Katie Ascough, a third year Science student specialising Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, has won the University College Dublin Students’ Union (UCDSU) presidential candidate race with a final total of 1,431 votes.
Three other candidates also ran for the position; Ronán Bartley, Rebecca Hart and Philip Weldon. Second year Business student Weldon placed second in the race with a final count of 1,318 votes. Rebecca Hart, the current College Officer for Health Sciences, came third after being eliminated on the third count with 818 votes. Rónán Bartley, who ran as an “outsider” candidate to the SU, was the first to be eliminated with 622 votes.
Ascough ran on a platform of bringing a focus back to college-based issues. Among other issues outlined in in her manifesto were promises to provide better on campus food facilities to students, to reduce repeat exam costs and to reintroduce sexual consent classes upon reviewing the current format, which were cancelled after failing to attract enough first-year students.
Despite criticism surrounding her pro-life stance on the 8th Amendment, Ascough’s campaign managed to secure 1,154, or 35.65%, first preference votes. Ascough was also involved in the “Yes for Neutrality” campaign last semester which called on UCDSU to adopt a neutral stance on abortion. The result of this referendum was announced in November, with the “No” side winning with a 64% margin. The Union currently has a mandate in support of pro-choice dating back to 2014.
In her acceptance speech, Ascough made reference to her pro-life stance which divided the electorate during the campaign: “Addressing somewhat of an elephant in the room, I’m going to be a president for everyone. UCD, I said it in my campaign, is an incredible place […] I came here with opinions that might not be the norm, I understand that. I have run for this election knowing that and I’ve now been elected UCDSU president [being] very aware of that and I will be a president that represents everyone.”
Ascough will join uncontested Welfare candidate Eoghan Mac Domhnaill, Campaigns and Communications candidate Barry Murphy, Education candidate Robert Sweeney and uncontested Graduate candidate Niall Torris to form the UCDSU sabbatical team for the 2017/18 academic year.