Jennifer Fox acknowledges that the role of Education Officer is “not full of glamorous policy”. She pledges to make the Students’ Union approachable, and improve student services by introducing a College Virtual Learning Environment. “I don’t think we have the top services in Ireland” she explains, “there’s so much red tape”.
Fox intends to make the Students’ Union more “accessible, approachable and accountable” by introducing regular clinics for officers, held away from the “ivory tower” of House 6. This “has to happen for the integrity of the SU campus-wide” she says, aiming to overcome a perception that the Union is elitist.
The Senior Sophister Genetics student claims she knows what it is like to be “outside the ‘SU bubble’”, but currently sits on the Union Education Committee.
Fox describes current Education Officer Ashley Cooke as “a friend”, and her opinion of Cooke’s administration is high. She considers him to be achieving his manifesto promises with success. Her plans to make the Union more approachable, Fox says, are “absolutely not” an appraisal of the current Education Officer’s performance. “Ashley has done a fantastic job” she added, “I would want to maintain this”.
On the subject of Trinity Library opening hours, Fox admits that a speedy resolution of the problem seems unlikely. The issue of Library cuts, she says, “has plagued sabbatical officers for years”.
“I would love to introduce a modern, personalised, effective “virtual learning environment” such as Moodle or Blackboard. A new, easy-to-use system would increase the amount of online notes, reading lists, references for specific courses as well as encourage the use of modern technology such as podcasts and video links provided by lecturers”, says Fox. When asked if the online availability of course material could be controversial among academic traditionalists, Fox says, “the VLE wont do your degree for you, nothing replaces a book”. In response to fellow Education Officer nominee Dave Preston, Fox comments, “education shouldn’t be gimmicky”.
Dave Preston says suggestions that he is a ‘joke’ candidate is “slander” propogated by a Students’ Union which “robbed” him of success when he ran for the office of President last year. Canvassing for the role of Education Officer, Preston does not consider it to be a consolation prize. He insists that the position of Students’ Union President is “a puppet role”, considering the Education Office to be the actual seat of power.
The Junior Sophister student of Philosophy and Classics is a vehement supporter of tuition fees, insisting that their re-introduction would help to advance Trinity’s public image as a “bastion of Protestantism”.
“We do not need handouts from the Irish government” he explains. “We are not Maynooth. We don’t fly the Irish flag, there’s a good reason for that.”
Preston says he and his campaigners aim to redress Trinity’s “parody of itself”, donning suits and top hats. The nominee claims that fees would help to re-establish College’s Anglo-Saxon heritage which has been allowed to “slip by the wayside”. When asked if he was in receipt of free fees, Preston evaded comment.
Preston expresses interest in Students’ Union President nominee Dan Reilly’s Trinity Intellectual Traditionalist Society, envisaging “we’d have a lot to talk about”.
In a departure from his Presidential promise last year to “fuck cricket”, Preston now intends to make the sport compulsory among students. He is openly critical of the “‘Angela’s Ashes’ food” provided by the Buttery and says he would replace this with weekly venison.
Confident his election proposals are “in the bag”, Preston says he is prepared for the role of Education Officer, citing his experience in the underground “Shadow Union” he formed after failing to secure the Students’ Union Presidency last year. He assumes full responsibility for another semester without dinosaur attacks and professes to take a vigilant stance with “knackers” who cut across campus to get to the Dart.
In a surprise bid for re-election, Welfare Officer Cormac Cashman wants to secure the “job I love, even on the bad days”, for another year’s tenure. Cashman says he has the distinct advantage of “knowing the ropes, which can take about three months”, over a sabbatical officer coming in for the first time, and “the network of contacts I’ve built up over the past year gives an element of continuity to the position, which can be made difficult because of the short tenure”.
Cashman hopes to build upon his organisation of Welfare events including Mental Health Awareness Week, Rainbow Week and SHAG week. He cites his creation of an accommodation advisory service as a “huge success”, which he says “housed at least 60 Trinity students, and made sure students could get a place more cheaply and easily”.
Cashman has also been involved in assisting students with budgeting and managing their finances, by advising them on the grant system and providing charts, which he says is “essential in the current economic climate”.
