By Kate Palmer
The Students’ Union held its annual class representative training last weekend, to the tune of over €16,000. The two-day event was held at the four-star Carlton Hotel, which was completely booked out for 210 Representatives, 40 Students’ Union Executives, as well as Union Faculty Convenors and Graduate Students’ Union Officers.
The Students’ Union found it necessary to employ extra security during the event, in light of the incidences of violence and vandalism that took place last year. At the 2009 training, members of the Union caused damage to the Carlton by throwing a table out of a window, setting fire extinguishers off and staining hotel carpets and wallpaper. This year security guards acted as hall monitors to prevent any damage being done. Extra measures such as free items for arriving at meetings on time and a Trinity Ball ticket draw were made to ensure the training weekend went smoothly.
Students’ Union Education Officer, Jennifer Fox, admits the behaviour from last year “hinders the efforts of SU bodies by diminishing their reputation in the eyes of the various authorities and the groups they have to deal with.” Nevertheless, Fox still sees the 2009 event as successful: “I think last year’s event was an enormous success in many ways. Unfortunately a couple of isolated incidents, involving a small number of people, dominated the reports”.
The Union claims that, despite last year’s events, they did not have trouble booking a venue for 2010 training. Fox says, “It is both mine and Nikolai’s priority that this year’s event is not seen as a ‘piss up’”.
The Students’ Union of 2010 to 2011 is the biggest Trinity has had yet, and everyone on the training was provided with free accommodation, food, travel and a late bar for the event. The Students’ Union were forced to pay for most of the event, as their main sponsor Bank of Ireland decided not to contribute. The Union managed to accrue €4,000 in funds . The remaining expense was taken from their grant of over €300,000, provided from the compulsory registration fee paid by all students.
Fox stated, “The time and dedication the reps put in justifies the cost”. She said the price of €20 per Representative is “not a high cost for a year of work”. The all-inclusive training event is provided on top of class representative expenses provided at Students’ Union conferences.
Fox describes the representatives as “miniature versions of all five sabbaticals”. During the weekend, they participated in a mock Council, attended a briefing on the USI and were provided with entertainment including a band, DJ and late bar. Collum McGovern spoke to the Union for a €700 fee.
Despite the evening entertainment, Fox insists the focus of the weekend was on class training. She says that class representative training is “hugely important for establishing a high profile for the Students’ Union – high profile for the right reasons, that is!
“The increased enthusiasm, dedication and activism we have observed in TCDSU class reps over the last two years has undoubtedly been directly related to the fact that the class rep training event was altered and expanded to provide more diverse training for our class reps. TCDSU is only as strong, passionate and powerful as it’s reps”.
According to the Students’ Union, “Appropriate training is paramount. Ergo, a successful class rep training event is paramount”.