Trinity’s Post Graduate Workers Alliance (PGWA) has endorsed John Tighe for president of the Graduates Students Union (GSU).
Tighe is currently running for the position against incumbent president Gisèle Scanlon. If elected, this would be Scanlon’s second term as president. TCD PGWA, previously known as TCD PhD Workers’ Rights Group, is part of Postgraduate Workers Alliance Ireland.
In a press release this evening the PGWA said that the GSU is currently “in an existential crisis” and if Scanlon were to serve another term, it “could have devastating consequences for both TCD postgraduates and the union”. The group also said that Tighe “has committed to upholding the mandate of the PGWA” in the GSU and that he “supports the national campaign for postgraduate workers’ rights”.
They also believe that Tighe will work with the PGWA “in furthering the cause both on campus and nationally” and he “will represent postgraduates fairly and properly”.
“After a chaotic year under poor leadership, the GSU is in dire need of a president that cares about postgraduates”.
Also running in the GSU sabbatical elections is incumbent Vice-President Abhisweta Bhattacharjee. Unlike Scanlon, Bhattacharjee is running uncontested.
After a controversial EGM in April, two separate petitions were launched calling for votes of no confidence in Scanlon and Bhattacharjee. This was due to the “lack of proper proceedings” at the meeting, 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”.
At and following the meeting, members expressed concerns over the voting process. Some students were initially unable to enter the meeting, and some were later not able to participate in voting. One of the votes on a proposed new constitution for the union was passed by a margin of just two percentage points, despite the existing constitution requiring a two-thirds majority for any amendments, removals or additions.
Bhattacharjee expressed a desire to continue the meeting without the approximately 240 students who could not at first gain access, and later threatened to remove members from the call when they requested via handwritten notes that the chat function be enabled.
The vote on the union’s 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 that it had not.
The PGWA supported both no-confidence petitions, calling on postgraduates to sign them.
The GSU election campaign begins tomorrow with hustings scheduled at 5:30pm. Postgraduates are being invited to submit questions to the election oversight commission via email until 3:30pm.
Voting is due to take place from Wednesday June 9 to Friday June 11, with results announced on June 12 at midday.