The grants system is something which Cashman would be keen to reform, and if elected would lobby to change the current system which he says is “not tenable, it needs to be centralised because currently there are thirty different bodies administering grants, and students aren’t given access to enough information”.
Cashman says it is “unacceptable” that students in receipt of grants did not receive the funds until as late as January, forcing them to pay months of rent without any financial assistance.
The student in BESS says it can be “daunting when you’re finding your feet as a sabbatical officer”, and advises incoming Students’ Union officers to “get as much as a cross over between officers as you can, so that there can be a transfer of experience and knowledge”.
Physiotherapy student Stephanie Fleming feels she can make a “tangible difference” if elected Welfare Officer. She says her course makes her a “very passionate person in caring for others”, and the Welfare Office is an extension of this.
The final year student has been active in the Students’ Union for three years now, and has been a class representative. She is currently Deputy Convenor for the Health Sciences faculty and a member of the Welfare Committee.
Fleming wants the Welfare Office to be as approachable as possible, as a position designed to “help the student body”. She is keen on promoting issues such as mental health, which is she feels still has not reached the forefront of the Welfare agenda. Fleming also wants to further promote Rainbow Week, and revive Road Safety Week in Trinity.
Fleming aims to address the underutilisation of services available to students. “There is a shortfall in the use of services”, says Fleming, “the information on the Student Counselling Service website, for example, is routinely out of date and as such is fatal in helping students to reach out”. Fleming points out that the opening hours of Niteline are stated incorrectly on advertisement posters.
Fleming seeks to give a hand to the peer mentor programme, which she aims to expand to all faculties and course.
When asked about the performance of the current Welfare Officer and fellow nominee Cormac Cashman, Fleming claims she “would have done things differently”. She says the “opening hours of many of the Welfare services are very limited and do not help those students who do not study on campus or have extended College hours.” Fleming plans to stretch the Welfare Office out to all of Trinity’s campuses, “as many students are not specifically based on Trinity’s campus”. Fleming points out that there were many last-minute changes on the Welfare calendar this year that she feels she would have done differently.
“The Ents Officer is there for the students and I want to provide what the students want”, says Keith Florea. The Junior Sophister BESS student feels he is the one to “make the change” in the position of Entertainments Officer. He says the incumbent Ents Officer Mick Birmingham has “done well, but there is room for improvement”. As a member of Birmingham’s Ents team, Florea claims to have “seen first-hand the areas where Ents collapses, and I can be the one to fix this”.
Florea says there should be more variety in the Ents programme. He wants to cater for those students whose interests range from classical to heavy metal rock, by organising more trips away and creating a greater variety on nights out.
Some of Florea’s ideas include having a stronger student input through internet polls and more on-campus entertainment, with “students working together, and not just filling venues”. If elected, Florea says he will transform the Ents website into somewhere students and societies can visit to gain information on events.
Florea has ideas to create a summer festival in Trinity, similar to Oxegen in Kildare. He aims to make nights out and entertainment as affordable as possible to students, through discount vouchers and off-licence prices in nightclubs.
The proposed Student Centre is “absolutely vital”, according to Florea. “At present there is no such centre in the College, whereas the majority of colleges do have one”.
“The Pav is not a sufficient venue to have live gigs in terms of licensing. In order to bring more variety into the Ents programme, a running students centre is the key in order to achieve this.”
If elected, Florea would be taking on the renewal of the Trinity Ball contract, an area in which he insists “Trinity does have a say in. MCD are not the only promoters Trinity can use to run the event, and if necessary there are other promotion compnies around if the decision comes to exit their contract”. Florea says he feels the Students’ Union does not received adequate profits from the Trinity Ball. Florea is keen to have greater student involvement in the choice of acts at the Freshers’ Ball, as well as Trinity Ball, with a choice of up to four headliners.
“I want bigger resources, with a bigger budget, on a bigger scale”, says Darragh Genockey, whose main aim as Entertainments Officer would be to “make student events better”.
