Shane Collins has been re-elected President of Trinity College Dublin Graduate’s Student Union (GSU).
The total valid poll was 525 with Collins receiving 326 votes, amounting to 62.09% of the total. The other candidate, Sibeal Conway, received 199 votes, amounting to 22.67% of the total.
Trinity News spoke to the presidential candidates before the final tally was announced. Collins said: “It was great to be out on the ground speaking to different students. There was a number of concerns there that we intend to confront in the coming months. Apparently there has been record breaking turnout…turnout isn’t the only indicator of engagement, but I think the turnout shows we’ve had an impact this year. I will wait to see what the people have decided, but regardless I will give everything to the final three months.”
Asked she was feeling about the election, Conway said “It’s been a really great experience, and I’ve learnt a lot and met a lot of really nice people. No matter the result I hope for a prosperous year for the GSU next year.”
Shane Collins is the current president of the Graduate Students Union and was running for a second year while he continues his masters in Politics and Public Policy. As an undergraduate, he studied at the Marino Institute of Education (MIE), an associated college of Trinity. While there, Collins was founding President of MIE SU for the year 2013/14, operating as a voluntary officer while remaining in full time education.
Collins ran on a platform of continuing the work he undertook this year. For example, he engaged with the government and College on an extension of the Graduate stay back programme to two years, and wished to ensure the completion of that project. With the support of the GSU, he also called for the introduction of an online appointment system for the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service to improve the visa process and wishes to introduce a multi-year registration for international students to reduce stress on the system.
In his manifesto, he outlined a number of new initiatives he had hoped to undertake, which included sourcing additional funding from a corporate partner and working with the USI and Postgraduate Representatives Forum to develop a survey on mental health issues amongst postgraduates in Ireland.
In her manifesto, Conway highlighted her experience as an undergraduate and as a class rep at Trinity. She emphasises what she sees as the “imbalance” between undergraduate and postgraduate life at Trinity. She offers a 3 point plan to improve the experience of postgraduates. The most radical of these is an effort to make societies facilitate postgraduate reps and run postgraduate events. Questioned at the debate over whether she would be capable of fulfilling this since the CSC have full control over societies, Conway said that she hoped to work with the CSC to achieve her goal.
The second point in her manifesto involved measures to help international students, including optional English language and Irish culture courses for international students, and a ‘buddy’ system in which international students are paired up with Irish students. Her last point involves supporting students with mental health and extra-curricular services, and creating a “Grad-link” network to help share knowledge among postgraduate students.
Additional reporting by Seana Davis, Aisling Grace and Sarah Meehan