This year’s Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union (TCDSU) sabbatical officer elections launched at 4pm today with the annual Dining Hall Hustings.
Instead of the traditional filing of candidates onto the steps of the Dining Hall, a Zoom webinar hosted by the Electoral Commission gave voters a chance to watch the candidates lay out a brief summary of their manifestos and field a handful of questions put to them by voters.
This year’s elections are the most contested in recent history, with all races attracting two or three candidates but one.
As the campaign period begins, here’s a look at who the candidates are and some of the key promises set out in their manifestos.
Leah Keogh is a recent social work graduate and the incumbent Welfare and Equality Officer of TCDSU. She was the Secretary to Council for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic years, during which time she held the dual role of Chair of the Oversight Commission (OC). She was uncontested last year in the Welfare Officer race and was elected with 87.9% of the vote.
Some of Keogh’s core promises include securing a project sponsor for the Student Centre and bringing back College social life with her Covid-Catch Up policy. She wants to reduce and ultimately abolish student transport costs, secure subsidised accommodation for students with disabilities, and make House 6 more accessible.
Ben Cummins is a Senior Sophister BESS class representative and he was Junior Common Room (JCR) President in his second year. Cummins has been involved in student societies, having held positions within Trinity Entrepreneurial Society and An Cumann Gaelach. He has taken part in campaigns such as Take Back Trinity and Bring Back the Night.
In his manifesto, Cummins pledges to “build back community” by making it easier for class reps to organise events and plans to “support student endeavours” by providing upskilling workshops and promoting student political campaigns. His other policies include making disciplinary hearings at Trinity Hall more transparent, opening up access to student mental wellbeing supports on campus, and ensuring that College has a cohesive sexual misconduct policy that is informed by student needs.
Luke MacQuillan is a Junior Sophister PPES student and a financial analyst in the Trinity Student Management Fund (SMF). He has no previous experience within the union but recognises “how important it is to college”. If elected, he promises to “educate himself” on “some of the policy issues brought by the student union” that he “may not be fully educated on right now”.
At the heart of his manifesto is getting students involved with policy and opening dialogue between students, the union and other relevant groups. MacQuillan cites his three main goals as fixing problems with student timetabling, restoring the student café in the Hamilton building, and refunding student contribution fees.
Daniel O’Reilly is a fifth year Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Student whose involvement with the union began largely in his second year as part of the Student Staff Liaison Committee trial. Since then, Daniel has gathered further experience working within the union, such as by creating an online voting system and formalising the Diversity in STEM committee.
His manifesto policies contain promises of accessibility and transparency, such as key policies like “Walk a Module in Our Shoes”, which promises to give lecturers the experience of online learning, which O’Reilly believes will give them “greater empathy” with students studying online. His “Accessibility in Every Form” hopes to give access to incoming and current students, with surveys being conducted to locate features of campus impeding on a student’s education, such as a lack of wheelchair access. O’Reilly’s “Who’s Representing You” will seek to give greater transparency and accountability to the SU, with minutes of meetings being published and a system being implemented to allow students to contact any representative of the union, creating greater access to students who aren’t “in the know”.
Bev Genockey is a Senior Sophister zoology student. She is currently the Deputy Faculty convener for STEM, and the Chairperson of Diversity in STEM Committee. She has also served as a class representative, the union’s biology convenor, and on the education committee.
Genockey’s manifesto focuses largely on inclusion and support for students, with one of the priorities of her campaign being to improve student engagement within the union. She plans to introduce weekly feedback polls as well as a “Run For Something” campaign which would highlight the various roles students can fill other than being a class rep. As well as this, Genockey hopes to redesign class rep training and put a larger focus on disability awareness and equality training. She hopes to improve the employability of students by running a Careers Week campaign that would focus on internships and summer opportunities. With equality being a focus of her campaign, she also plans to introduce a Diversity and Inclusion document to circulate teaching staff, in order to issues facing marginalised students in the classroom.
Welfare and Equality Officer
Cathal Ó Riordáin
Cathal Ó Riordáin is a final year music student, and has not previously held a position in the union. He has been involved in the Jazz Society for several years. Ó Riordáin wants to increase the connection between societies and the SU to better serve Trinity’s students. He believes such a partnership will allow the union to better tackle issues such as as online abuse, sexual harassment and equality.
One of his priorities is to make services such as Niteline and consent workshops more available and “well-known”. Ó Riordáin’s manifesto emphasises the importance of mental health in these difficult times and wants to expand Welfare office hours in order to be available for the students who need someone to talk to, making a special effort to reach out to students on placement. He hopes to make the union more accessible to all students.
