Sierra Mueller-Owens has been elected Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Welfare and Equality Officer on the first count, securing 54.3% of the vote in TCDSU’s first ever online election.
Dylan Krug received 40.9% of the vote, while the option to re-open nominations attracted 4.8%. There were 2,183 total valid votes in the Welfare election.
Mueller-Owens, who serves as the union’s current Gender and Equality Officer, emphasised throughout her campaign the need to incorporate gender-neutral language in college life, saying that she plans to introduce training and resources on using the correct pronouns and gender-inclusive language for staff.
She also highlighted the importance of mental health, particularly when dealing with the long-term psychological effects of the pandemic, saying that as Welfare and Equality Officer she would promote the use of NiteLine. She intends to introduce a series of group activities, such as meditation and yoga, to be carried out over Mental Health Week in collaboration with many of these societies.
Speaking after her election, Mueller-Owens said she was “so thrilled” about her win. “I just can’t wait to start the job, get my feet on the ground and just make students’ lives better,” she added.
During her campaign, Mueller-Owens promised to lobby the government and College to implement a fee freeze for international students. Aware that non-EU international students are often unable to qualify for many grants and bursaries, she also hopes to establish a specific fund for such students facing financial hardship.
In light of the pandemic and subsequent increase in mental health problems faced by students, Mueller-Owens acknowledged the “sense of loneliness and isolation” facing many students and pledged to hold group office-hours, the idea being that “anybody who has a concern is welcome to bring a friend with them so they can have emotional support”.
Though the structure of the coming academic year remains uncertain, Mueller-Owens emphasized the importance of giving students who are immunocompromised or unable to return to campus access to materials online, whether that be classes, society activities, SU events, or her own welfare services.