Three candidates contest GSU sabbatical elections, including both incumbents

Giséle Scanlon is to run again for the position of President against John Tighe, while incumbent Abhisweta Bhattacharjee will run uncontested for the Vice Presidency

Graduates Student Union (GSU) President Giséle Scanlon and Vice President Abhisweta Bhattacharjee are to run for re-election, with former GSU executive member John Tighe also contesting the presidency.

GSU elections are due to take place entirely online for the second year in a row due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Having worked as the union’s Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) Officer, Scanlon was elected to the role of President uncontested last year, and Vice President the year before, also uncontested. She holds two master’s degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing. She is currently working towards a third masters in Art History.

John Tighe received an MPhil in Medieval History in 2014 and is currently working towards a PhD. He is a former member of the GSU’s Executive, and helped to facilitate the union’s elections last year.

Incumbent Vice President Abhisweta Bhattacharjee will likewise rerun for her current position, uncontested this year. Bhattacharjee received an undergraduate degree in Psychology and is currently working towards a masters in Applied Psychology.

Nominations for these sabbatical positions closed on May 31, with voting scheduled to take place from June 9 to June 11.

The elections follow controversy surrounding Scanlon and Bhattacharjee, concerning issues over voting which took place at this year’s GSU Executive General Meeting (EGM). The event led to some members expressing frustration at accessibility difficulties at the zoom held meeting, including an inability to vote on certain motions. This was then followed by petitions being made to call a vote of no confidence on both the President and Vice President of the Union.

Petitions calling for votes of no confidence in both Scanlon and Bhattacharjee were circulated in April after issues arose during an extraordinary general meeting of the union. The meeting was initially pushed back by two weeks after concerns were raised about the constitutionality of its timing. Students at the meeting then complained of not being able to participate in voting and one of the votes, on whether the union should divest from its association with Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU), had to be rerun. After passing on the first vote, the motion was defeated the second time.

In a statement announcing the list of candidates, the GSU electoral commission said that “to serve the postgraduates for the coming year where COVID will still be a factor takes great courage.”

“We look forward to positive campaigns where many important postgraduate issues will be discussed, and we hope that candidates and the postgraduate community will enjoy it.”

Campaigning for the election will begin this Friday on June 4, with hustings to be held on the same day. Voting will begin Wednesday June 9, and run until 11:59 PM on Friday June 11. Online voting will be facilitated by the company Mi-Voice, who also helped to run last year’s GSU elections.

Results for the election will be announced the following day at midday. Campaigning verification will continue from today into tomorrow and will end when campaign material is approved. Candidates were briefed yesterday at 2:30 PM.

The position of President and Vice President are currently the only two paid sabbatical positions within the GSU, though the union aims to add a third such position, to represent PhD students specifically, for the 2022/23 academic year. Provost-elect Linda Doyle has reportedly promised to allocate funding to the body to facilitate the additional officership.

Jamie Cox

Jamie Cox is the Higher Education Correspondent for Trinity News, and a Senior Fresh Ancient and Medieval History and Culture student.