The two candidates for this year’s Entertainments Officer race have demonstrated throughout the campaign period that they hold many similar manifesto points and ideas for event-planning in the coming academic year, aside from a few clear differences. However, although there has been a likeness in some of their general philosophies, Antonia Brady has emerged as a probable winner from polling results over opponent Greg Arrowsmith.
Of 1,005 students polled by Trinity News, Brady pulled in 61.2% of decided voters. Arrowsmith garnered 37.3%, and only 1.5% indicated a preference to re-open nominations, the option which, if emerging higher than either candidate, would force the election to be run again.
65.34% of the polled student population declared that they had decided definitively on a candidate in the Ents race, 27.4%, admitted that they remained undecided, and 7.3% suggested that they would not vote for a candidate in the Ents race at all.
The candidates have been largely civil toward one another during hustings, often agreeing on answers to questions posed.
Arrowsmith has consistently brought forward a series of concrete, if idealistic, plans throughout the hustings, claiming that his election would guarantee the reopening of the Pavilion Bar by September and promising current first-years their own Senior Freshers’ Week and current fourth-years a chance to return for a second Trinity Ball.
On the other hand, in response to many of the same questions, Brady has been careful to remain grounded in what she believes she can feasibly achieve, saying that she will not make unrealistic promises that she might not be able to keep and which would be contingent on the government’s Covid-19 restrictions.
The role of Ents Officer this academic year has looked quite different to previous terms as all traditional events such as Freshers’ Week and Trinity Ball have been forced to move online or be cancelled altogether in line with restrictions. Brady has remained steadfast that if elected, she has plans in place for successful and entertaining student events, whether they may be held in-person or must be conducted online, whereas Arrowsmith holds an optimistic view of a future with less event restrictions and is confident that his plans for “easing into” nightclubs would be possible to implement. He acknowledges that there might be a need for his imagined “Zoom Playbook” for online event organisers, but in a previous interview with Trinity News, Arrowsmith joked that he hoped he would no longer have to use the skills he has built this year in organising virtual events.
As with all the candidates in this year’s election, both Brady and Arrowsmith have limited their campaigning to that through social media accounts, but each of them brought in one additional aspect in hopes of garnering student support. Brady demonstrated her ability to host large virtual events by organising a “Space Jam” Zoom party featuring acts from societies such as DU Players, TMT and LawSoc as well as varied breakout spaces for students. This event was very well attended, pulling in over 150 students.
Meanwhile, Arrowsmith conducted an interview through the TFM radio show The Wright Ward, during which he interviewed immunologist Luke O’Neill. O’Neill asserted that ideally, if all adults received the Covid-19 vaccination as planned, September 2021 may begin to resemble “the good old days”, but he remained wary that nightclubs may not resume at the same capacity for some time.
Both candidates have been running on a platform featuring accessibility at the forefront of their promises, and both have claimed that improving accessibility at events is among their primary priorities if elected. Consequently, at hustings, they’ve faced questions pushing them into detail on their plans for accessibility.
The range for their ideas on accessibility has been fairly varied, with Brady focusing on keeping events low-cost and sourcing non-traditional venues that are as accessible as possible, including outdoor spaces, gallery venues and other locations with the most accessibility for as many students as possible.
Arrowsmith has continually highlighted his manifesto point of an “Easing Into It Month”, featuring events that build from small venues to nightclubs in tandem with workshops to build up confidence in students who have never witnessed nightclubs or have not entered large venues since prior to their shutdown. Furthermore, he has laid out plans for installing distinguishable welfare officers at every Ents-sponsored event, urging students to “look for the nearest red jacket” if they were to feel unsafe on a night out.
Arrowsmith has also referenced concrete plans to blacklist venues with historical reports of discrimination toward LGBTQ+ students, a manifesto point which Brady echoed when questioned about her stance on the problem of students feeling unsafe at events during Friday’s Equality hustings.
Neither candidate, when questioned by a representative for students with disabilities that, unfortunately, would promise that every event they might plan would be entirely accessible for all students. Brady acknowledged that venues that are wheelchair-accessible might still utilise flashing lights that would make the same venue inaccessible for other students, a point with which Arrowsmith agreed and stated that he could “not promise that every event is accessible”.
However, to combat these problems, Brady has formulated plans to instate respite spaces at all events, whereas Arrowsmith has stated that he would counter the issue of inaccessibility by offering a wider range and larger number of events and publish all accessibility information to students prior to the events.
In person vs online
In terms of organising online events vs in-person ones, Arrowsmith and Brady have differed on a more fundamental level than in the case of accessibility.
Brady has brought forth many ideas for the possibility of both in-person and online events, focusing on her promise of society collaborations in planning traditional Ents events such as Freshers’ Week and Trinity Ball. She also plans to instate a new Christmas Day tradition featuring society collaborations and culminating in a night out. She has maintained throughout her campaign that regardless of current government restrictions, she would be prepared to organise engaging events for students either virtually or in person.
Arrowsmith has relied very heavily on the prospect of in-person events, maintaining throughout his campaign that his plan to reopen the Pav in September will be possible regardless of current restrictions. He plans to hold weekly events there, featuring outdoor seating and different themes. However, in the case that Ents events must remain primarily online, Arrowsmith has also promised to publish his “Zoom Playbook”, which would contain interactive ideas for Zoom events to be made available to society leaders and class representatives. He has criticised virtual events this year for being too impersonal, stating that he believes the only way to host a successful online event is to restrict it to a smaller group of people with a shared interest, such as an event held by one course or society.
One stark difference that has emerged between the candidates’ policies regards the planning of next year’s Trinity Ball and Freshers’ Week. Brady plans to stick to the tradition of organising one Trinity Ball and one Freshers’ Week, while incorporating events specifically for Senior Freshers during Freshers’ Week and hosting a weeklong lead-up of events before Trinity Ball. She has claimed that the job taken on by an Ents Officer to organise one Trinity Ball is already difficult, so she sees the planning of a second event as unfeasible. Furthermore, she has argued that students in all years already attend events hosted during Freshers’ Week, so there would be no need to host a second week dedicated only to next year’s second-year students.
On the other hand, Arrowsmith has embraced the proposition made by current candidate for Provost Jane Ohlmeyer to incorporate a second Trinity Ball next year in replacement for the event having been cancelled for two years running. Arrowsmith’s plan for the second ball is that of an off-campus music event to which current final-year students will be invited. He has also said that he plans to hold two weeks of Freshers’ Week, with one week dedicated to current first years who did not experience a traditional week of events this September.
Despite Arrowsmith’s belief that large, unfocused events held virtually are unfeasible, Brady’s online campaign event that drew in students from a range of societies might prove to her benefit as poll results reveal her distinct lead in the race. While both candidates have demonstrated concrete plans for ensuring accessibility and improving the diversity of events if elected, Brady’s realistic acknowledgement of her capacity to fulfill the goal given the uncertainty of event-planning looks fit to secure her position over Arrowsmith’s attractive but arguably idealistic goals for the coming year.