Genockey describes himself as “Mick’s second in command”, and is an active member of current Entertainments Officer Mick Birmingham’s team. He says he took over from Birmingham when he was on holiday, becoming de facto Entertainments Officer for a week. He says the Ents crew is important as it enables students to “stay on from Mick and work up the ranks”. If elected, he would have a team of five to ten members to assist organising events. Genockey says he can “work with designers to get better deals” when advertising student nights out.
If elected, Genockey aims to create an “Entertainments management package”. This would involve working with societies and sports clubs in order to help them organise nights out and improve communication between events organisers across campus.
“We need more cooperation with societies, and more involvement with the Students’ Union. This doesn’t mean to say I want the SU to completely dominate”, says Genockey, who has “no interest in taking over whatsoever”. Genockey says organising events for the first time can be “overwhelming”, and “even doing little things like getting printing organised can be very difficult- like using the printers in Reads, for example, is a confusing process and something which the SU should be giving advice and information about”.
Genockey is involved in a number of College societies, and is Social Secretary for DUBES and the Cancer Society. He has also worked with the entertainments aspect of DU Players.
The BESS student says he has an interest in live music, and is a member of the Alternative Music Society. He aims to introduce music events to Trinity that go beyond the Trinity Ball and Freshers’ Ball, introducing a greater variety to student nights out. Genockey has been managing a Dublin-based band for the past three years, and organised a student gig night last Michaelmas Term.
“My main selling point, is that I don’t do BESS”, says prospective Entertainments Officer Conor O’Toole. The Senior Freshman Engineering student says he will make sure all students have access to “free ents”. When asked how this would be funded, O’Toole explains that alcohol revenue would subsidise club charges, and, more specifically, that he doesn’t really care about money at all.
O’Toole is keen to encourage alternative music at College events, and says he wants to “get the Pixies in for Trinity Ball, if I wanted to see some band from Dublin I could go anywhere”. O’Toole is currently involved in publicity work for Trinity’s Alternative Music Society.
If elected, O’Toole would like to organise “Nudist getaways” for Trinity students, citing a number of suitable beaches across Ireland. O’Toole did not appear to have a plan to deal with the issue of legality.
“I’m definitely a tea man, and we should have a large on-campus tea room right here in Trinity”, says O’Toole, “It should have a range of different teas for students. You’ve got to remember that Ents isn’t just about organising club nights!”
O’Toole also claims that the answer to the question “what amkes him Ents?” is “being Ents” since 1991. One of his pipe-dream projects is to bring Pink Floyd to Trinity, including all the original band members. He believes that this will be possible with the aid of the genetics department to clone those band members who have passed away.
The Engineering Senior Freshman is currently involved in work as a comedian.
O’Toole is a Senior Engineer at Trinity FM, and is the Amenities and Facilities Officer for the Comedy Society. O’Toole is also involved with the Juggling Society. He currently works as a Sports Writer for The University Times.
Running unopposed, Tom Lowe is running for Communications Officer to become part of an “SU that communicates with you”.
Lowe praises current Officer, Rob Donohue, for his creation of the Students’ Union broadsheet newspaper, the University Times, although says he could “do more”. Lowe is keen to improve the role of the Office in managing communications with students, “using not just the newspaper and website but social media as well.” He says this could be used as a “platform for spreading Students’ Union policy and informing students more efficiently than just relying on class representatives”.
“Communications Officer is not just about being an Editor”, says Lowe, “we need to communicate to students on a College-wide and a national level, and online media is the perfect medium for this”. The Junior Sophister is currently Web Editor for the Trinity News, and has worked as a Copy Editor and Deputy Opinion Editor. If elected, Lowe wishes to replace written reports of Students’ Union councils which “no one reads” with video reports, “to inform the student body of where money is going”.
At the forefront of Lowe’s campaign is a bid to protect freedom of speech in Trinity. The Economics student is currently involved in The Piranha’s ongoing publicity campaign to ensure journalistic independence in the University. Lowe is currently Treasurer of Trinity Publications, where he is responsible for the finances of Trinity News, TCD Miscellany, and The Piranha.
Lowe has previously been a BESS class representative, and is a DUBES committee member along with holding the Librarian position for the Politics Society. He has professional experience with a PR firm, and feels this involvement “reflects the role of Communications”.