Hustings took place yesterday evening, March 13, in Trinity Hall ahead of the election of the 2017/18 Junior Common Room (JCR) committee. There are eleven positions in total with eight of these up for election; President, Vice President/Treasurer, Secretary, Ents, Welfare, International, Sport and Music. The remaining three positions of Tech, Publications and Communications are appointed following an interview process.
Prior to JCR Hustings there were speeches from the Unity and Neutrality sides in the upcoming Irish reunification preferendum. Olly Donnelly, Senior Sophister PPES student spoke first, insisting that “it makes it harder for the North to advocate for unity […] if we have this in the South first”. Donnelly concluded by reinforcing a message of inclusivity saying: “we want to say that Trinity should be open for everyone.”
Conall Moran, Junior Sophister BESS student insisted upon the relevance of the issue saying that reunification is “becoming a massive student issue”. He warned that “fees could sky-rocket to €22,000 per year”. He told students that adopting a stance advocating for unity allows for “a softer Brexit […] then eventually no border”.
JCR hustings began with the position of International officer. The four candidates running are Ana Cioringa, Coby Zur, Guille Castellan, Jack Counihan. First to the stage, Castellan spoke of how, if elected, he “will bring people together – help them, make them feel at home and make their voices heard”. Cioringa spoke of introducing tours to Rathmines and Dublin city as an introduction to Irish culture. As the only non-international candidate, Counihan explained how he wants to introduce a “Halls for All” initiative. This would include a plan for every single weekend of the year, commenting “I think it is ridiculous we don’t already have that”.
Niamh McCay is the only candidate for Music Officer. Focusing on her experience, McCay told of how she “led two choirs, taught piano, starred in a few musicals, and was deputy head girl” in her secondary school. Her ideas included creating a music team with sub group, as well as a string ensemble or a brass bands.
Jaime Castellan, twin of Guille who is running for International Officer, was the first to speak for the role of Sports Officer. Castellan pledged to have a Sports Day in Halls, aid cyclists in finding the safest route to college, and introduce a new system for running the gym noting that: “the volunteering hasn’t worked that well this year.”
Next was Christian Moore who opened his speech saying: “I’m here to talk about sports. […] no I’m not, I’m here to talk about myself”. A joke candidate who cited “cutting the thumbs off hitchhikers” as one of his hobbies and declared that his only manifesto point is to kill the Halls cat, Moore ran out of time during his speech, removing the timer from current JCR President Sara Ní Lochlainn as he yelled “This isn’t about you,” at the laughing crowd.
Third to speak was Muireann Nic Corcráin, a self-declared sports enthusiast whose ideas included a bike scheme, inter-house sports competitions, and a Sports Day. Another joke candidate, Dominic Tcherny questioned the role, asking “Sports, what does that mean? Inclusivity, free condoms, and a better international trip”.
The first of six to speak in the Welfare race, Maxym Besh said he would set up an Ask Me Anything thread on Reddit so residents could ask him questions, and would assign the Welfare team to different courtyards. Maeve Carew, an occupational therapy student, highlighted her experience as a student counsellor in her school, involvement with Student2Student (S2S) and her position on her debs planning committee to illustrate her case for the position. Rory Codd detailed plans to create “short, graphic based videos on physical, mental and sexual health information” and to promote consent workshops by “going door-to-door early in the year”.
Speaking after Codd, Avril Fleury, a nursing student, spoke about introducing a camp-bed rental scheme for guests of residents and place a ribbon-tree in Trinity Hall as a “symbol” that mental health is an “open topic”. Aoife Grimes spoke about changing the duties of the Welfare team by assigning a Welfare team member to “every two houses in Halls” to “prevent problems before they start”. She also plans to provide pregnancy tests as well as free condoms; she said it might not be feasible to have free pregnancy tests but said they would be subsidised. The final candidate to speak was Jessica Luken. She spoke about creating a Welfare Facebook page to ensure “there’s always someone” there to talk to students if she were not available.
Of the four candidates for the Presidential race, Maeve Claffey spoke first. Her manifesto included of a jobs fair and a buddy system for students on the same courses. Claffey received several questions on the feasibility of her manifesto, particularly her suggestion to bring a medical professional to Halls once a week. Claffey said “just because we’re a little out of the way doesn’t mean we don’t deserve the same attention of other students”.
Hugh McInerney spoke of his three core manifesto points; bringing a greater society presence to Halls, bringing houses together for more events, and the making of a Halls video: “We’re gone in two months, who remembers us?” McInerney was questioned on his ability to carry out the role of President with an air of professionalism: “I love having a joke, I love having the craic, but when I need to get down to serious business I do.”
Next to speak was David Ola, whose manifesto is based on introducing house reps, house-centred socialising events, bringing societies to Halls as way to “bridge the gap”, and introducing a 24-hour study space to Halls. Answering a question from Sara on how this space would be funded, Ola referred to the introduction of a new Warden next year and the changing of Trinity’s academic structure, stating “We need to change with it”.
“I am Bill Badger Walsh” opened the next candidate, who spoke of building a bike shed to prevent theft, fixing the washing machines and a “focus on making events low cost and free”. Walsh mentioned bringing Trinity’s Student Counselling Services out to Halls once a week, which JCR President Sara Ní Lochlainn later pointed out already happens.
The role of secretary is the most contested this year with nine students running. Alan Bolger wants to distribute a “Halls information guide” through email to help incoming residents settle in to Trinity Hall and to provide information about recycling. Aodhan Cooper spoke of why he was running.“I have the drive to succeed where others said I’d fail”, he declared, providing insight into his experience as someone living with autism.
Claire Cullen said that “the role of secretary is all about experience”. Her main points included introducing a Halls website, Youtube videos, and cycling workshops. Corey Fletcher also suggested the introduction of a JCR website, as well as hosting more food drives. Steven McMahon spoke of feedback forms, clubs set up by Halls residents, as well as inviting societies to host events here. He said he would also promote the Halls Environmental team, and recycling information.
Daniel O’Reilly also mentioned introducing a website, emphasising his experience in this area, and further spoke of the environmental team and introducing recycling guides. Two candidates, Emma Rodgers and Shauna Sutton couldn’t be in attendance but had friends speak on their behalf.
Due to time constraints, questions were no longer taken from the floor. Contesting the Ents race, Shane Kenneally, spoke of his experience as a first-year rep on the SU Ents committee. Speaking about non-alcoholic events, he suggested alternatives such as water fights, stating “people who don’t drink are not boring”. The other candidate in this race, Rebecca O’Reilly, stated “weekends are really boring here” and hopes to create more cultural events, as well as placing a greater emphasis on weekend events.
Vice President & Treasurer
Candidate Con Bartels began by asking the audience to “Put up your hand if you’ve ever been broke as a student”. Bartels wants to create “more intense, more detailed” budgets, and said that he’s running to “be a leader for first years and the people on the JCR”.
Dana Costigan spoke of how she “is intimate with working with a budget”, and had many “creative ideas, such as setting aside some of the JCR budget to create a “chill space” in Oldham”. Eimear Johnson outlined her plan of creating a system for students to share transport to and from Halls when travelling to airports and train stations, as well as hosting budgeting talks and alternative Ents nights.
The final candidate to speak, Laura Kinsella said she has “a lot of experience organising events”, and would provide budgeting tips, upskilling workshops and opportunities to build networks, as well as seeking more sponsorship for the JCR card, and creating a Halls version of Dragon’s Den.
Voting will take place on Wednesday March 14 at 7pm in the canteen.
Additional reporting by Michael Foley, Mary Hartnett, Michelle Nicolaou and Aoife McColgan.