Gisèle Scanlon has been elected as the president of the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU), attracting 85% of votes cast by postgraduate students since Wednesday, with Abhisweta Bhattacharjee elected vice-president.
Scanlon, the union’s current vice-president, was the sole candidate for president. Bhattacharjee was elected vice-president with 72% of the vote against opponent Joseph Keegan, who received 21%.
Over 670 postgraduate students voted in the elections from 9.30am on Wednesday to 5pm on Friday, representing the highest ever turnout in a GSU election with an increase of 21% on 2019 and 89% on 2018, according to the GSU’s Electoral Commission.
An external voting company, Mi-Voice, facilitated the voting process, which took place online due to the closure of College amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the presidential election, 93 voters sought to re-open nominations, with 36 voters supporting the option to re-open nominations in the vice-presidential race.
Scanlon was elected as vice-president in 2019 after an uncontested race with 82% of the vote on the first count. She previously served as the union’s arts, humanities and social sciences (AHSS) officer and holds two masters degrees in Trinity in English literature and creative writing.
In an interview with Trinity News, Scanlon said that her decision to run for president became “more resolute” as the Covid-19 crisis progressed. Scanlon identified Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, as an example of the kind of leadership she would seek to emulate. “Empathy and being politically effective are not exclusive,” Scanlon said. “I don’t think there will be any excuse for not bringing the kind of principles like inclusion, diversity, vision and community to college or graduate school.”
Scanlon is a former editor of the College Green Literary Journal and won the Spirit of Trinity award in 2018. She is pursuing a third masters degree from Trinity in art history.
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.
367 postgraduate students cast a vote on Wednesday, the first day of the elections, followed by 141 votes and over 160 votes on Thursday and Friday respectively.
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.
The Graduate Students’ Union is one of College’s five capitated bodies, alongside Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU), the Central Societies Committee (CSC), Dublin University Central Athletics Club (DUCAC) and Trinity Publications.
This article was updated at 19:44 on Friday, May 29 to reflect new information indicating that Joseph Keegan received 21% of the vote. The article previously stated Keegan received 22% of the vote.