Meet the students who want to lead the GSU

There are just two days to go until voting in this year’s Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) elections begins. Five candidates are vying for the union’s two full-time positions, president and vice-president, and it looks as if accommodation, library hours and supports for PhD students will be the key issues at stake as campaigning enter its crucial stage this week.

President: Katie Crowther

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Katie Crowther, a former further education officer with Northern Ireland’s students’ union NUS-USI, is running for the position of GSU president after a year on its executive committee, where she served as events officer. The Antrim native spent three years teaching philosophy, ethics and religion in UK secondary schools before coming to Trinity to study for an MPhil in intercultural theology and inter-religious studies. Her election manifesto includes commitments to campaign for increased funding for PhD students, better services for international students and further refurbishment of the 1937 Reading Room. She is also keen to boost the profile of and investment in postgraduate research showcases and publication workshops.

President: Raj Bajaj

rajRaj Bajaj, who is studying for a master’s degree in business and management, cites accommodation, library hours and mental health as his top priorities for the position of GSU president. If elected, he plans to establish a personal email support system for students seeking accommodation, campaign for a 24/7 library for postgraduate and ensure mental health services are adequately financed.  He also wants to introduce an online petition system that will enable students to directly raise concerns with the GSU. Bajaj served as a student-staff liaison for his undergraduate class in Warwick University, and has pledged to spend only €50 out of the €300 in campaign expenses that winning candidates can get reimbursed after the election. 

Vice-president: Gianna Hegarty

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Gianna Hegarty, a final-year PhD and former MPhil student in the School of History and Humanities, is a former GSU events officer with six years of postgraduate experience at Trinity. Her campaign is focusing on the need to increase support for PhD students, establish postgraduate mentoring and peer support groups, and initiate new postgraduate academic events.  She also hopes, if elected, to establish standardised regulations for teaching assistants, and a Trinity-wide programme that would allow master’s and first-year PhD students to be mentored by postgraduates in later years of study.

Vice-president: Stephanie Wallace Chavanne

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Stephanie Wallace Chavanne came to Trinity to study for an MPhil in popular literature after three years in UCD, where she was a class rep with UCD Students’ Union and an academic rep with the UCD School of Philosophy. She became involved in the GSU events committee this year. A commitment to improving library facilities, tackling accessibility issues faced by students with impaired abilities and broadening the scope of sabbatical officer positions are among the key points listed in her manifesto. If elected, she hopes to introduce a GSU library rep to work with Trinity libraries on improving its student services, hold weekly alcohol-free events and ensure there are weekly GSU drop-in sessions available to postgraduate students based on satellite campuses.

Vice-president: Tom Roberts

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Tom Roberts, a master’s student in the Department of History, tells potential voters in his vice-presidential manifesto that he can usually be found “throwing mad shapes in Whelan’s or despairing [in the] Reading Room.” He plans, if elected, to introduce a weekly deal of the week for postgraduate students, improve awareness of the student counselling service, and organise GSU events and an academic journal specifically for postgraduates in the Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Science. Improving supports for students seeking accommodation is another of his key priorities. He is one of 10 postgraduate students to have been published in this year’s Journal of Postgraduate Research.

Updated: 10:15am, 21/04

Catherine Healy

Editor of Trinity News. Interested in politics, history and all forms of media.