Gisèle Scanlon has been declared re-elected as the president of the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU), winning 54.2% of the vote according to the union’s Electoral Commission (EC). Abhisweta Bhattacharjee was re-elected as Vice-President with 68.8% of votes.
Scanlon, the union’s current president, ran against John Tighe. Tighe served as Research Officer of the GSU from 2016 to 2017, and was appointed as Oversight Officer in 2017. He was also the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission in 2017/18, and 2019/20.
Tighe received 41.7% of the vote. 4.1% voted to re-open nominations in the presidential race. There were 709 votes cast in total. A company specialising in running online votes, Mi-Voice, facilitated the voting process. This is the second year in a row the vote has taken place online due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Results were due to be released at 12pm but were delayed for almost three hours in what Tighe called a “serious irregularity”.
Speaking to Trinity News after the announcement, Tighe said: “I would like once again to thank all those who supported me and voted for me, your trust in me means the world to me.”
“I wish the incumbents luck in their roles next year, and with a new Provost and [Postgraduate] Renewal, they will have an opportunity to put [postgraduates] at the centre of decisions about [postgraduates].”
Scanlon has previously served as Vice-President of the GSU in 2019/20, and before that as the union’s Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) faculty convenor, and holds two masters degrees from Trinity. Trinity News sought to arrange an interview with Scanlon during the course of the campaign, but received no response.
Bhattacharjee is an MSc student of Applied Psychology and was running unopposed. Speaking to Trinity News earlier this week, she said she envisioned a “good year” for postgraduate students.
The pair attracted controversy this year following an EGM of the union in April, which resulted in the circulation of petitions calling for votes of no confidence in both Scanlon and Bhattacharjee.
At election hustings earlier this month, when Scanlon was questioned on why she had not held the mandatory EGM to vote on her impeachment despite the necessary 60 signatures being gathered, Scanlon claimed this was not possible due to an ongoing Board investigation into the April meeting.
However, when contacted by Trinity News, the Board confirmed that they had not advised Scanlon that an impeachment vote could not be held. The status of these votes in light of the election result is not yet clear.
Trinity’s Postgraduate Workers Alliance (TCD PGWA), which previously endorsed Tighe, said in a statement that it “conditionally accepts” the results of the vote. It laid out three conditions for full acceptance: that the EC release the initial email it received from Mi-Voice with the results of the vote; that the EC provide evidence that everyone who voted were verified GSU members; and that Scanlon hold an EGM to facilitate the vote of no confidence in her.
The PGWA concluded by saying it would “continue to work with the TCD-GSU and ensure our democratic mandate is upheld.” The union is mandated to support the group’s campaign efforts.
The GSU has two paid sabbatical positions (President and Vice-President) who sit on the union’s Executive committee.
The GSU is one of College’s five capitated bodies, the others being Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU), the Central Societies Committee (CSC), Dublin University Central Athletics Club (DUCAC) and Trinity Publications.
Voting ran from Wednesday until yesterday at 11:59pm.
This article was updated at 4:15pm to reflect the release of a statement by TCD PGWA, and at 4:30pm to add commentary from John Tighe.
Additional reporting by Jack Kennedy.