Tonight represents the final hustings events candidates will face, with voting due to open tomorrow morning. Voting will run until Thursday March 2, entirely online.
Zöe Cummins reiterated the advantages of her past experience at tonight’s Halls Hustings, the final hustings of the 2023 campaign period. Cummins believes she is the best presidential candidate due to her extensive involvement with the TCDSU since she entered Trinity.
“I’ve been involved with the SU since first year and the wider college community. I’ve seen the SU for its faults and its successes. I’m a current sabbat and it’s really not easy so the fact that I’m standing here saying ‘I feel so passionate and I want to do this again’ shows how I want to lead this forward and carry on the momentum.”
Questioned by current JCR president, Teni Shittu, about her manifesto points regarding placement students, Cummins reaffirmed her plans to reach out to and directly engage with placement students and health science students. “The current structures and systems in the SU aren’t catered towards health science students, things like council. We need to make sure to go out to them, we need to go to Tallaght, we need to go to James’.”
When asked what makes him the best presidential candidate, László Molnárfi responded, “I have experience both within and without the system.” He highlighted his work as chair and founder of Students4Change, as well as his role within the Union as the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy (SSP) convenor.
On the topic of part-time officer elections, Molnárfi criticised the current system of electing part-time officers, claiming that the council electing the part time officers created a “barrier to entry”. He said that it “would be much better if part-time officers put themself forward to the entirety of the student body”. He argued that this would help engagement but added that it would “require a constitutional change”.
Responding to a question on why she was the best presidential candidate, Schaaf was quick to mention her “diverse experience” – “I’m trained to go to international conferences, I’ve worked in the pav and buttery, I sat schols”. She further outlined how she is “used to working in a crisis”, and concluded by remarking on her “problem-solving strategy and cause-led engagement”.
When asked how she planned to increase the presence of the Trinity College Student Union amongst first years , considering she hadn’t reached out to the JCR , Schaaf said that “Fresher’s week would be a great opportunity to do so”. She admitted that she “didn’t reach out” to the JCR during the campaign, but said she “did try to find key focus groups and did ask my first year friends”. Reflecting on her own experience, Schaaf remarked on how “There’s quite a lot you only realise in second and third year”.
She concluded her response by saying “A lot more can be done for the online presence”, for the students to “Get access to all the things the SU does for them”.
Sole candidate for education officer Catherine Arnold was first asked how they plan to support disabled students in Trinity Hall when “Halls is not very accessible for students”. Arnold explained that they believe the main issue is that “professors [need to] better understand LENS reports]” and wants to “liase” with staff to inform them further. They also said they “would love to hold an event [in Halls] that would be informative on how to register with the disability office” to improve the “conception of what it means to register with the disability office”.
When asked about how they plan to represent health science students, particularly those in St. James’ Hospital, Arnold said they plan to “hold office hours regularly in St. James’” and operate on more “flexible hours” to “facilitate broader discussions” with students on clinical placements. Arnold also wants to increase their “online presence” by operating office hours both online and in-person.
When asked how they plan to hold tutors accountable through their proposed “tutor partnership agreement”, Arnold explained that “tutees don’t actually know the line is to ask for a new tutor”. Arnold wants to “inform both sides on the responsibilities they have to each other” so students will know when they can request a new tutor, “especially for crisis moments”.
Welfare & Equality
Sole Welfare and Equality candidate Aoife Bennett was asked about the implementation of consent workshops, and whether they would take place in-person or online following last year’s precedent.
Bennett plans for a hybrid model, stating she felt this “would be the best moving forward” so “more people can go to it” while also fostering the greater engagement that comes with in-person learning.
Questioned on how she would provide for more union engagement in Trinity Hall in a welfare capacity, Bennett spoke on her experience being JCR Welfare Officer, noting that: “I know what it’s like being on the JCR and know it’s really hard to balance with College.” Bennett also noted that she envisions herself as, “not taking over their role”, but rather “being there to offer support, never wanting to step on the position’s shoes”. Bennett also confessed that her own experience in the JCR welfare role was, “personally very stressful”.
Similarly, Bennett also intends to promote inclusivity without infringing on the work of other societies. Responding to a question on Cumann Gaelach and that union may detract from society engagement, Bennett countered that she wants “to be an extra support to them” and expressed her desire to get “welfare information out to students in multiple languages”.
