367 postgraduate students have cast a vote in the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) elections as of 5pm on Wednesday, the first of three days in the online voting period.
The numbers of votes cast on Wednesday represents 6.7% of the total electorate, according to the GSU Electoral Commission.
Speaking to Trinity News, a spokesperson for the GSU Electoral Commission outlined that the votes received today were comparable to 70% of the total votes cast in the 2019 elections.
“This represents approximately seventy percent of last year’s total poll, which I believe is testament to the job of the EC at promoting this election under the current circumstances,” the spokesperson said.
“Last year’s polling numbers were also helped by the fact that our sabbatical elections coincided with the University Times referendum,” the spokesperson continued.
The vote to elect a new president and vice-president to the union opened to postgraduate students on Wednesday morning at 9.30am and is set to continue until May 29.
The union has implemented an online voting system facilitated by an external company, Mi-Voice, to replace its traditional physical format due to Covid-19 restrictions. Mi-Voice circulated an email to eligible voters on the first morning of voting to give students access to vote.
Current GSU Vice-President Gisèle Scanlon is the sole candidate for the union’s presidency, while Abhisweta Bhattacharjee and Joseph Keegan are vying for the role of vice-president.
Scanlon, who was the sole candidate for vice-president in 2019, was elected to her current position with 82% of the vote. She holds two masters degrees from Trinity in English literature and creative writing and is working towards a third in art history. She previously served as the union’s Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) Officer.
Speaking with Trinity News following the announcement of her bid for the presidency, Scanlon said that if elected, she would be “working with the new realities around remote working” but would seek to “ensure that students receive the essential supports that they need and that the GSU responds to their challenges with clever, creative solutions and continuation of care”.
Bhattacharjee is a research assistant at Trinity’s Centre for Innovative Human Systems (CIHS) and is currently undertaking a masters in applied psychology in Trinity, having completed her undergraduate degree in psychology in the Victoria Institute in Kolkata, where she was a class representative. In an interview with Trinity News, Bhattacharjee emphasised her goal to “build a home away from home” for both international and Irish graduates.
Keegan, who most recently studied for Trinity’s postgraduate certificate in creative thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship, holds a BSc in Management Information Systems from Trinity and has completed other courses in science and finance in Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin), University College Dublin (UCD) and the Dublin Business School. Keegan told Trinity News that, if elected, he would look to “set up new processes for dealing with issues until we can get back to a sense of normality”.
The GSU annually elects two paid sabbatical officers; a president and a vice-president. The sabbatical officers sit on the union’s executive committee, which also includes unpaid part-time officers.