Harry Williams, a presidential candidate in Trinity College Dublin Student Union (TCDSU) elections, has retracted one of his main manifesto claims that he will support clubs and societies after the Central Societies Committee (CSC) took offence.
Williams told Trinity News this afternoon: “Part of my manifesto is focused on supporting sports clubs and societies and the great people who put a lot of effort into running them.”
He continued: “The CSC have taken offence at this point in my manifesto and have asked me to remove this policy. At their request all manifesto references to clubs and societies have been discontinued.”
“I look forward to continuing a very positive campaign that is engaging a lot of disaffected students,” he added.
Chair of the Electoral Commission (EC) Sadhbh Brennan told Trinity News: “We have been in contact with the CSC on the candidate’s behalf and are working with them to ensure the swift resolution of this issue. Their requests are being acted upon by the candidate so we hope no further action will be taken with regard to this matter.”
“The EC’s primary concern is for the welfare of candidates, and we would of course like to avoid any bad feeling arising between TCDSU and the CSC as a result of this issue.”
Williams later told Trinity News that “discontinued” would mean that this claim will “no longer be in my manifesto which is online”. With regards to his printed leaflets, Williams stated that this point will be “taken off as soon as time allows”.
The CSC is the sole representative body for societies. In an email statement to Trinity News, CSC Secretary Ben McConkey said: “The candidate in question was seeking a mandate which, if elected, he would not have the authority to act on. This misinforms students on the boundaries between the capitated bodies which is unhelpful for all.”
“The CSC has a representative presence on the Student Life Committee and uses this as a means of expressing concerns about TEP and its impact,” he continued. “We regularly work with our colleagues in the Students’ Union on areas of shared interest and key projects such as the Student Centre, and we look forward to doing so in the future.”
In his manifesto, Williams said: “The SU needs to help clubs and societies, a vital part of college life, far more. If elected I would ensure captains and society heads can contact me should they have any difficulties over the coming year, whether it be booking rooms, pitches and securing more funding.”
He continued in his manifesto: “TEP has negatively affected society engagement and the SU should do all it can to help.The Captains and society heads do a lot of unrecognised work to hugely improve the college experience.”
Additional reporting by Aisling Grace.
This article was updated at 4:40pm, February 21, to add a comment from the chair of the Electoral Commission, and again at 7:05pm to add a statement from the secretary of the CSC.