The Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) sabbatical election campaign period officially began today with the Dining Hall hustings.
The 10 candidates vied for the six sabbatical positions: President, Education Officer, Welfare Officer, Communications and Marketing Officer, Ents Officer and University Times Editor. Each candidate gave a speech lasting around three minutes to a crowd composed largely of campaign teams. The Dining Hall hustings gives the student body a first glimpse at the personalities and priorities of the candidates, and the candidates an opportunity to give an overview of their campaign.
“I am passionate about local issues” was Ryan Carey’s introduction to his campaign, promising union campaigns that focus on the issues that affect students. The current Gender Equality Officer’s goal is to “make sure every single student knows what the union is”, what it does and the role of the President. Carey spoke about engaging off campus students through communication with off campus student reps, highlighting the need to make them aware of services such as the Student Learning Development and counselling services. If elected, Carey would introduce an online weekly forum which students can use to make the SU President aware of local issues, and a standardised procedure for complaints which allows students to anonymously make contact with sabbatical officers and part-time officers about sensitive issues. In keeping with a theme of increased access to the SU he pledged to increase the President’s office hours. Carey mentioned fees, accessibility, the Irish language, trans healthcare and PrEP as important student issues. His campaigns, he says, will be “rooted in local issues and things that affect students in college”.
Eoin Hand came to Trinity “full of hopes and dreams and a lot of notions”. Like Carey, the Trinitones member touched on a wide range of local issues, like PrEP, tampons and pads. He said that “the college clearly has enough money” to provide these items and services to students. He outlined promoting student welfare as a priority, from adequate provision of microwaves to the availability of rapid HIV testing and environmental measures such as lobbying for more compost bins on campus. After the microphone cut him off at the end of his speech, the candidate urged the crowd to vote for him, receiving a hearty laugh from those in attendance.
Harry Williams said “enough of the waste, enough of the closed off SU”, launching his campaign to depoliticise TCDSU. He argued that the students’ union is currently “failing in its primary elective – to take care of students”. He argued for a more transparent union, saying that “very little people know” what the President does, and that “you pay for the SU so it’s only right that you know where it goes”. The candidate, hailing from Wales, wishes TCDSU to leave the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). “Every year we waste students’ money on training weekends,” he said. “Let’s spend this on things in Trinity.” Noting that most Trinity students don’t vote in the union’s elections, he urged those in attendance to give him their first preference vote.
Megan O’Connor, a fourth year nursing student and the sole candidate for Education Officer, opened her speech by outlining that her experience as an off-campus student has given her a “fresh perspective” to the student experience. O’Connor outlined that from her engagement in the students’ union, she has “first-hand experience in what can be improved” for students, referencing her desire to lobby against fee increases and improve the learning experience through communicating with lecturers. Discussing her manifesto, O’Connor outlined her ambitious plan to introduce a buddy system, similar to the system of S2S mentors for first year students, for students for all years which would see students paired with a student in the year above them from their particular course. She criticised “over assessment” and pointed to an unfairness in having coursework deadlines and exams in close proximity.
Leah Keogh, a final year social studies student from Dublin, is this year’s sole Welfare candidate. She emphasised her main manifesto points, including a focus on student finance through the introduction of more accessible payment plans and the introduction of drug policy and support as well as the importance of accountability. Speaking on the financial challenges faced by students, Keogh asked: “How can we be expected to actively engage in student life if we can’t even afford to be here?” She highlighted her plans to establish a student welfare partnership with Academic Registry, as well as her plan to produce an annual anonymised report of casework to maintain accountability and highlight the key challenges to student welfare. Keogh cited College’s failure to introduce a drug policy as one of her key areas of concern. She emphasised the importance of inclusion and her hope “to be a Welfare and Equality Officer for all”.
Communications and Marketing Officer
Next up was the candidates for Communications and Marketing Officer, Hiram Harrington and Philly Holmes. Both candidates gave a prominent position in their speeches to the issue of the union’s engagement with students and the need to better communicate the work of the union to students.
Fourth year Film student Hiram Harrington stated that their platform focuses on three major areas: “engagement”, “accessibility”, and the “future”. “The student’s union undeniably has an engagement problem”, according to Harrington. They propose to address this issue by creating friendly content and graphics and by increasing transparency with the student body.
Also addressing the engagement issue, Philly Holmes, a Senior Sophister Music student, emphasised that he believes that the union “already does so much great work”, but that “not enough students know about it”. He promised to update TCDSU’s digital marketing strategy to communicate better with students. Holmes further stated that he would work to build “better links to local business”, as well as bringing back upskilling programmes within the union.
Harrington explained that accessibility “is something very close to [their] heart” and described their hope to implement dyslexia friendly fonts and to streamline the weekly email with “visual friendly” content and “image to text options”, while Holmes promised that he would make the union “more accessible, digitally visible and sustainable”.
Hugh McInerney, the sole candidate for Ents Officer, began his speech by reminding the audience of his more recognisable alter ego as the creator of the Trinity Truths satire web series —a “moustached reporter with wonderful hair”. Highlighting his time working on the Ents committee for the Film Society, through which he helped organise the society’s first trip in five years, he promised to “bring this experience to Ents and ensure our events are fun for all”. McInerney intends to ensure the role of Ents continues to stand as an integral part of the Trinity student experience. Furthermore, McInerney sees the role of Ents as one responsible for drawing attention to the smaller societies on campus and helping students navigate the sometimes “overwhelming” social scene at Trinity. To achieve this, McInerney intends to create weekly videos to “shine a spotlight on events”. Touching on the final aspects of his manifesto, McInerney spoke about his intention to increase accessibility to events and to work with a more diverse range of societies and to establish Sober October. He proposed collaborations with nonalcoholic drink companies and a series of events, both day and night, in order to show students that it is possible to have fun at Ents events that don’t involve alcohol.
University Times Editor
Susie Crawford, the current editor of the University Times’ magazine Radius, outlined that she hasn’t “followed the same path as previous editors”, referencing her unprecedented bid for the editorship as a staff member of the paper who has not formerly served as its Deputy Editor. She emphasised that her unusual route, which saw her join the University Times in third year, has allowed her to know “what the paper looks like from outside the UT bubble”.
Crawford was followed by Cormac Watson, the current Deputy Editor of the paper and former Sports Editor, who launched his bid for Editor of the University Times by outlining his extensive experience within the paper, which he said has “helped [him] to grow as a journalist and as a person” and that the hours he has put into the paper “mean younger journalists can look to [him] for advice”.
Outlining their plans, Watson stated that the paper must improve upon accountability and sustainability and continue to serve students and hold power to account, while Crawford announced plans to reduce the print circulation of the print newspaper by 40% in order to cut waste and carbon emissions.
Additional reporting by Shauna Bannon Ward, Audrey Brown, Shannon Connolly, Patrick Coyle, Alfie Fletcher, Jessica Hobbs Pifer, Patrick Horan, Jack Kennedy, Maggie Larson, Meadhbh Ní Mhidigh, Finn Purdy, and Madalyn Williams.
An earlier version of this article stated that Hugh McInerney organised the Film Society’s first trip in 12 years, when he had said five years. The article was updated to correct this error at 7:50pm, February 17.