Permission was not granted tonight at a Central Societies Committee (CSC) meeting for Dublin University Gender Equality Society (DUGES) to change its name to DU Feminist Society (DU FemSoc).
The motion stated: “DU Gender Equality Society to be permitted to change its name to DU Feminist Society (DU FemSoc)”, which was proposed by the Literary Society (LitSoc) and was seconded by Amnesty Society.
It was in the hands of the society treasurers as to whether or not the society could change its name. In accordance with CSC regulations, each society treasurer was given one vote, which was done by secret ballot. Of the 55 ballots that were submitted tonight, 20 votes were spoiled and 29 were not in favour of the name change.
DUGES Treasurer Aoife Steevens asked the treasurers present not to vote in favour of the motion, but instead to spoil their votes, saying that if the vote passed, the CSC would no longer recognise the society.
The CSC stated in correspondence between them and DUGES that they objected to the change of name because, they stated, the word “feminism” was a political one. CSC regulations state that societies cannot be political unless they are affiliated with a political party. CSC Secretary Fiona May then went on to make this exact argument.
CSC Chair Benn Ó Hógáin clarified that the name change would jeopardize the existence of the society but did not state definitively whether the society would be allowed to exist post-name change or not. He argued the change would “open the floodgates and stops the CSC from being able to stop other political societies”.
CSC Secretary Fiona May also argued there would be overlap between the role of a feminism society and the role of the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Gender Equality Officer. She said that the CSC could not support the name change because CSC regulations state that “the primary object of the proposed organisation [must] not already [be] covered by or encompassed within the primary object of any other recognised University Society, Capitated body or dependent group thereof “. It is notable, however, that by the same argument, QSoc’s activities would overlap with those of the those of TCDSU LGBT Rights Officer.
Speaking to Trinity News before the vote, DUGES Chair Ciara Hamilton said that she was feeling “pretty optimistic” that the vote would pass. “I don’t think we should have any of last year’s issues with confusion and quorum” she said, and added: “I think there’s a good understanding of our arguments so hopefully we’ll have a positive result”.
DUGES’ change of name as been a contentious issue for the society in the past. In March 2017, the members of DUGES voted unanimously to change their name to Dublin University Feminist Society, or FemSoc, however, at the CSC Annual General Meeting (AGM) the following day, the motion did not pass as not enough treasurers were not in attendance to vote.
In a statement to Trinity News at the time, however, the CSC Secretary, Patrick O’Boyle, said that regardless of the motion by DUGES members, the name change would not have been possible even if there had been a quorum. “The position of the CSC was that the motion represented a fundamental breach of Article 10 of CSC’s constitution,” he said.
Additional reporting by Sarah Meehan.
This article was altered at 6:21 October 3. A misprint in the article incorrectly stated “LGBT Officer” when the correct title for the role is LGBT Rights Officer.