Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) may face an audit if it does not present a plan to College this week on how it will address the Union’s persistent deficit, leading to a referendum being called at Council this evening on the length of the Ents Officer’s term in an effort to reduce costs.
TCDSU Communications and Marketing Officer Paraic McLean successfully proposed an emergency motion at Council this evening to hold a referendum on shortening the officership of the Ents Officer so that it would commence alongside the terms of the other sabbatical officers, but end after the summer examination period.
TCDSU President Shane De Rís announced that he has been requested by College to present a plan to resolve the SU’s financial issues on Thursday. His report to Council outlined that unless the union “changes [its] front-end activities to reduce expenditure, and eliminate the deficit fully”, it would undergo an audit.
De Rís said that an audit would pose “extreme risks” to the Union’s “independence and ability to operate”.
De Rís initially suggested holding a referendum on whether the TCDSU Ents Officer and Communications and Marketing Officer roles should be merged into one position in an attempt to address the union’s deficit, a move which he identified as crucial in order to “ensure the safety and security of the union”.
His original referendum would have asked students: “Do you agree with the proposed change to section 3.5.6 [of the TCDSU constitution] and the deletion of 3.5.7 (The Entertainments Officer), the merging of the Communications and Marketing Officer and the Entertainments Officer?”
However, the suggestion of merging the two roles was opposed by students. McLean spoke against the motion, citing the revenue raised by the two officers individually. He suggested looking at shortening the term of the Ents Officer, suggesting that the officer may not require accommodation after exams. He also suggested that the Union could accept sponsorship from luxury student accommodation providers as another means to raise revenue.
Council decided instead to vote on the emergency motion proposed by McLean. The shortening of the Ents Officer term will now be put to students in a referendum in April, alongside a referendum on University Times (UT) funding and the Graduates Students’ Union (GSU) elections.
TCDSU recorded a €70,622 deficit in the financial year ending June 2018, over four times the size of the previous year’s deficit, marking the third consecutive year in which the union returned a deficit. UT, the union-funded newspaper, made a loss of €16,569, without including the cost of salary or rooms for the editor.
UT Editor and Communications Officer were combined as one role until 2015 when the role was split, increasing the number of sabbatical officers from five to six.
TCDSU sabbatical officers receive a salary and on-campus accommodation, which amounts to €25,000 per officer.