Comms & Marketing
The sole candidate for Communication and Marketing officer Aiesha Wong was not present at Halls Hustings this evening.
When asked how she will engage first years Nadia pledged to ensure JCR and first year involvement in Ents. She “want[s] to be sure JCR Ents is really involved in what [she has] planned” and she has a lot of plans for the upcoming year.
The candidate put emphasis on promoting the ideas she has for next year including a student run flea market and a “culture ball.” She believes these ideas are what makes her most qualified for this position. She says that she is “the most creative” out of the candidates.
When asked if she feels she “lacks” the experience for the role Nadia said: “I actually do have a lot of experience organising a lot of events outside of college,” says the candidate, “some weren’t very legal, but I do have a lot of organising experience”.
When asked about JCR involvement in Ents, Kelly promises “actual constant engagement with JCR ents”,he says he will “translate into better events and better planning”. He pledges the coordination of the two to ensure events won’t clash and first years can be involved in both. A major campaign point of Kelly’s has been improved communication, and he again used this in an answer on how he will cater to Halls. He said today on the disconnect that some feel between JCR Ents and TCDSU Ents that if “the people in halls can visibly see that cooperation going on” the situation can be resolved.
Kelly was questioned about the accessibility of his manifesto as much of his campaign focused on accessible events.The JCR officer highlighted that his manifesto doesn’t offer plain text or Irish options. He points out that he actually has made plain text available on his platform but concedes the fact that he is “very bad at social media and it is something [he] should improve on”. He noted that he is “not fluent in Irish and [he has] done [his] best to engage with people who speak Irish” to rectify this issue.
When asked what makes him most qualified for the Ents role, he says that he “has a really clear vision for Ents”. He said that “it’s really important to empower students to be better and to have more connections”. He said he has “a really clear vision for what [he wants] for Ents”. This includes decentralisation, increased “diversity through accessibility”, improved communication, and an Ents Handbook for all societies and sports clubs.
When asked about how to prioritise communication with JCR Ents, Olivia Orr said she will rely on her experience as last year’s JCR Ents officer to ensure that “we can get first years involved as soon as possible”. She highlighted that her goal to involve first years is underscored by her working with a first year DJ for her campaign event being held on February 27 at Wigwam.
In her manifesto, Orr proposes the most structural changes to Ents of all her opponents. When asked about what makes her equipped to do such a restructure and why she has not enacted this change sooner, Orr said that “with my institutional knowledge…I know from the get go what needs to be changed”. She emphasised how her two years of experience on the Ents committee has prepared her. She believes the freedom of a full time Ents role will allow her to enact these changes.
When asked why she feels she is the best candidate for the job she highlighted her experience saying she “know[s] what needs to be changed” and “how to implement it straight away”.
When asked what steps she would take to promote first year engagement, sole UT Editor candidate Clara Roche said that she would hold more sign-up fairs and workshops. She also stressed the importance of hosting more social events in Rathmines in places like Mother Reillys, and at Halls to make them “more accessible to first years”. As social media is a primary way to reach students, she added that she would prioritise the creation of social media content related to Halls and ensure that there is always someone at Halls to distribute print editions to first years.
In response to a question about how she plans to “bring UT back to its role as Trinity’s preeminent news source”, Roche reiterated a primary tenant of her manifesto and emphasised the importance of increasing “transparency and accountability” and improving communication and cohesion on the staff by hosting more social events. With these measures in place, Roche said that she believes it will be possible to build “trust among” the staff and get UT back to “what we do best: breaking news stories and holding college to account”.
Halls Hustings began at 7pm this evening, and marks the last hustings event for the sabbatical elections. Voting in the 2023 sabbatical elections opens tomorrow morning with results to be announced March 2. Voting registration is now closed.
Reporting by Shannon Connolly, Kate Henshaw, Ellen Kenny, Eva O’Beirne, Ella Sloane, David Wolfe, Aidan Cusack, Adam Balchin, Jayna Rohslau, Rub Topalian, Charlotte Kent, Faye Madden, Stephen Conneely, Conor Healy, Alan Nolan Wilson, Emily Sheehan and Madison Pitman.