Dylan Krug is a junior sophister Biological and Biomedical Science student, and the class rep for environmental science. An OCM on the Welfare and Equality Committee, Krug has based his campaign around issues of accessibility, mental health, sexual health and finances. One of the priorities of his campaign is to make information on welfare services more accessible to students through the creation of a series of documents that would give an overview of the services available to students, which he calls “What Do I Do Now” documents.
He intends to run several programs focusing on mental health, such as a “Help is Here” campaign to promote the resources available to students, a SafeTALK training, and a Connections Week to provide opportunities for students to interact. He also promises to campaign to “reduce the fees of all students”, particularly in light of the pandemic and the subsequent financial hardships faced by many.
Sierra Mueller-Owens is a final year law and political science student and the union’s current Gender Equality Officer. Mueller-Owens has been involved in the newly announced distribution of free period products throughout campus and helped to organise consent workshops in Trinity Hall. She represented Trinity at the Union of Students’ in Ireland’s (USI) Pink Training, where she was involved in educational workshops about LGBTQ+ issues.
Mueller-Owens hopes to be a Welfare Officer who is “a voice for each individual student”, and one who promotes an environment of acceptance on campus, where students can feel comfortable discussing their burdens. She plans to advocate for improved mental health supports and focus on the financial welfare of students by working with the new Provost and the Education Officer to advocate for expanded financial assistance for the student body. Finally, Mueller-Owens will “endeavour to promote the usage of gender neutral language on campus by making training and resources on the issue available to students and staff alike”.
Communications and Marketing Officer
Aoife Cronin, a senior sophister English and sociology student, is the only candidate running without an opponent this year. She has been the Public Relations Officer (PRO) for three student organisations, including the Philosophical Society (the Phil) and Icarus. She has also worked in marketing for an international Tech Company.
Cronin’s emphasis is on supporting students “during and after the pandemic”. Through the SU’s online platforms, she aims to see that all students are aware of and can easily reach the union’s services. Cronin intends to make the union’s communications more accessible and to increase student engagement by highlighting the people involved in the union, making the SU’s work more transparent, and updating its branding.
Antonia Brady is a fourth year drama and modern Irish student and is currently the Ents officer for DU Players. She has organised over 30 virtual events with multiple society collaborations. Brady’s top priorities include focusing on accessibility with events as well as collaborating with as many societies as possible. For accessibility, Brady plans to make events low cost or free, and she plans to use event spaces not traditionally used by previous ENTs officers such as galleries or outdoor spaces. To facilitate collaboration with more societies, Brady wants to create direct lines of communication between herself and the ENTs officers of societies. To cater to a wider range of students, Brady plans to organise many types of events at different times of the day. She also plans to hold a Christmas day event before Christmas break filled with festive events for a day.
Greg Arrowsmith, from Dublin, is a third year economics and politics student. Arrowsmith points to his experience as Social Secretary of DU Hockey club, and Events Secretary for Trinity Sailing, where he helped organise a number of events, including a night out in aid of Pieta House in the Workman’s Club. Arrowsmith wants to make Ents more inclusive by hosting events in accessible venues, and by making efforts to include students who have not integrated into the social life of College. Arrowsmith hopes to run a second, unofficial Trinity Ball in the next academic year on the basis that current students are missing two consecutive Trinity Balls. He also intends to organise a Trinity sports day.
University Times Editor
Emer Moreau is a third year English and psychology student. She formerly served as the News Editor and Assistant Editor of the University Times, and became the paper’s Deputy Editor in December. She has written with the paper since her first year in Trinity.
Moreau is proposing a reduction in the number of issues the paper produces each year from nine to six. She is promising to promote student engagement with the publication and to increase diversity by setting up a Diversity and Inclusion committee, alongside creating the role of an Ethnic Minorities Correspondent. Moreau pledges to recruit more women to the sports section and wants to launch an Irish language publication in the paper.
Peter Caddle is a final year philosophy student, and is currently Chief Project Coordinator at The Burkean, a right-wing online publication that has previously been criticised by students – and former members – for publishing articles with racist themes. He formerly served as Culture Editor of The Burkean.
Caddle intends to elimitate the print edition of the University Times, citing its “exorbitant” costs. In his manifesto, Caddle focuses on the replacement of the physical paper with an online-only strategy. If elected as Editor, his new direction would see digital media at the forefront of the University Times, where he says he would apply his experience of growing The Burkean’s readership.
Students will continue to hear from candidates for the next two weeks as the thirteen contenders’ visions are put to the test at hustings. The campaign period runs until March 11, with online voting opening after Halls Hustings on March 9. Voting ends on March 11 at 4pm.
Additional reporting by Kate Henshaw, Connie Roughan, Dearbháil Kent, Bonnie Gill, Jamie Cox, Julia Bochenek, Sarah Emerson, Jack Ryan, Jade Brunton, Rebecca Deasy-Millar, Olivia Flaherty-Lovy and Kate Glen.