far, Kane has experienced a rocky week of campaigning having narrowly overcome RON with a majority of 56% in the Trinity News poll. This comes after a Facebook page advocating for a RON vote in the race surfaced last week, which Kane described as a “thinly veiled attack”. Further, Kane received backlash for both her failure to set up a Facebook page for the campaign, as well as numerous issues with her manifesto.
Kane emphasised that a key aspect of her campaign and, should she be elected, term as Officer will be to focus on listening to what students want and make decisions from there: “Just listening to students, I mean people will tell you things if you ask, you’re asking me questions and I’m telling the answers now, this is just how it works. So give them accessible platforms whereby they can air their opinions, then I can work on that as Comms and Marketing Officer. So my aim really, as the officer, what I want to do, the key aspect of my campaign, is to find out what students want and act on that. As I said, I’d like to use money for platforms like social media to open up a dialogue between myself and the students and they tell me and I can do it, if they don’t tell me, I can’t do it.”
Certainly, this has been evident in her campaign. Following a suggestion at Council Hustings that her original manifesto may be inaccessible to visually impaired students, Kane proceeded to issue new campaign material, stating that she had received advice from visually impaired students as well as a relative with dyslexia. Further, Kane received backlash for her decision to focus solely on campaigning on her personal Instagram account, instead of making a campaign Facebook page also. However, a Facebook page was subsequently set up with Kane commenting that “[i]f some people did feel more comfortable with a Facebook page in terms of reaching me, then absolutely I will set that up for them for their sake”.
A topic which dominated the discussion was that of the sizeable deficit currently facing the Union. Kane expressed her belief that splitting the role of University Times Editor to create the position of Communications and Marketing Officer greatly enhanced the Union’s efficacy. While admitting that the split “would have been costly”, she highlighted the work done by the incumbent sabbat, Paraic McLean, commenting that he has “gotten so much money through fundraising, sponsorship, that kind of thing”, things she views as key to reducing the deficit. “[Y]ou have to give or take a little bit with anything”, she added.
Asked what services, in her view, the SU should consider cutting in order to reduce the deficit, Kane stated that she did not yet consider herself in the position to speculate on any such cuts.
Again highlighting the progress made by the previous Communications and Marketing Officer, Kane stated that it is her intention to continue to foster the relationships already “established with companies, as well as giving students something to look forward to”, noting the importance of assisting students in further developing their careers when it comes to job prospects after college. Questioned on whether her year would be focused merely on continuing the work of McLean or making more of a change, Kane asserted that “there’s [not only] going to be a lot of maintenance but also a lot of improvement as well”.
Kane stated that her “first and foremost concern is maintaining [sponsorship], making sure it is there, because, you know, that’s only going to aid the reduction of the deficit which keeps students happy, but also maintaining the ethical sponsorship ethos”. The candidate then expanded on this idea of sourcing only “ethical sponsorship”, defining it as anything that is “not dodgy” or sponsorship that would “circumvent anything that is eco-friendly, that kind of a thing, so we’re gonna try to pull that, which I think is only fair to do.”
On this point, she condemned the advertisement of luxury student accommodation providers Host in the University Times as sponsorship she would consider to be “unethical”. The candidate added that: “[P]eople have to appreciate that the Communications and Marketing Officer isn’t going to be able to address the rental crisis issue in terms of making it go away. So in terms of making things ethical for students in that regard, ethical in the sense of being affordable, that’s gonna be a big thing as well.”
On arguably one of the most prominent points of contention in this year’s elections, Kane believes that attempts in previous years to strengthen the Union’s relationship with students have not achieved the intended results. She believes it important to work on the matter, adding that “if there was an overall concentration of efforts” instead of focusing on specific groups of students, that “that would assist better”.
Keane believes that dealing with the deficit and making cuts without jeopardising any of the programmes that are “in any way beneficial” to the students, as well as increasing engagement with the SU from students, will be two of the bigger challenges she will be faced with in the role of Communications and Marketing Officer: “There are so many people involved, so many people involved with things in so many different ways so that will be quite tricky. As well just to narrow things down to look at the bigger picture, you have to examine everything that’s really really tiny, so that’s what I have to do, but I did Art History there for a few years so I’m kinda good at doing that so not too worried.”