Ask the Trinity Collidge Agony Aunt

The man behind Trinity Collidge, Michael McDermott, is here to answer all your questions about the TCDSU elections

Why is student engagement so low?

Marriage rates in Ireland are dropping every year, and the average age of first marriage has increased by over five years since the 1980s. Hypotheses for why younger generations are less inclined towards marriage in their 20s range from the economy – they simply lack the financial security – to changing attitudes towards the importance of the institution of marriage.

Who is Ron and why is he running for every position?

RON is an acronym that stands for Russian Oligarchy’s Nominee. The Russian Society have been meddling in the SU elections for years, and they have become so brazen that they now just put in six placeholder nominations at the start and fill them later with their puppets.

The SU has been accused of killing student activism in recent years, with many getting sick of them ramming causes down people’s throats; what is the SU?

A students’ union is fundamentally an organisation that is meant to lobby College administration, and often the government itself, on behalf of the students regarding issues that affect their College experience. However, many people have criticised what they perceive as the modern students’ union focus on national politics at the expense of things that affect students exclusively.

For example, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) spent €20,000 of a budget already in a deficit on the Repeal campaign. Considering there was already a nationwide Together for Yes campaign that had raised €250,000 after 12 hours of crowdfunding, and that student activists would be involved in that campaign regardless of the SU’s stance, it is questionable whether the SU’s involvement accomplished much.

Basically, the modern image of a students’ union on the national stage is like watching Scrappy Doo assuming a boxing stance, shouting “Let me at ‘em!” and slogans like “Puppy Power!”, while Fred and Velma actually do the real organising. To extend the metaphor, Shaggy is usually the Ents Officer, Daphne is a debating society – well-dressed but of questionable value – and Scooby is a student newspaper, as it is unclear if more than four people actually hear him speak.

Would it be more useful if we replaced the Ents Officer with a jukebox?

I don’t get invited to parties, so I don’t know much about what the Ents Officer does. That said, I’ve quite enjoyed David Flood’s tenure so far. He’s so laid back that it must be putting a serious strain on his lumbar muscles.

Who should I vote for?

I personally always voted for the candidates I thought were the least qualified as it makes writing satire easier the following year, but if you’re a continuing student you might actually need a strong sabbatical team to help navigate through TEP, accommodation issues, and help the SU sort their finances out. So, you may want to vote for who you believe is best equipped to do that. Or do what most people do and vote for your friend for one position and rank the others in alphabetical order. Either is grand.

What do you make of there being no joke candidates?

I’m a little disappointed as there was a stretch of a few years with no joke campaigns, and I’d like to see what other people come up with. Last year, when I ran, it was my first time in the public eye and, aside from some burnout at the end from a pretty packed hustings schedule, I really enjoyed the experience and found it helped a lot with my confidence. I hope someone runs one next year. Who knows, you could end up running unopposed and get a salary to do real-life shitposting.

As a postgrad, you’ve seen a few SU presidents…who was your favourite?

I’ve always looked up to Kevin Keane. I have no choice; the dude is like seven foot tall.