The Executive Committee of the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) was not consulted before the organisation made a public endorsement of President Gisèle Scanlon’s candidacy for the Seanad.
Trinity News contacted every member of the Executive (which is made up of all sabbatical and part-time officers of the union), including the president, vice-president and oversight officers, asking them what part of the GSU’s governing structure approved the endorsement, or if any consultation with members was conducted.
Only one officer responded, despite multiple follow-ups to several including the oversight officers. They said: “I have no idea whatsoever about any endorsement.”
They continued: “I believe individuals should vote for who they think deserve or earned the position of a Seanad [seat].”
The officer said they “will give my individual vote to one who earned it”.
The union’s social media accounts have shared Scanlon’s campaign materials repeatedly, as well as directly asking members to support her. Almost every tweet on the GSU Twitter account since the beginning of the Seanad campaign has been related to Scanlon’s candidacy.
Three other members of the GSU are running in the election alongside Scanlon.
A message to class representatives of the GSU also instructed them to share Scanlon’s fundraising page for her campaign.
The message, seen by Trinity News, also gave class reps a script to use when disseminating the link to classmates. It began: “We need your help to make sure our GSU President, Gisèle Scanlon, can be at the Seanad so students’ voices are heard.”
“As an independent candidate for the Seanad bye-election, Gisèle has to fund herself her campaign [sic], with the friends and strangers.”
The message went on to describe how Scanlon has been “a strong representative voice within Trinity College over the last five years”.
The union’s funding has been suspended for the past eight months due to the failure of Scanlon and Vice-President Abhisweta Bhattacharjee to comply with an internal investigation into their conduct last year.
The president and vice-president have not scheduled votes on their impeachment, almost a year after petitions calling for those votes reached the required number of signatures.