This evening, Trinity College Dublin Student Union (TCDSU) Council discussed the withholding of funding from the Graduate Students Union (GSU) by the Capitations Committee.
The discussion item was brought to Council by László Molnárfí, who brought several motions and items to the meeting. He encouraged TCDSU to “look into” the funding issue because “we need the GSU” to represent postgraduate students.
Speaking on the issue of the withholding of funding, László commented that it was “Postgraduates money we’re talking about”.
Several speakers criticised this stance, with former chair of Council and Undergraduate Studies Committee representative Yannick Gloster commenting: “the GSU did not constitutively run their own elections.”
Gloster described the recent conduct of the postgraduate union as a “very blatant power grab when it comes to GSU power and the consolidation of power” [in the GSU]”.
Rian Errity agreed with Gloster, saying: “The GSU has proven themselves to be undemocratic.”
“The GSU should make a move to..put an end to the consolidation of power” before the funding is restored, Errity said.
“We would be delegitimizing ourselves by association.”
TCDSU Education Officer Bev Genockey commented on the “unresolved issues with the GSU” and said that TCDSU: “recognise[d] that postgraduate students need support and representation.”
“Students are our priority.”
Speaking to Trinity News ahead of the meeting, Molnárfí said: “It was reported in Trinity News that monies were withheld from the GSU.”
He said that he “checked with the GSU as to what that meant for postgraduate representation”.
He explained that “the President of GSU was deeply concerned with this as were some postgraduate students who I have spoken to. This is postgraduates’ money that we are talking about, which is essential for our community and GSU services.”
“I examined the composition of the Capitations Committee and found that it was mostly composed of professional staff of College who are on College’s payroll.”
He continued: “It is undemocratic that a union’s matters are being handled by people who are on College’s payroll.”
Molnárfí asked “how many votes does [TCDSU] have, and how many votes did [TCDSU] cast out of the total number of votes…and how did they vote?” and “why was there no stakeholder consultation done by the sabbatical team with the union members before the vote?”
The decision to withhold funds from the GSU was made by the outgoing Senior Dean in his role as the chair of the Capitations Committee. It was due to be confirmed by a vote of the committee, a vote that TCDSU would have participated in. However, the meeting at which that vote was due to be held was postponed after a constitutional crisis emerged at the GSU, with the union’s oversight body and executive leadership disagreeing on the tenure of the oversight body.
The Senior Dean made the decision after the GSU leadership failed to engage with an investigation by the GSU Board into its conduct. The leadership later claimed to have evidence that it did actually engage with that investigation, but has yet to publish that evidence.
Additional reporting by Jack Kennedy, Kate Henshaw, Bella Salerno and Sarah Emerson.