One of three candidates campaigning to become the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union’s (TCDSU) next Entertainments (Ents) Officer, Junior Sophister computer science student and former class representative Nadia believes that her strong personal experience in event management and connections within the music industry gives her an edge over her competitors.
Responsible for managing and facilitating a range of college social events from Freshers’ and Rag week to the notorious Trinity Ball, the role of ents officer has been particularly impacted in recent years by Covid-19 restrictions. With restrictions now mostly eased and a strong vaccination campaign underway, students are now looking forward to a more traditional social experience in the 2022/23 academic year.
Speaking with Trinity News, Nadia stresses her uniqueness in this year’s campaign for Ents Officer. “I’m a female, a female of colour and I’m not rich”. A former class representative for computer science who has previously helped to organise STEM Ball and has experience working with events promoter Bodytonic at the Bernard Shaw, she believes that “in previous years, there’s been a huge lack of diversity when it comes to the role” and intends to be a “beacon of change”.
She touts inclusivity, accessibility, and safety as the cornerstones of her campaign. In a year that has seen increasingly common accounts of spiking both in Ireland and abroad, Nadia wants to see more female bouncers at her events. She intends to make first aid and bystander training available to all students. “If you come to one of my events, you’ll feel fully safe and if you do even slightly feel uncomfortable, there will be someone there; someone that will listen to you, know what to do, and take charge”.
As part of her drive for greater safety at Ents events, Nadia envisages “an option where you have a year’s bus pass back from events”. This could be funded through donations at the biweekly Sunday Fashion Boot Sales she would organise as ents officer, but she adds that “I would need to discuss this with the JCR”. She would not like to see such buses cost more than “the cost of a bus ticket”.
Nadia explains that she is wasting no time preparing for the role – “for the Boots sale, I would contact Green Soc and Fashion Soc – I’m already talking to Fashion Soc”.
She also wants to see the introduction of safe drug testing at college events. “I’ve seen on so many nights out people taking the wrong drug and it’s laced”. “You can’t just say don’t do drugs because they’re not going to listen”.
Equally important for her campaign is accessibility. When asked about the steps she would take to make Ents events more inclusive, she responds that she would introduce “free earplugs for people who are sensitive to hearing” and believes that these could be acquired cheaply and sold at the Student Union.
Commenting that it is important that Ents events are accessible to all, Nadia adds that the choice of venues this year left a lot to be desired. “A lot of the Ents events this year have just been in Tramline and Tramline has no lifts; it has stairs”. She adds that there are “so many venues in Dublin” that could offer accessibility to all and she believes that her experience and contacts in the industry would allow her to bring knowledge of these venues to the role.
“In previous years, there’s been a huge lack of diversity when it comes to the role”
Cultural events stressing the global nature of Trinity would also be a key part of her ents tenure. This year, College was ranked as the 12th most international university in the world by Times Higher Education, and Nadia believes that more should be done to celebrate the different cultures that call Trinity home.
She wants to see an emphasis on celebrations like Holi, Eid and St. Patrick’s Day, and envisages working with all cultural societies for this. “I want to break those barriers and bring people together”.
When it comes to Freshers’ Week, Nadia sees a lot to learn from that organised last year by incumbent Ents Officer Greg Arrowsmith. “What he did for Freshers’ Week was really good; he did put a lot of effort and a lot of thought into it. The massive screenings were so good. He did achieve a lot. The marquees were so good; I loved that idea. I could definitely bring that back”.
A key feature of Arrowsmith’s campaign last year, Nadia believes that even more can be done to make Ents more inclusive for those who don’t drink. “I respect the fact that not everyone drinks”. She envisages organising film screenings and a “concert day, like a little mini festival” for Freshers’ Week.
Among the other events she envisages organising if elected are a Christmas Day involving a “Christmas Carol rock concert” with mulled wine and mince pies, a petting zoo close to examinations and a charity drag race that could involve the heads of College’s sports clubs and professors.
There has been some debate in past years as to the political role of the SU and Ents in particular – in the run-up to the Marriage Referendum in 2015, Ents played a role in organising “Rock the Vote” events supporting a Yes vote.
Nadia emphasises that “when it comes to sustainability and human rights, I do have a quite a strong stance” and wants to see the SU engage more with international issues such as the Palestinian struggle and the crisis in Syria.
She also comments on her understanding of the cost of living in Dublin. “I am on SUSI, I support myself fully financially and I am very aware of pricing”. “I rent myself, I know the struggles, I know how horrible it is to find a place”.
Unsurprisingly, the return of Trinity Ball to the college calendar also comes up. In recent years, both Arrowsmith and former provostial candidate Jane Ohlmeyer included the prospect of two Trinity Balls in the same year in their campaigns. Nadia emphasises instead that Trinity Ball is in need of renewal.
Calling on her personal experience of College’s huge, end-of-year and open-air event, Nadia contrasts herself with the other two candidates running for the role – “I’m the only one that’s actually been to T-Ball”. She believes that the introduction of more tents, blankets and better access to water would make Trinity Ball significantly more enjoyable for students.
“Access to water was appalling the last time, absolutely appalling – it was like €3 for a bottle of water”. She adds that the event should remain plastic-free and believes that given the high cost of Trinity Ball tickets, “there’s no way that money can’t go towards a euro bottle of water”.
Referring to herself as the “underdog” in this year’s race, it’s clear that Nadia intends to call on her experience in the events management industry and her passion for music to argue her case.
When asked what to expect from her campaign, Nadia assures that she has “a lot of plans” and adds that “I do want to keep it a bit of a surprise”. Undoubtedly, she plans on making an impression in the hustings ahead.
Concluding her interview with Trinity News, she strikes a confident note and emphasises that “I have such a strong team”. “With Ents, there are so many opportunities. There are so many things you can do; it makes me really excited”.
“Obviously you need permission to do a lot of things, but I’m pretty convincing”.
Campaigning for sabbatical officer elections will continue until March 3. Voting will run from March 1 to 3. Students have until noon on March 1 to register to vote.
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