Aisling Leen, fourth year English Literature and French student, has been elected the next Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Welfare Officer. Leen was the only Welfare candidate this year, and won 80.5% of the vote, or 2,612 votes, while 19.5%, or 639, voted to re-open nominations (RON).
A total of 3,404 votes were counted tonight, 161 of which were deemed invalid; leaving 3,243 valid votes.
Leen’s campaign has focused to a large degree on issues around mental health, sexual assault, and consent. She has stressed the importance of ongoing campaigns to raise awareness of issues rather than solely using campaign weeks to address specific issues, as she feels ongoing campaigns can reach a larger audience.
As the new Welfare Officer, Leen wants to develop a “concrete policy for dealing with cases of sexual assault in College”. She will look to introduce “bystander training” to ensure students who witness harassment or assault know what to do in such situations. Leen will also push to facilitate student access to abortion services by collaborating with the Irish Family Planning Association and/or the Well Woman Centre, and also intends to ensure that S2S peer supporters can accompany students to hospital if required.
Additionally, Leen will work to destigmatise mental health issues, the first step of doing so, she explains, is teaching students “that it’s okay to talk about your feelings”. Furthermore, Leen will aim to introduce an online “harm reduction” video series to provide students with information on safe drug use, as well as on the negative “comedown” effects of drugs. She will move to introduce weekly meditation sessions for students on placement, and wants to provide a space for these students to discuss traumatic or upsetting experiences they may have had during placement in clinical settings.
With regards to student financial issues, Leen intends to keep available the emergency accommodation spaces for students on campus and in Trinity Hall. She also aims to provide a food bank for financially struggling students.
Leen is currently the fourth year class rep for English TSM, the Treasurer of DU Meditation Society, and the Volunteer Coordinator of the Welfare Committee. She has previously been involved in the campaigns of both the current TCDSU Welfare Officer, James Cunningham, and the current TCDSU President, Shane De Ris – experiences she cites as her inspiration for running for Welfare Officer this year.
Speaking to Trinity News after the result, Leen explained: “I’m elated, it feels amazing and I’m excited.”
Leen received 81% of first preference votes in the Trinity News poll released this past Monday.