Communications role to be removed from remit of UT editor

Lia Flattery

Staff Writer

  • Constitutional review group proposes splitting of sabbatical role
  • Split to come into effect in 2014-5, won’t affect upcoming election
  • Lenihan favours greater UT editorial independence

The decision has been made to separate the roles of communications officer and editor of the University Times following a review of the TCDSU constitution. The two roles are traditionally held by the same person. The change will not come into effect until the second half of 2015, meaning that the communications officer elected for the 2014-15 year will still retain the position of University Times (UT) editor.

The proposal was presented at SU Council last Tuesday by the constitutional review working group, which was set up last term to form recommendations on constitutional changes for the union. The group advised that the UT editor remain an off-books, salaried position within the SU, but separate from the position of communications officer and of lesser importance than a sabbatical role. It was further suggested by the working group that the communications officer role could be abolished outright and that the former responsibilities of the communications officer be transferred to the ents officer.

In an interview with Trinity News, SU president, Tom Lenihan, said he supports the division of the two roles and believes that the communications officer should remain as a sabbatical position. He denied that the proposed splitting of the roles was due to any conflict of interest between the SU and UT.

The reason behind the planned separation, according to Lenihan, is to enable the communications position to be better “exploited” and to create an environment in which the standard of UT can be kept up while the communications officer concentrates fully on connecting with the student body. He said that the separation of the job into two positions will allow future officers to have more time to focus on other aspects of their positions.

Lenihan also recommended that an oversight authority be established for UT. He said that this would ensure transparency in the newspaper and prevent the SU from intervening were UT ever to print unfavourable information regarding it.

In total, eleven possible constitutional changes as recommended by the review group were outlined at last Tuesday’s Council meeting.

Aside from the communications officer and UT editor split, other key proposals include the abolition of a number of current part-time SU officer roles (for example, the environmental and ethical trading officer) and the creation of others, such as a student parent officer to cater for the increasing number of students who are parents studying at Trinity; the creation of a board of trustees to advise on the financial and legal affairs of the union, and giving the SU the ability to award honorary memberships to people outside of the college.

While the decision to separate the UT editor and communications role is definite, the other proposals have yet to be decided upon and may not necessarily be included in the new SU constitution.