TCDSU reaffirms commitment to stand for “all students” amid GSU constitutional crisis

Chair of the GSU Board Dr John Walsh has described the situation as “farcical” after GSU President Gisele Scanlon ordered the board to resign last night

Trinity College Dublin Students Union (TCDSU) has reaffirmed its commitment to stand for all students. 

This comes amid an ongoing constitutional crisis within the Graduates Students Union (GSU). 

Speaking to Trinity News, TCDSU Education Officer Bev Genockey said that the union “has a constitutional obligation to represent the interests of…all students in Trinity College Dublin, both undergraduate and postgraduate”.

Genockey continued: “Regardless of the outcomes of the GSU’s engagement with their board and the Capitation Committee, TCDSU will  continue to endeavour to represent all students.”

In a statement to Trinity News this evening, member of the GSU board Dr John Walsh confirmed that the board “received an email from the GSU President last night claiming that [their] term of office had concluded and thanked members for their service”. 

Walsh labeled the timing of the email “bizarre” as “it came just before a Capitation Committee meeting which had been convened following the report of the Board in July regarding complaints made by GSU members”.

“Members of the Board cannot be removed nor can a new Board be constituted simply by a decision from the President – appointments to the Board have to be approved by a General Meeting under the GSU Constitution” Walsh stated. 

Walsh described the move as a “transparent attempt to undermine the report completed by the Board within its term of office” which found “a lack of adequate engagement and co-operation by the GSU leadership with the Board’s enquiry.”

He continued: “The current situation is simply farcical, as the GSU seeks to replace an oversight body because the Board attempted to carry out oversight of the GSU.” 

The previous Senior Dean made the decision to withhold GSU funding “pending formal ratification of the decision at a meeting of the Capitation Committee to be held as soon as possible following the appointment by [the College] Board of the new Senior Dean”.

On September 1, Professor Eoin O Sullivan was announced as the new Senior Dean.

When contacted by Trinity News, the senior dean declined to comment on the issue.

In August it was announced that funding from the Capitations Committee for the GSU would continue to be withheld, following a meeting of the outgoing and incoming Senior Deans.

An email to the committee from the office of the previous Senior Dean said: “In this instance, it remains clear that the GSU Board in their written decision did not consider the Graduate Students’ Union to have engaged adequately with their processes. That the GSU contests this is a matter between the GSU and the GSU Board.”

The email went on to confirm that the Senior Dean’s decision, as chair of the committee, to withhold the remainder of the union’s 2020/21 funding, would stand, “pending formal ratification of the decision at a meeting of the Capitation Committee to be held as soon as possible following the appointment by [the College] Board of the new Senior Dean”.

The previous Dean made the decision on July 22 following a report from the GSU Board which said that the union’s sabbatical team did not comply with the board’s investigation into a controversial EGM held in April. 

At the time, the sabbatical team claimed that the report was “misleading” and “unfounded”. 

Scanlon and vice-president Abhisweta Bhattacharjee assembled a number of screenshots of the headers of emails between them and the board, but with the contents cropped out, to attempt to prove this claim.

In response, the board said that “claims of vindication based on a list of emails lack credibility” and “if these emails are being used to call into question the Board’s report, the content of these emails should be made available by the GSU to the Capitation Committee”. 

The full emails have yet to be released.

Kate Henshaw

Kate Henshaw is current Editor-in-Chief of Trinity News, and a graduate of Sociology and Social Policy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.

Jack Kennedy

Jack Kennedy is the Editor-in-chief of the 68th edition of Trinity News. He is a Computer & Electronic Engineering graduate, and a former Assistant Editor, Online Editor, and Deputy Online Editor.