TCDSU sabbatical officer campaign spending to be cut in half under proposed rule changes

Education Officer Megan O’Connor presented a number of proposed changes to the way elections and referenda are run within TCDSU

At tonight’s Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union (TCDSU) Council, it was proposed that several updates be made to the rules that govern how sabbatical elections and referenda are run within the union, which are collectively known as Schedule 3. 

Among the updates are changes to the amount of money which candidates are required to submit as a deposit to enter an election and the amount of campaign spending that candidates will be permitted. 

Candidates would only be required to enter a deposit of €20 with the secretary of the union’s Electoral Commision (EC), whereas previously this was €50.

Under the proposed changes campaign expenditure would not be allowed to exceed €100, whereas this was previously set at €200. An additional of €50 would be permitted for stunts, whereas currently €80 is allowed.

Speaking about the proposed updates, Education Officer Megan O’Connor noted that the overall aim of the change is to make running for a sabbatical position “more accessible for everyone”, and there should not be financial barriers for students who wish to run.

Communications and Marketing Officer Philly Holmes also noted that the proposed changes are  “facilitate all students to run” in an “equal and impartial way”.

Updates to article 1.3 include a stipulation that officers of any organization to which the union has a memorandum of agreement may not be part of any campaign team, and must remain neutral to candidates unless they themselves are candidates. However, the rule stipulates that the EC may grant exemptions to specific individuals on a “case by case” basis.

Changes to the campaign materials section would mean that while it is still the case that only one poster and manifesto design will be allowed for candidates this design may now be printed in several different languages.

Updates were also made to article 3.3 of the regulations, stipulating that any number of flyers by a candidate is allowed and is only limited by the €100 spending limit that may be used by candidates. Flyers are now allowed to be made in any colour that is not monochrome black or purple. Candidates may now also have multiple flyer designs.

Changes to the clothing section (3.4) of campaign materials now allows for any number of printed items of clothing is permitted, and is only limited by the €100 spending limit. While the rules and regulations previously only accounted for t-shirt designs, the updates now stipulate that campaign clothing includes, but is not limited to, t-shirts, hoodies, hats, badges, wristbands and other accessories. 

All sabbatical campaign materials now must be submitted to the EC for colour scheme approval. The EC May reject any sabbatical campaign material which contains offensive or vulgar language or imagery or content that could “otherwise damage the reputation of the union”. 

An update to the election briefing article added that the EC shall “publicize general, simplified election regulations ahead of any and all campaign periods”.

In the new updates to the election regulations, the Electoral Committee (EC)’s will be “final in all matters regarding these regulations unless overturned by Council or the Appeals Board”. Previously, the EC only stipulated that they be in charge of the “fair running” of Sabbatical elections, enforce the regulations and investigate  any complaint made against a candidate or campaign. 

Updates to elections briefing, article 1.4, of the rules stipulates that nominees and campaign managers must sign an agreement to abide by the regulations made at the election briefing, when previously only nominees were required to sign such an agreement. 

The EC may now limit the campaign area in which a stall for a candidate is set up, if the candidate or their campaign team have breached the rules and regulations. Online presence may also be limited in the updated regulations. 

Additional reporting by Adam D’Arcy and Kate Henshaw

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.