College-wide referendum to be held on amendments to TCDSU constitution

The referendum is to be held alongside class rep elections next year

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Council have voted to put several amendments to the union’s constitution to a referendum of all students. Students are set to be given a vote on accepting or rejecting a raft of 76 amendments to the union constitution. 

According to the motion passed by Council, the changes involve “cleaning up” the constitution of “typos and conflicting passages”.

However, amendments have also been proposed to the criteria required to hold certain positions within the union. Nominations for the position of Officer for Students with Disabilities would only be open to students with a disability under the changes and nominations for the Secretary of the union Council would only be open to those who have served a term of office on the Oversight Commission.

The motion to put these changes to a referendum was submitted by the union’s Engineering, Maths and Science (EMS) faculty convenor, Daniel O’Reilly, and seconded by union president Laura Beston. Under TCDSU’s constitution all changes to the constitution must be approved by a College-wide vote. The referendum is expected to be held within the first few weeks of the 2020/21 academic year, alongside class rep elections

Speaking to Trinity News, Laura Beston stated that the purpose of the amendments is to “clean up” the constitution to make it more “clear and accessible”, as well as fixing small errors. 

Beston noted that the proposed change to require the Officer for Students with Disabilities to have a disability “has always been a contentious issue”, but stated that “if we don’t give the opportunity to a student who is a member of that community then we are probably not representing that community effectively” and it was important to have someone in the role who “is aware of the issues that community is facing”. 

With regard to proposed changes to the criteria required to run for the position of Secretary of Council, Beston said it was important for the occupant of this role to be aware of the correct procedures.    

Some of the proposed changes serve to formalise procedures already common practise within the union, for example the procedure for what happens if the Chair of Council is absent, which involves the appointment of a temporary Chair, approved by a vote of Council. 

Other proposed changes include the removal of any reference to TSM courses, a programme phased out with the introduction of the Trinity Education Project (TEP), and changes to sections of the constitution which reference other documents that are now out of date. 

The vote to put these amendments to a referendum was taken at a meeting of TCDSU Council, conducted entirely online. This was due to the coronavirus pandemic which has caused the closure of Trinity and the cancellation of in-person council meetings.

Council also voted via email to pass motions to mandate the union’s Officer for Students with Disabilities to draw up an accessibility policy for the union and to mandate the Oifigeach na Gaeilge to formulate an Irish Language policy. 

Council further voted to mandate the Communications and Marketing Officer to make available online the minutes and agendas of Council meetings. 

Finn Purdy

Finn Purdy is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News. He is a Junior Sophister English Studies student, and a former News Editor and Assistant News Editor.