The second day of campaigning in this year’s sabbatical election saw all 10 SU candidates take part in the traditional Dining Hall hustings at lunchtime today. Neil Cronin, a candidate in the presidential race, announced his intention to pull out of the election in the past hour.
Domhnall McGlacken-Byrne was the first presidential candidate to address the gathered crowd. He began by emphasising his experience as a class rep and faculty convenor for the health sciences. “I’ve been involved in the SU since first year,” he said. “That might make me very uncool but it means that I know the union inside out.” His “biggest idea”, he said, is to implement four-year “democratically validated” strategic plans for the SU. He also spoke about the need for a “complaint box” to hold college to account.
When asked if he would use the position to campaign for wider youth issues, McGlacken-Byrne said his priority would be to represent Trinity students. He said he doesn’t “have a huge amount to say about what happens outside Trinity.” However, he appeared to later withdraw that statement in praising the SU’s Coca Cola boycott during the Sochi Olympics. The union has an “inherently public platform”, he said. “We can have a huge role to play in what happens outside campus walls.”
Jasper Pickersgill climbed the dining hall steps to howls from his supporters to make the next address. The main policy he stressed was his idea to create an SU-sponsored employment agency, which would assist students in finding part-time work. He also referred a number of times to the need for staplers beside every college printer. He said he would be a president that is “accountable” and “listens to you”. However, he admitted that “many people have doubted” his abilities. His membership of the Zeta Psi fraternity was not mentioned in the address but the issue was later raised by a member of the audience. As president, he said, he would “campaign against the operation of the frat.” He took part in the activities of the male-only group “as a friend” and “did not participate in its discriminatory policies.”
When asked what strategy the union should use to fight further government cuts to third-level education, he referred to his own reliance on the maintenance grant. In terms of strategy, however, he only said that he would “like to get to know everything students want.”
Katie Byrne’s address focused on the key policies of her candidacy. As an uncontested candidate in the race, she said she will expand the Trinity GradLink programme next year and engage with “industry experts” to improve students’ employability. She also pledged to make class rep training “more cost-effective”. Byrne stressed the importance of interactive education and said she will work to improve the online Blackboard system for students.
Dan McFadden left his giant teddy bear prop behind him for his turn at the microphone. The social work students introduced himself as the candidate with experience and emphasised the responsibilities he had as welfare officer for the JCR. He spoke in detail about his plans for a Trinity landlord database and said he would “personally recruit” landlords to help ease the yearly accommodation crisis facing students. As someone currently “homeless and sleeping on a couch with these eejits [his supporters below]”, he said he understood the challenge facing many students in their search for affordable and adequate accommodation. “Open up, reach out and share,” he concluded.
Ian Mooney began his address with his own personal story. “I have been depressed for as long as I can remember,” he said. “I only started speaking out about it over the past two years and so many people have opened up to me about their own problems as a result of that.” A key policy of his manifesto is to “promote positive mental health” events. He also wants to see a more wheelchair accessible Front Square and “free condoms at every Ents event”. He cited HIV statistics for the country and said more awareness needed to raised on that front; “This is something we need to spread around. The information, that is – not the HIV.”
P.J. Moloney was the first communications candidate to make a speech. As the chair of the Publications Committee, he said he has “considerable experience” in dealing with a number of student publications. He said that the SU is “not using communications as it should be” and stressed the importance of a strong multimedia platform to publicise the union’s activities. He went on to explain why he has not been “campaigning in the same way” as other candidates. “I’m a final year student and I’m serious about my degree,” he said. “I will bring that same commitment to the role of communications if elected.”
When asked about his vision for the University Times, he said he would “switch over to a system of cyclical editorships.” He said he favours different students taking turns to edit the paper during the year. He admitted to strongly supporting the communications role being split from the position of UT editor.
Samuel Riggs, the current UT opinion editor, began his address by rebutting Moloney’s point about the splitting of the position. Any split should be decided by students, he said. Riggs also emphasised the need for a better communications strategy for the SU. He said that only half of students have visited the SU website and that he would work to introduce a comprehensive campaign and policies tab on the website. The website could also allow students to bring their own motions to Council, he said. One change he would bring to the UT is the position of a health sciences correspondent to diversify the newspaper’s coverage.
Aleksandra Giersz outlined her key policies in the first Ents address. She pledged to introduce “all inclusive events” incorporating sports, theatre and art. Ents under her leadership would diversify and hold events in boats, for instance, as well as in staple Trinity venues like Doyle’s. She would also ensure that all events are held in wheelchair accessible events. “I want to hear your voice,” she said. “I want to hear about the events you want to see,” she said.
Finn Murphy pitched his candidacy as a campaign to improve the sense of Trinity community. He said he hopes to be able to introduce a new staffing system for Ents, with specific officers being tasked to organise events for the LGBT and sports communities on campus. “Pav Fridays are a shadow of their former self,” he went on to say. “I will bring in outdoor heaters and awnings to bring more people in.” He also pledged to improve the weekly Ents night and stressed its importance as place for Trinity students to meet and mingle. Another proposal is to introduce an Ents rental system, which would allow clubs and societies to save money by renting speakers and technology from the union.
Ben Ó Mathúin introduced himself as someone who has “been around the Dublin night scene for 4 to 5 years.” Among his ideas are the introduction of “cross-course” events and weekly pre-drinks at the Pav. “The Pav is ours and we need to start using it again,” he said. “It is just as cheap to drink at the Pav than it is at home.” Much to the disappointment of this reporter, he made no effort to push his “BENtertainment” campaign slogan.