SU Elections: Hugh McInerney talks accessibility and collaboration with societies

The sole Ents candidate proposes a new service called “Trinity This Week”, an overview of “Ents events, society gatherings and other noteworthy events” in a video format

Hugh McInerney, a history student in his final year, is running an uncontested race for the position of Ents Officer, though he promises that this will not compromise his campaign. In fact, he states, “I really don’t want anyone to think just because I’m unopposed means I think I’m already elected.” As Ents Officer, he plans to initiate four major changes in the entertainment portion of Trinity next year: increasing the inclusivity and accessibility of all events, ensuring the collaboration between societies and Ents, introducing a “Trinity This Week” video release, and proposing a two-week period of Sober October. 

Of the four bids, McInerney takes most pride in the last: although he acknowledges that at first, students (particularly first years, recently granted the freedom of legality) might be reluctant to willingly give up alcohol, he believes that in the end, they will realise the importance of taking time off of drinking. Sober October, McInerney explained, “will actually be more of a success than you might imagine for college”, citing an “increased demand for sober nights out” as well as “further attention paid to the issue of alcoholism in college.” After two years straight of taking a month off of drinking himself, he has come to appreciate the health benefits—and the loss of an unfortunate beer belly, he joked—that even two weeks of the proposed Sober October would afford all students. He plans to partner with various alcohol-free providers at social events, during which students may participate in games and activities that do not require drunkenness, in order to prove that Dublin is not “just one giant pub.” 

Furthermore, if the two weeks are met with a generally positive response, McInerney would “love to continue to have a focus on sober events throughout the year”, potentially expanding to include some of the other monthly traditions that have become popular in recent years, such as Dry January. After experiencing two years of Sober October for himself and even having reported on his experiences in an episode of Trinity Views, the Trinity News podcast which he produces, McInerney is deeply invested in the prospect of all students giving a month of sobriety a chance, and he wants to solidify the idea that Ents events do not have to be known solely for heavy drinking on nights out. 

McInerney cares about ensuring that all students are given equal access to Ents events, regardless of their ability. To this end, he will strive to select venues that allow for accessibility, such as Wigwam, which boasts wheelchair ramps. He feels that “it’s a shame that there aren’t more accessible venues in the city”, but he will try his best to “ensure as many of [his] events are accessible as possible.” After learning that a venue that he had selected for a possible upcoming campaign event did not have wheelchair accessibility ramps, McInerney expressed extreme disappointment and hoped that he could secure a different location to allow for more prospective attendees. McInerney intends to use this position to increase inclusivity across all of Trinity’s student body and has rigorously stressed that he wants to make Ents events more accessible for any student who wishes to attend.

Not only does McInerney wish for Ents to be more inclusive to students of all capabilities, but he also endeavours to better represent groups across campus and to collaborate more closely with societies, both large and small, to host even more elaborate events throughout the year. Again, he stressed that he wants to make a name for Ents such that it is not only known for drunken nights out but also for its willingness to engage in day events and coordinate activities with different themes based on societies that might not get as much representation on a day-to-day basis. As inspiration for this plan, McInerney cited an experience he had while recording an episode of his Trinity News podcast, when he was “given a live tarot reading by Pagan Soc”, which allowed him to consider “a collaboration with them to celebrate one of the larger pagan festivals throughout the year”. In addition, he referenced this year’s Ents undertaking to celebrate the Seven Deadly Sins with a series of nights out in collaboration with a selection of campus societies, such as Trinity Musical Theatre, DU Players, the Environmental Society and Extinction Rebellion, the University Philosophical Society, and even the creators of the popular Facebook page Trinder. However, in relation to the Seven Deadly Sins endeavour, McInerney expressed dismay over the fact that there would have been a possibility to collaborate with so many smaller groups within the college that are less well-known. McInerney hopes to bring forth many of these lesser-known groups in collaboration with Ents to highlight a more diverse showing of interests and talents of the student body. 

            Finally, McInerney proposes to introduce a new service for students called “Trinity This Week”, which he describes as an overview of “Ents events, society gatherings and other noteworthy events on campus” in a video format. After having produced and edited several short films for the Facebook satirical web series Trinity Truths as well as a full feature film, McInerney feels that he has sufficient experience in creating accessible and entertaining content that will inform students in a different format than, for instance, a weekly email, and he hopes that the videos will help students keep better track of events during a given week. Additionally, the idea to present a video follows previous claims of a desire to be accommodating and inclusive to all, and McInerney hopes that the audio and visual components will allow for a wider range of accessibility for students than would an email: he strives to “ensure that the audio is as crisp and as high-quality as possible, so it can be listened to and utilised by those who are visually impaired.”  

            When asked why he thinks the Trinity Students Union is important, McInerney relayed that the primary reason for the SU is to be “a voice for the students.” It is sometimes easy to forget that Trinity is “first a university, and then a tourist trap”, he claims, expressing frustration about how sometimes it seems that the common belief is the other way around. He chose to run for Ents specifically because, although he highlighted his strength in organisation exemplified in his managing of Trinity Truths, in the end, he explained, he is “always up for a bit of good craic”. In the past, he has held the position of Ents officer for the Film Society. If he were to choose another branch of the SU, however, he would consider running for Communications and Marketing because he believes that it requires similar organisation and charisma that he hopes to bring to Ents in the coming year. When asked about the past proposals to merge the Comms and Ents roles due to financial challenges, McInerney explained that he believes that the issues the SU was trying to address with the merge have mostly been solved. If the merging proposal were ever to be brought back into question, however, McInerney does not believe he would be a proponent. “Both jobs require so much time on their own,” he claims, seeing the merging of Ents and Comms as placing the workload of two people onto a single individual. 

In terms of Plastic-Free Trinity Ball, a proposal intended to address the environmental impact of Trinity Ball, McInerney expressed his full support. He believes that there are easy changes that the school can make in order to become more environmentally friendly, and Plastic-Free Trinity Ball is one of them. McInerney intends to speak to the Pavilion Bar about their transition from disposable plastic cups to glass ones after they “trialed a scheme where you paid a euro extra for your plastic cup when they gave it to you, and then when you gave it back you got your euro back”. Using this possible method as “something to look at in a bid to reduce plastic waste”, he plans to research the ways in which Ents could carry out a plastic-free Trinity Ball and more environmentally-conscious events moving forward.  

As cheerful as he may be, Hugh McInerney acknowledges that the role of Ents Officer is more than a bit of good craic and it is a “full-time job”, a role which he vows to honour as officer next year. With his past experience on Ents committees, and from his other endeavours such as Trinity Truths, he hopes to bring an organised and experienced face to the SU with a primary focus on bringing accessibility of events to a diverse range of students and interests. Of course, there is always time for craic as well.

Audrey Brown

Audrey Brown is a Deputy News Editor of Trinity News.