The last hustings in the Leadership Race of Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union (TCDSU) was held in halls accommodation on Mondays night. The proceedings followed the structure of a short speech by each candidate followed by a question from the audience.
The only candidate for editor of the University Times, Sinead Baker, was first to take the stage. Sinead related her action over the past few weeks, her plans for expanding and improving the accessibility of the paper, and her desire to introduce more staff training. After describing her extensive experience within the University Times she stated that “I know how the paper works, I know how the union works”. She communicated that “my platform is about accessibility,” and “making the paper more open”. She was then asked a question of clarification on staff training- about how it would be different to what’s already in place. Baker explained that the UT’s current training comprises of an introduction at the start of the year, but that she wanted to improve the standard of writing in the UT, to “push ourselves and be better journalists,” and “come away with real tangible skills.”
The Ents candidates then spoke to the crowd, beginning with Katie Browne. She detailed her experience in being the current chair of Psyche Soc and the Ents officer for Trinity GAA for the second year running, and her “claim to fame”- the creation of the Hogwarts express quiz. Browne then went on to note her hopes for a Christmas event in Trinity, and her “Entsduction” proposal, to educate students on “what ents can do for you and what you can do for Ents”. She finished in promoting inter varsity Ents interaction, and commented that “Student involvement is key for Trinity Ents,” and that all “freshers” should “invest yourself in one club or society if you haven’t so far.”
Caolán Maher was next to speak, launching in by saying “I don’t feel ents should stand for entertainment. I think it should be about bringing people together.” He said he aspires to “foster a sense of community” by marketing Ents events as social affairs. Maher explained that “diversifying events is really important” in the context of music, and that he would like to “implement a question and answer system,” to gauge student demand. He also defined his wish to introduce a monthly Ents email. A member of the audience asked “did you bring any cans tonight?” to uproarious laughter. Maher replied “no, there’s no cans.”
Grace O’Boyle stated she had recently “connected with so many students in Trinity, from so many demographics”, and claimed a deeper understanding of what students want from Ents. This included busses from halls to every event, larger amounts of Ents tickets sold in halls, closer work with the JCR, a showcase event “for every single student to show their work,”and their “originality, creativity, and innovation”, an online “T-Calender”, and utilising the East chapel for acoustic gigs.
Padraic Rowley briefly outlined his two goals for ents- to improve communication about existing events, and to, “once a month, give you something in college to remember”. He claimed first that “people think that Ents need better events in”, but that the problem is not enough people know about the existing ones. He articulated an aspiration to inform students on events held by societies with “far more specified passions”. When asked if he would reintroduce a weekly affordable club night, he responded that there are “a lot of them out there”, and that he would work with venues on deals, but that “One single specified club night every week, I wouldn’t do”.
Communications and marketing candidates then spoke, with Emmet Broaders joking that he was not observing the “sea of first years I was expecting.” He articulated his love for halls: “I could walk accross the hall and get a cup of tea at two o’clock in the morning,” and that he wanted to “bring that sense of community back into the wider spectrum of college.” When questioned about proposals for sponsorship or marketing for the union he cited the Coca Cola name advertising which “gets people engaged” and that is the “humanism I want to bring to advertisement.”
Glen Byrne claimed the office was essentially a public relations position, in which he has a lot of experience in multiple societies and other companies including RTE. He highlighted the “serious lack of information for when you leave and go into the city” to find a place to live. He mentioned meing with daft.ie and his hopes to provide Bus Eireann discounts for Trinity students
Upon querying he stated he would be willing to run an event on graphic design and Photoshop, which is “something I love doing”.
Aoibhinn Ní Lochlainn was the first welfare candidate to speak, again highlighting her experience, and discussing her own struggle with depression in first year, and how she has “invested all my time and energy to make sure that that happens to nobody else.” She also mentioned her Back to College and Nap Room manifesto points. In response to a question about halls-specific support, she mentioned the Back to College scheme, healthy eating workshops, and “come by yourself events… events to bring first years closer together.”
