Nominations open today for GSU President and Vice-President

Nominations for the sabbatical positions will open today and close on May 31, with voting to take place from June 9 to June 11

The Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) nominations open today for the sabbatical positions of president and vice-president, 

Yesterday, the GSU Electoral Commission established the timeline for the elections of the union’s sabbatical officers. 

In an email sent to postgraduate students, GSU President Gisèle Scanlon announced that nominations for the sabbatical positions of President and Vice President will open today, May 28, and close on May 31.

Official campaigns will commence June 4 with Hustings also scheduled for that day. Voting for the GSU Sabbatical Officers will take place from June 9 to June 11. 

The results of the elections are expected to be announced at noon on June 12. 

According to article 9a of the GSU Constitution, the election date “shall be in Hilary term of each academic year save in extraordinary circumstances”. 

However, like last year, these elections are occurring in Trinity Term. The email explained that the dates were finalised “in consultation with the student population and College”. The timeline was “deemed the most appropriate’ because ‘very many [students] were up until now completing exams, vivas and continuance reports and assignments”. 

The President and the Vice-President make up the Sabbatical Officers of the GSU. At the GSU’s Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on April 14, a motion was passed to add a third sabbatical position by amending article 2g of the GSU constitution.

However, a third sabbatical officer position will not be elected in the upcoming election.

Speaking to Trinity News, the GSU confirmed that it is the “aim” to have a third sabbatical position opened in the following academic year, 2022/23. 

“Funding for the same was promised by the incoming Provost Linda Doyle and as such we must await her taking the seat before we can generate the position,” GSU Executive Oversight Officer David Donahue confirmed. 

Other GSU Officers, including Treasurer, Communications Officer, Equality & Diversity Officer, Disability Officer, International Student Officer, and Officers from each Faculty in College, will be elected at the Annual General Meeting (AGM), held in Michaelmas Term. 

The GSU Sabbatical Officer elections will be run on “ ‘independent online elections company” Mi-Voice, which also facilitated the union’s elections last year. Scanlon said that using this platform will “ensure that the election is completely secure and fair in these unprecedented times”.

The elections announcement follows two separate petitions calling for a vote of no confidence in Scanlon and the union’s Vice-President Abhisweta Bhattacharjee. The petitions were launched after the GSU EGM in April, due to the “lack of proper proceedings” according to Jeffrey Sardina, creator of the petition against Bhattacharjee. 

The petition against Scanlon stated that “based on the events of the recent GSU EGM, we hold the president unfit to continue in their present role”.

In an open letter to graduate students, Sardinia wrote that “there were a series of electoral problems that have led me to conclude that the GSU cannot represent me, and that it cannot be trusted with running a fair and democratic election”.

At and following the GSU EGM, members expressed concerns over the voting process. The vote on GSU divestment from Trinity College Dublin’s Students Union (TCDSU) had to be rerun, and while it was first considered to have passed, a second vote deemed it had not.

Initially, over 250 GSU members were unable to access the meeting as the maximum capacity had been reached on Zoom. Also, during discussions on motions, the chat function was disabled, preventing members from discussing the proposed motions. 

Using handwritten notes, participants raised concerns that some were unable to vote, that the voting platform allowed users to vote multiple times and that there was no verification process to ensure voters were members of the GSU. 

This article was updated on June 1 at 1:17pm to add clarification from the GSU Executive Oversight on the addition of a third sabbatical position within the union. 

Sarah Emerson

Sarah Emerson is is a Staff Writer for Trinity News, and a Junior Sophister English Literature and Jewish and Islamic Civilizations Student.