A vision for a new-normal September

Ella Bleu-Kiely interviews TCDSU Ents Officer-elect Greg Arrowsmith on the role of societies in college life

When one hears Trinity Ents, it’s not uncommon to immediately think of first years in Halls and those crisp event photos with their distinctive logo in the corner, or maybe even fresh-faced students experiencing the wonders of Harcourt Street for the first time. However, newly-elected TCDSU Ents Officer, Greg Arrowsmith wants to overthrow this conception. Freshly victorious from this year’s TCDSU elections. he spoke about his campaign, Ents for Everyone, his own college social life, and his hope for future club and society collaborations.

The third-year Economics and Politics student said that he benefited significantly from college life and events during his time in Trinity, but not so much from the Ents side of things. “I wasn’t in Halls in first year and I feel like that’s where a lot of people get into Ents, but through clubs I’ve gotten a huge amount out of college socially, and I know a lot of people haven’t. There’s a whole range of people that miss out on social events for so many reasons; be that commuting or a language barrier or a disability.” When asked why he ran for the position of Ents Officer, he said that not only did he feel he’d do a good job, but also wants to pass the feeling of enjoyment that he’s gotten out of social life in college on to other students. Having been the Social Secretary for Hockey Club and Ents Secretary for Sailing Club, Arrowsmith stated that “one of the most pleasing things is bringing new people into the club and seeing them enjoy stuff and going to events or training sessions. Knowing that you brought them in is a really lovely feeling.” 

“There’s a whole range of people that miss out on social events for so many reasons; be that commuting or a language barrier or a disability.” 

Throughout his campaign, Arrowsmith pitched to organise more charity events for causes that are important to students. The basis for this is in 2019, when he organized a charity event during his time as Social Secretary for the Hockey Club in conjunction with the Sailing Club, DU Snow Sports and the Dublin University Management Science Society (DUMSS) in aid of Pieta House. That year, a member of the Hockey Club had taken their own life, and Arrowsmith said that it lit a fire under him about mental health. “People were so happy to go which was great, but also on the night there was really a recognition from everyone, that it wasn’t just about raising money but why we were there raising awareness to the issue. It showed me how much good events can do rather than just having a night out.” He feels that Ents can play a huge role in collaborating with Trinity’s charitable societies, and this “won’t only boost engagement but do some good, and most importantly raise awareness for certain causes”. 

In regards to whether certain societies are overlooked in Trinity, Arrowsmith: “Yes. Now, Ents always has to be cautious so as not to infringe on society life, and to an extent there’s only so much we can do. We can offer to reach out and collaborate. I think smaller societies can sometimes struggle and could benefit from Ents platforming them a bit more — I’d hope to reach out to them through the Central Societies Committee and give them the option no matter what their size.” We all know at least one society that has been referred to as a “cult” in our time, with some students potentially dissuaded from signing up as a result. Arrowsmith is conscious of this pattern: “I feel a lot of people see some societies as being quite insular. This is what a lot of people see when, say, a close-knit group of friends are on a committee. I’d like to work with some of these bigger societies.” For many, time spent in societies and the friends born from them can certainly shape a college experience. They are a dominant feature of Trinity life, and as Arrowsmith said, it “makes it all more personal. It can be hard in any course to make connections with people, so I think societies and clubs give you that common interest and just expose you to a whole other group of people. It’s definitely the springboard of a lot of friendships made. I know it has been for mine.” 

“It can be hard in any course to make connections with people, so I think societies and clubs give you that common interest”

As for his future vision for Trinity’s societies, Arrowsmith returned to the idea that TCDSU cannot overstep when it comes to infringing on society life, but he hopes to maintain “a supportive and collaborative relationship always”. Arrowsmith revealed that he is currently working with Leak Keogh (TCDSU President-elect) on running welfare training for social secretaries in which he’d like to open up to the Ents Committee and also the CSC. “The whole idea of this is to try and get more people in tune and aware of the potential dangers and pitfalls of nights out. In line with that I’d also more than happily run a training session for society and sports club committees. They’d be given a list of venues and contact details, and a few pointers on how to organize a good and safe night out”. 

“I have a vision for September. I’m looking forward to it all, and I’m really starting to get excited.” 

In light of the world’s current state, TCDSU are hoping to get back to some form of normality by September. “I’d imagine it to be all outdoor events at that stage and we’ll have to get creative”, said Arrowsmith. “From speaking with this year’s first years during the campaign they made it very clear that they want a week of nights out” — as advertised in his manifesto as ‘Senior Freshers’ Week’. “If that can be done in collaboration with societies that’d be absolutely fantastic and I’ll endeavour to make it happen. I think there will definitely be an appetite for it.” Finally, when asked what he’s most looking forward to during his time as Ents Officer he gave a rapid reply: “I’m most looking forward to getting back to events, but also truly the Pav getting back open. I think it’s a stepping stone and a bare minimum of social standard… if we just have [the Pav], it’ll make such a difference in people’s lives, even if we are sitting metres away from each other!” Arrowsmith concludes with a hopeful idea for the future: “I have a vision for September. I’m looking forward to it all, and I’m really starting to get excited. I feel like it’ll start to hit people that life’s coming back.” The image of such a time is certainly tantalising; Friday evening in the Pav, pint in hand, wilfully forgetting the last lecture of the day. 

Ella-Bleu Kiely

Ella-Bleu Kiely is the current Societies Editor of Trinity News, and a Junior Sophister Classics and English Literature student.