Running as the uncontested candidate for the role of communications and marketing officer, final year Law and Politics student Aiesha Wong has the support of 87.74% of votes in a poll conducted by Trinity News during election week. The remaining 8.86% of votes in this category were spent on votes re-open nominations (RON). However, from the total of 455 votes, 42.64% remain undecided.
In previous years, Wong held the position of Public Relations Officer (PRO) for various societies, such as Trinity Women in Law, Trinity Women and Gender Minorities Review, and Trinity Law Outreach Society, among others outlined in her manifesto.
Support for Wong spans a wide range of Trinity’s student demographics and faculties. Students identifying as non-binary made up the largest base of support, standing at 59.1%, compared to 44.1% of male students and 50.93% of female students pledging their support.
Support across faculties for Wong’s campaign varied, with the largest branch of support from the students of Science and Technology, at 51.61% and Arts and Humanities, at 49.85%. These faculties are followed by 37.50% of Health Sciences and 36.84% of Multi-Faculty students pledged their support to Wong.
As one of four races which are running uncontested in this year’s election, Wong’s electoral campaign has evaded the scale of scrutiny faced by other candidates. Coupled with her absence during council/equality hustings, her policies and manifesto have not been dissected as thoroughly as with her counterparts, likely adding to the number of undecided voters. However, with this considered, Wong has presented herself to be a capable and enthusiastic candidate for the role, steadfast in how she believes the role should be managed, and aware that she represents “only one single perspective”, emphasising the importance of “demystifying the union” should she succeed in being elected.
During the first appearance of all candidates at dining hall hustings, a key aspect of Wong’s speech was the importance of giving the students union a “larger, more collaborative role across campus”, proposing that TCDSU would “feel like a part of every-day student life.” Facing the crowd at front square, Wong also spoke about her desire to “negotiate sponsorship that are student-focused,” commenting how having used the majority of TCDSU discounts available to her, she is aware as to how despite the discounts being “small or for simple things, they all add up”.
Wong expanded further on this in her interview with Trinity News saying: “As a working class woman, I’ve used every single discount at the union email.” Wong also pledged her support for making basic toiletries to be available to students for free: “No one should have to pay for sanitary products and I think this is a doable thing as well, because we’ve had sponsorships that do that.”
Wong has also focused on amplifying minority voices in her campaign. “As a woman of colour, I wish to use the SU to highlight issues affecting minorities and disadvantaged individuals” Wong noted. This is another aspect of her campaign that has likely resonated with students.
Throughout her campaign, Wong has emphasised the importance of improving transparency within the student union, advocating for more engagement from the greater student body. Commenting at media hustings how she believes the “main reason that people don’t engage with the union is because people feel it isn’t for them”, Wong aims to reform this by renewing the current social media policy of the union, and diversifying communication with students through alternate forms of media.
During her appearance at media hustings, Wong was questioned on her plans to reform the student union’s relationship with its sponsors, a key point in her manifesto. In her response, Wong highlighted the importance of “accepting sponsorships from companies that don’t go against the student union’s current policy”, adding her intention to include voices from the general student body through establishing an “anonymous place where people can give their feedback without fear of retribution”, seeking to approach the “subjective” nature of cancel culture as objectively as possible. Wong also noted that “there’s a lot of public outrage and being cancelled and cancel culture. It’s very hard because it’s very subjective sometimes.” Wong emphasised that it is very important to hear what “the actual student body thinks”. This is another incident where Wong was faced with a tough question and performed competently. Her focus on listening to students and general student-led approach to sponsorships may be fundamental in securing her the necessary votes to win.
Another area of her campaign which Wong has given great attention is the importance of diverse language use by both TCDSU and communications team. In her interview with Trinity News, Wong commented how “it would be nice to have translations for key updates,” identifying the Chinese and Indian student populations in College who may benefit from translation of TCDSU correspondence.
When questioned on the topic at media hustings, she outlined that she wanted “to promise things that are practical” adding that “there should be more focus on having Irish language workshops”, proposing greater inclusion of the Irish language “even if its just a dia dhuit”, – a stance very appealing to the Irish-speaking community within Trinity. Methods suggested by her to achieve this goal include collaborating with part-time officers within TCDSU to establish dedicated workshops for translation.
Also during Media Hustings, Wong was questioned on her plans to drive engagement with the union from the wider student body. A consistent theme in this year’s elections, Wong is pledging to use the communications and marketing role to drive engagement up. She noted that: “I think the main reason that people don’t engage with the union is because people feel it’s not for them.” Wong stated that in her own experience, she saw the members of the council as “people who did secondary school debating”. She believes her position as a relative outsider to the union will be a key advantage for her in driving up engagement. This outsider perspective may also be beneficial to Wong in engaging with voters that feel disenfranchised from the union. Though her race is uncontested this outsider perspective is clearly very attractive for students.
Also related to her goal to “demystify” the union, Wong wants to expand the union’s online presence. Wong wants to modernise TCDSU’s use of social media. The union currently conducts most of its online activities on Instagram. Should Wong be elected she wants to expand into using TikTok and other platforms. She highlighted this at Media Hustings saying: “In terms of like a industry perspective, we should be having a TikTok, you know, we should be doing more reels and stuff. And also, it’s just more accessible to people who can’t, you know, are visually impaired, maybe they need audio or something.” Given how many students use TikTok on a daily basis this is yet another example of how Wong aims to engage with the most students she can and in the most diverse ways in her remit.
When interviewed by Trinity News, Wong was asked to consider what the most valuable experience she would bring to the role. Calling on her background in various “creative outlets” and “legal based aid”, Wong was confident in her ability to “blend into whatever is needed” within the student union: “I felt like I had enough experience to be good at the job because I wouldn’t want to run for something that I didn’t think I’d be good at.”
Wong also addressed her plans to collaborate with other bodies on campus in her role, including partnerships with Trinity societies and publications: “I think a lot of the engagement for campus life outside of lectures comes from either societies or publications. So it makes sense that the union should involve themselves a bit more collaboratively with those two bodies.” She wants to do this by promoting the “smaller publications” in the TCDSU email. This again, appeals to voters who are not engaged with the union but may be engaged with other activities on campus.
When questioned on the potential for overstepping and controlling with the above partnerships, Wong answered simply and competently. She assured that “you can support societies without taking them over” and noted that “the student’s union already collaborates with societies, and they do it in a way that doesn’t take over. It’s very easy to collaborate without controlling”.
Pending an dramatic upheaval of the current voting statistics, Wong appears set to secure the position of communications and marketing officer. Despite her absence from Equality/Council Hustings, Wong evidently has a clear understanding as to the importance of the role. Her clear communication of her policy and manifesto points bode well for the role of communications and marketing officer. Should she be elected Wong’s term seems set to be defined by transparency and inclusivity within the students union.
Additional reporting by Kate Henshaw.