GSU candidates touch on fees, accommodation and “radical change” in first hustings

The hustings took place on the first day of campaigning

Trinity’s Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) held the first hustings this evening in the annual sabbatical officer elections. The two positions contested are the President and Vice President positions.

The first candidate to speak was Dr Gogoal Falia for the Vice President position. Studying a Masters in Business Administration, Falia praised the diversity in Trinity, describing it as the “greatest thing” about the college. Falia spoke about his desire to improve college mental health services and improving the support the GSU can provide in combating sexual harassment. Falia criticised Trinity for campus accommodation provision for Masters students and planned to help students in their visa applications with embassies.

Jamie Farrell, who is studying an LLM in Law, was the next candidate to speak. Farrell began by describing his initial discomfort at Trinity and praised the GSU for the inclusion it offers and how this meant he could “feel more comfortable in his studies”. Farrell expanded in his speech on his plans to develop the GSU community. He plans on holding regular outreach events and focused on the difficulties international students faced in GSU involvement.

When asked about engagement with other candidates, Falia proposed creating WhatsApp groups with students in other faculties in addition to a monthly meeting to get more students involved. When asked the same question Farrell said the GSU could hold small, regular events at different times to increase inclusion.

Responding to a question about accommodation, Falia said he would remind Trinity of the issue as it reflects badly on College.“They will not take us for granted,” Falia said.

Farrell was also asked about the positive nature of his speech. He responded that he’s a “positive person who tries to see the best in everything,” but he understands the issues the union faces.

Oisin Vince Coulter, a Masters student in Interactive Digital Media and the sole candidate for President, began by listing the serious issues the union faces and College’s disinterest in engaging with the GSU about them. “There is frankly no point in having a seat at the table if our voice is never heard,” Vince Coulter said, highlighting the need for “radical change” and a “paradigm shift” in how the GSU deal with College.

He believes that College should view graduate students as workers and cited the work postgraduate students do as teaching assistants, invigilators and their research contributions. He described postgraduate students as the “backbone of the university”.

Continuing on the topic of the GSU as a workers’ union, he said: “I think the we need to look to trade unions” and said that while the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) are a “very good organisation,” he believes they don’t pay “much attention to postgraduate issues.”

Additional reporting by Michael Foley.