The second day of campaigning for this year’s Trinity College Students’ Union (TCDSU) sabbatical elections saw all 16 candidates take part in the traditional dining hall hustings at lunchtime today.
Gabriel Adewusi, a third-year human health and diseases student, was the first presidential candidate to address the gathered crowd. He said he wants to make the SU less “insular” by introducing ordinary seats on SU Council and launching a new class rep recruitment campaign. He had come to realise “what a powerful and capable machine [the SU] is” through his work as SU access officer this year, he said.
Nessan Harpur, a final-year student of mechanical engineering, said he was running for the position of president on a platform of three major policies: the introduction of semesterisation, a new sexual consent campaign that would educate students on the importance of consent, and a positive mental health campaign for students, focused particularly on the important of exercise.
Third-year BESS student Conor O’Meara cited his experience in student organisations and the SU as allowing him to “hit the ground running” if elected president. He said he wanted to combat students’ disengagement with the SU and that voters are welcome to add their own ideas to his online manifesto. In response to questioning, he also elaborated on his plan to tackle the student accommodation crisis, saying he had made a deal with Daft.ie that would allow students to filter accommodation searches to residences that would accept Trinity students as tenants. The property website had also agreed to work with him on a campaign week and passed on Tenancy Board contacts for his planned training of staff in the accommodation advisory service.
Lynn Ruane, a third-year PPES student, ripped up her manifesto on taking hold of the microphone. “These are only words on a page,” she said. “I have dedicated 15 years of my life to advocating on behalf of communities. That’s what we are – a community. We’re not sources of revenue.” Ruane said she would mobilise students to fight cuts to services including the student hardship fund and the student counselling service. “And if we want better plugs, we’ll take a look at that too,” she added. In response to questioning, she said she stands out from other candidates as a result of her willingness to take up direct action. She said students have been “very passive to date” and that Provost Patrick Prendergast would not be able to ignore 5,000 angry students sitting outside the Book of Kells, one of College’s most significant sources of revenue.
Molly Kenny, a third-year student of mechanical and manufacturing engineering, and the unopposed candidate for education officer, described her plans to improve the careers advisory service and make academic information more easily available to students on the SU website. She said she wants to extend skills workshops on campus and educate students about their legal rights as employees, as well as holding seminars on issues such as student loan applications.
Welfare and Equality
Conor Clancy, a final-year history student, was the first welfare and equality candidate to address students. He discussed his plans to bring in student seminars with outside speakers and lobby for the presence of specialist counsellors on campus. He said he would mobilise students against cuts to the student counselling service. “I’m from a small community outside of Limerick and I know what it’s like to be taken care of by a community,” he said. “That’s what I want to do for students.”
Muireann Montague, a final-year chemistry student, described her experience in welfare positions including S2S and the welfare committee, on which she serves as secretary. “I’ve fit [these positions] around 30 hours a week of classes,” she said. She highlighted mental health and accommodation as her two key priorities, saying that expansion of current digs databases would be one of the ways she would address the current lack of student accommodation.
Liam Mulligan, a third-year student of business and politics, said he wants to expand mental health services on campus and educate students on issues including substance abuse. He also referred to gender recognition legislation and the ban on blood donations from gay men and bisexual men as issues he would be keen to campaign on.
Aoife O’Brien, a third-year computer engineering student, said she has based her campaign on the themes of positivity, or encouraging a sense of college community; student growth and development; and stability, or expanding on existing supports for students. She also discussed the issue of accommodation in response to questioning, saying she would liaise with hotels, hostels and B&Bs to source emergency accommodation for students, and support government legislation that would financially incentivise landlords to accepts student tenants.
Louise O’Toole, a final-year social studies student, said she wants to promote both mental and physical health, and encourage more open discussion on issues such as suicide. She said she would be particularly vocal as welfare officers on LBGT, disability and gender recognition issues, working with part-time officers to make Trinity a more inclusive campus for students from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Communications and Marketing
Aifric Ni Chriodain, a final-year student of French and film studies, outlined her marketing experience with businesses and student organisations including LGBT charity ShoutOut, saying she has the required credentials to make big ideas a reality. She cited headline sponsorship for Ents and services such as the student hardship fund, a better student deal of the week, and plans to improve the SU’s online presence as the key priorities of her campaign. The SU “can’t afford not to seek sponsorship” as a result of cuts, she said in response to questioning on whether this would tie the union to business interests.
Third-year French and history student Jemma O’Leary, the second candidate for the position, rebutted her opponent’s sponsorship plans, saying she wouldn’t “sell [students] out for a few big names on a poster”. “The SU does not exist to serve corporate interests,” she said. O’Leary said that more easily available information, better engagement and improved SU strategy are the three pillars of her campaign. She cited short videos summarising each SU Council meeting among her ideas to improve the union’s social media presence. “I’ll sit through the boring stuff so you don’t have to,” she said.
Edmund Heaphy, a second-year German and philosophy student, and the only candidate for the position of University Times editor, said he would improve the paper’s coverage and editorial structures if elected. As its first independently-elected editor, he would be able to hold the SU to account, he said. He cited improved society coverage and multimedia content as two of his focus areas. In response to questioning on the paper’s finances, he said he would hope to increase its advertising, adding he would aim to cut its yearly €30,000 cost in half so that the paper would no longer be “a drain on the SU”.
Katie Cogan, a third-year student of functional biology, and the first Ents candidate to speak, said she wants to diversify the office and ensure students get access to “more meaningful, worthwhile experiences”. She said there has been “a lack of women leading the craic” and that she hopes to be the first female Ents officer in 15 years. She cited Freedom Fridays – “mid-semester celebrations of life” – and a new Ents adventure programme that would match students based on their interests among her plans to engage more students in Ents events.
Final-year law and business student David Gray also said he wants to introduce more diverse social events through collaboration with societies. He stated that he wants to expand the Ents crew with general committees for every Ents event, increase the office’s fundraising capacity and described his plan to use Higher Education Authority (HEA) funding to build a music room on campus.
Conor Parle, a final-year maths and economics student, focused on his plans to hold non-alcoholic events, saying he intends to introduce four festivals focusing on literature, film, comedy and performance art. He said he would replace weekly Ents nights with weekly society collaborations and added that he has been in talk with the chaplaincy to hold charity gigs in the chapel.