The Central Societies Committee (CSC) has issued an email warning to societies about using social media relating to the societies to engage in the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) sabbatical elections.
The email, seen by Trinity News, read: “It has been brought to the attention of the CSC that society Twitter accounts have been used to comment upon SU candidates and their policies. Societies do not have corporate opinions – they do not have votes – and cannot comment upon SU candidates and their policies.” The email continued: “Individual society members may of course have personal opinions, but may not express such personal opinions on Twitter, or any other social media account, of any society.”
The warning comes after Dublin University Gender Equality Society (DUGES) sent tweets during the Equality and Diversity hustings that took place last night. Since then, DUGES have deleted all tweets relating to the sabbatical elections.
In a tweet on the society’s account, they said: “We were not aware that the use of our Twitter account was in breach of EC (Electoral Commission) regulations.” They continued: “Apologies to all, a breach was not intended, all material is now removed, and does not represent the ‘corporate opinions’ of DUGES.”
Speaking to Trinity News, Aine Palmer, Chair of DUGES, said: “Although I was happy to take down the tweets as we didn’t realise at the time that we were in breach of any rules, I do question the wisdom of such a rigid distinction between society life and student politics. Both are integral to student life in TCD, and will naturally feed into one another. Although using a society as a platform for campaigning for candidates wouldn’t be appropriate, I would point out that we were seeking to contribute to the debate. DUGES seeks to promote gender equality on campus, and Mallon’s online history is offensive and misogynistic. At the time, trying to ask questions through the society social media platform seemed appropriate, as those who follow us expect content relating to gender equality issues on campus. Retrospectively perhaps this should have been done on an individual’s account.”
Bryan Mallon, one of the three candidates running for the office of President, has come under fire for tweets sent on his personal account over a two year period from 2014 to January 2016. During the first hustings, held after SU Council on Tuesday, Mallon issued a statement on his personal Facebook page. In it he said: “I acknowledge that when I wrote these words I was 100 per cent, and without qualification, wrong. I understand my mistakes and that understanding is one of the things that will drive me towards making the SU and Trinity College a more equal place for women, and for everyone.”
The CSC did not respond to a request for comment.