Redmond too discussed his difficulties in his first year of college, and his experience in social work. He was very clear that “people should know where to go for help,” and “how to approach their welfare officer.” He also spoke about the need for support in light of the accommodation crisis. When asked about more organisational and practical management experience, he mentioned working in drop-in services on the quays, helping people struggling with financial issues and substance abuse problems. He explained that a lot of this work would be “transferable to students.”
Wafer explained that to him, the role of the welfare officer meant being an “ally for every single student in Trinity”, and “translating what you’ve heard into a voice for students”. He complimented the other candidates, saying that whoever won “Trinity is in safe hands”, and pointed out that his manifesto is “based on inclusivity and support”.
Patrick Higgins, as an education officer candidate said that in first year “I felt disassociated from my own students union”, and that he would like to improve that situation for other students. He highlighted faults in Trinity satellite campuses, claiming that in many cases the college has “provided a course but not the resources for students to succeed in that course.”
He also mentioned developing online learning, the divestment campaign, Erasmus students, and put a particular emphasis on class representatives for the Student Union.
He said they ought to fight for the mandates the SU has, as “you guys, the students, are the most important part of the college,” and that the class reps need to vocalise the student body’s demands.
Dale O’Faoilléacháin discussed how he had met with students from “across all faculties” to discuss what they would like to see improve from the Education Officer.He then succinctly reviewed his “four manifesto plans” focusing particularly on student partnership, and the need for students to be “actively involved in modular formation”. When discussing accountability he put it simply: “If you elect me, you can get rid of me if I’m doing a shit job”. He then gave an anecdote of having organised the Halls canteen the event was held in into 24 hour study space last year, and concluded that he has a “genuine interest in education in this institution”.
Stephen Carty gave an impassioned speech. He said that he had been contemplating “what halls had done for me and what I had done for halls”, and mentioned organising the halls hustings 2015, and renovating the library. Outraged at some issues in Trinity, he shouted that he wants to “tackle college financial inefficiency”, which he claimed is not just “a waste of money”, but of students’ money. He listed working towards the Green Campus in Ireland, and helping mitigate the accommodation crisis as passions. He also spoke about repealing the 8th: ”77% of anti-abortion leaders are male and 100% of them are never going to get pregnant,” and ending “cronyism” in the SU. Here he exclaimed: “We were told it was a two horse race! Well look at me now! Feel my passion, look at my ideas!” He then implored the gathered students to “please make a decision on what you’ve seen, what you feel and what you’ve heard.” He was asked why his proposed 5,000 Euro TAP donation did not feature in his original manifesto, to which he responded that he “didn’t want it to be lost in the manifesto,”
Kieran McNulty’s speech was also full of vigour. He mentioned his fight with anxiety in first year, and how “the SU supported me” and helped him to “be honest with myself”. He discussed how: “I’ve researched solutions” to problems within the SU, and mentioned his proposed petition system. Moving to the accommodation crisis, he exclaimed that “No student should live in a box room!”. He proclaimed; “I want to fight for equality with every bit of energy I have”. He finished by asking the crowd his campaign motto: “There’s only one question – Are you ready to unlock the SU?”
Dan O’Brien jokingly said “If I try to escalate I feel something would break.” He believes “there are very real reasons why students think the SU doesn’t represent them.” He complained that the validity of his campaign was questioned, as he had not been very involved in the SU previously: “If you haven’t come up through the established path.. you are excluded from the system in a very real way”. He expressed a desire to “proactively reach out to societies, sports clubs, and satellite campuses”, and explained that working in UT for two years had given him a strong knowledge of the Students’ Union. When asked about fees for non-EU students, O’Brien replied that “so many people think it’s a right (education) for Irish students, but a privilege for non-EU students”. He commented that the non-EU students could not be viewed as a “cash cow whacked by college until all our financial problems are solved”.