Senior freshman students have founded a new TEDx society. Richard Patrick Chui, Henri Delahaye, Ross Kelly, Connie Lillis and Francisco Onofre have been granted “auxiliary status” by the Central Societies Committee (CSC) to hold a weekend event in the latter half of Hilary Term.
The idea for the society came from sociology lecturer, Professor Richard Layte, who mentioned a TEDx talk in one of the group’s lectures.
The “auxiliary status” granted by the CSC allows the society to hold a day-long annual event without the commitment of organising weekly events. Lillis, a European Studies student, said: “We are planning to do smaller scale events because we do really want to get the student involved.”
The co-founders remarked upon the long process involved in setting up a society. Onofre, who studies History and Political Science, says: “This whole process took about a year because we were kind of in the midst of a bureaucratic gridlock where we had to get a licence from TED and then we had to go to the Trinity system to apply as a society.” Delahaye, a Business and Political Science student, added: “We decided together to work with the CSC instead of doing an independent event in order to be closer to the student community and to ensure the longevity of the society.”
The group approached the University of Brighton and the University of Glasgow to learn more about the process of setting the society up. Lillis points to the University of Glasgow as inspiration for where they’d like to take the society: “They’ve done it for four years. They started with a committee of seven people and now it’s huge; their committee is over 30 people and they have a full-on society as well.”
A date has not been set for the annual conference but the organisers are planning for the end of Hilary term. The group are also in the process of finding sponsors. Delahaye, from Paris, remarked: “Dublin is actually booming and there’s new entrepreneurs with new students in a young city. So I think a new TEDx event at Trinity would bring new sponsors.”
The theme of the event will be “Place Your Bets”. Lillis, from Belgium, says: “It’s to do with decision making and so it’s a fairly broad theme that can be adapted to loads of different disciplines across campus. We were thinking of psychology and politics, business, science, physics, anything really (…) just to share their perspective on it.”
Considering the need for a society like TEDx, Lillis says: “the idea of TED is promoting local ideas but we want to promote these ideas to the world. We think that it’s quite unique in that it aims to share ideas that haven’t been heard before. And rather than attracting guests just based on famous names, it’s really just centered around a theme and that way we can even get students to share their perspective on things. I think it (is) a valuable addition to Trinity. It would provide opportunities for everybody to get involved really whether you’re a speaker or even a volunteer or guest. Like it’s not debating – some of the other societies focus on that. It’s not networking or career prospects.” Chui, a Business and Economics student from Mauritius, added: “Really the fact that DCU and UCD have it and Trinity just doesn’t, we’re left out basically.”
The society appears to be popular already, with the Facebook page gathering 350 likes within 24 hours of going live.
Five out of the six co-founders are EU students from outside of Ireland. Talking about how this affected the development of the society, Onofre, from Portugal, said: “We actually all felt cut-off from the Trinity society environment. It’s harder for international students to access it.” Delahaye continued: “I felt the same thing. Like many students (from Ireland) came from the same high school and they know each other, they know the process of how to get involved in societies or they know people. I think it’s an issue for international students.” Lillis also continues, saying: “There is a thing in Trinity that Irish people (are) drawn to each other in general. And then the international (students) would draw to each other.”
TED, which stands for Technology, Education and Design, began in 1984 and is a non-profit organisation with the aim of spreading ideas in the form of short talks of 18 minutes or less.