Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) sabbatical candidates faced questions this evening from Trinity Hall Junior Common Room (JCR), which represents the residents of the accommodation complex.
Tonight represents the final two hustings events candidates will face, with voting due to open this evening following Media Hustings. Voting will run until Thursday March 3, entirely online. Campaigning is due to continue while voting is underway.
The presidential candidates faced questions from the JCR President, Eva Craig, this evening. The candidates were questioned on what their efforts they would make to support the JCR given that there are “no wage subsidies” for the part-time officers. Fullam answered that there needed to be “direct communication” between them, with a “memorandum of agreement” about working hours. Fullam acknowledged that they are working on a “volunteer basis”. Kelly answered that the JCR is “made up of students”, and “wages are something we want to have a conversation about”. She continued: “I’m here for those conversations.”
Kelly was asked if her plan to introduce a practice union members addressing each other in Irish would result in a barrier for international students. Kelly answered that she doesn’t “like to see Irish as a barrier but rather as an invitation”. She added that the introduction of this would be about “normalising it and seeing it every day”.
Fullam was asked about how she plans to fund accommodation services in relation to anti-spiking policies outlined in her manifesto. Fullam said that there are “levels of College that are working on [anti-spiking]”, such as the welfare and equality and gender equality officers. She added: “We can subsidise, can also start looking at things that already exist like the equality fund so won’t be draining or moving funds.”
Sole education candidate Zöe Cummins was asked about how she would support students living in Halls, given “the additional pressures [they face] as they are living away from home.”
Cummins said that she did not specifically mention Halls in her manifesto as supporting students via casework “is so integral to the role.”
“I won’t bring anything new to the role, I’ll just continue to do the casework,” Cummins said. “I will help not just Halls students but everyone.”
She was then asked if her plans to reform the Foundation Scholarship would result in an increase in the number of students receiving scholarships. The JCR representative noted that Schols recipients live in Halls in their Junior Sophister year, and Halls is already oversubscribed.
Cummins said that “there’s a certain amount of Schols that College can afford, so there is a maximum.”
“My plan to make it more accessible is about making sure that those with disabilities or those who are working part time aren’t at a disadvantage” in seeking a scholarship, Cummins added.
Welfare & Equality
Welfare & Equality candidates Cúnla Morris and Chloe Staunton faced questions from the JCR Welfare Officer.Both candidates were asked their opinion of the current dignity and respect policy, and what they would do to change it. Morris answered that there is “still a lot to be worked on especially when it comes to sexual assualt on campus”. They added that this is “something we really need to work on and zone in on”. Staunton answered that there is a “lack in terms of sexual assault with the national framework that has been implemented”. She continued that this is “something we need a lot of student involvement in”.
Morris was then asked specifically about why their manifesto lacked any references to Halls students. Morris said that they “didn’t get to meet with any Halls students during this campaign”, and they would plan on “reaching out with the JCR services”, and “reaching out” to the JCR Welfare Officer.
Staunton was asked about her mention of training for part time officers in Halls. She said that the “training idea came from work with s2s”, which “used to have peer support and they used to do intensive training during the summer”.
Comms & Marketing
Sole communications & marketing candidate Julie Smirnova was asked about promoting society events through TCDSU social media, and whether she believed this was appropriate. Smirnova replied that she’d “love to collaborate with societies” and noted her own involvement with societies. She also said that more collaboration via Ents would be positive.
Smirnova was also asked about her campaign promise to “build community”, and how that might be extended to involve Halls students and those living in private accommodation as much as possible. The current citizenship officer said that she “would love to work with the JCR to bring societies into Halls”, and that making contact with first year students in Halls “is a really integral part of communications and trying to get the word out there.”
Only two of the three Ents candidates, Max Lynch and Ross Donnelly, were physically present at tonight’s Halls and Media Hustings with the third candidate Nadia joining the event via video call.
Asked by the JCR’s Ents Officer how they would improve the relationship between TCDSU and JCR, Donnlley said that he would hold “proper office hours… and establish a proper Ents network”, and promised to learn from experiences of the past. Lynch said that he would respect the “autonomy” of the JCR Ents, and Nadia that she would work closely with the JCR and communicate with them.
The JCR Ents officer asked Nadia why given that her manifesto discussed buses to and from halls for events she hasn’t reached out to the JCR to discuss this plan. The candidate discussed how ticketing for these buses might work, such as being included in the price of event tickets.
Donnelley was asked to expand upon his plan for an “Ents network” and he said that it was important to support events from outside of Ents by providing training and ensuring good representation.
The JCR Ents officer was asked about DUDJ events that he had organised being too “techno heavy” in their music selection. Lynch said that he hadn’t heard these complaints before but said he would “listen to students” to find out what they want.
Sole candidate for University Times (UT) editor Mairead Maguire was asked about her plans to promote the Irish language further within the paper. She said that she “would love to collaborate with Cumman Gaelach and the Scéim Cónaithe”, the latter of which is an Irish-language housing scheme based in Halls.
“People don’t always know how to get involved,” Maguire continued. “You don’t need to be fluent in Irish to get involved [with UT’s Irish-language coverage].”
The incumbent deputy editor was then asked about her strategy for reducing the influence of bias in the paper’s reporting. Maguire said that “it’s really important to know that every article goes through at least two people, sometimes more than that. That really helps to remove bias.”
“We are imperfect at times, I won’t deny that, but I think we generally do a pretty high standard of journalism and I plan to continue that if elected,” Maguire concluded.
Halls Hustings began at 6pm this evening, with Media Hustings taking place after. The latter event was postponed from last Thursday.
Reporting by Jack Kennedy, Finn Purdy, Shannon Connolly, Grace Gageby, Maggie Larson, Isobel Salerno, David Wolfe, Ella Sloane, Eva O’Beirne and Caroline Higgins.