Dublin University Central Athletic Club (DUCAC) has proposed the creation of a full-time sabbatical position for a student chair of the organisation, which acts as the governing body for sport clubs at Trinity.
DUCAC, referring to itself as Trinity Sports Union, brought the proposal to the Capitation Committee this morning, where it was discussed by representatives from College and Trinity’s capitated bodies.
The proposal would make DUCAC the third capitated body with a paid sabbatical officer, as well as Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) and the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU).
The proposal document, entitled Trinity Sports Union Sabbatical Proposal, outlines the purpose, responsibilities, and cost of the proposed sabbatical role. It explained: “A full time student Chair will help to revive student engagement and leadership in sport, and develop sports in the college as a whole.”
“At the moment, the current structure means that students must take on the position part-time alongside their studies, which massively hinders the potential for the Sports Union to develop and help sporting students in the college,” the proposal continued.
The proposal was reportedly opposed strongly by the Central Societies Committee (CSC), who argued that the role of a chair is administrative, including chairing meetings and setting agendas, and not representative.
The document estimates that the cost of the proposal would be a €16,900 salary for the chair of the Sports Union, and €13,396 for a year of accommodation which it proposes be provided by College on campus, a total cost of €30,296.
DUCAC is funded by the Capitation Committee through the student contribution charge, as well as receiving club subscriptions. The organisation is also partially funded by a percentage of revenue from the Pavilion Bar.
According to the proposal document, the responsibilities of the sabbatical chair will be to advocate for and support all sporting students, to encourage student engagement and leadership in sport, and to act as student voice for sport. The governance, management and oversight of the financial planning of DUCAC will also be the responsibility of the student chair, as well as providing representation “at local, national, and international levels.” The chair will act as Head of Sports Union Executive committee, and oversee functions such as club funding and “potential developments of the Pavilion Bar”.
The prospective benefits outlined in the proposal include more time for the chair to liaise with college staff, such as the Provost, as well as the ability to provide “experience in administration, leadership, logistical planning, finances and accounts” to students who serve in the role.
Speaking to Trinity News, outgoing chair of DUCAC Matthew Simons said: “The sabbatical role proposal is something I feel is extremely important.”
He continued: “As per our constitutional changes adopted last summer, the sports union chair will always be a student position. The scope of the role is so vast that in order to be fully effective the student elected should be able to dedicate a whole year to the Sports Union.”
Highlighting some of the challenges the organisation faces, Simons added: “Sports in Trinity is massively under-represented, having some of the lowest rankings in terms of outdoor sporting facilities and investment from the college in the whole country. Having the support for a student to take on the role full time would reap massive rewards for sports around the college and continue to push the sports union towards being an effective student led and student oriented organisation.”
At the moment, only TCDSU and the GSU have full-time paid sabbatical positions, having five and two sabbatical officers respectively. Trinity Publications allocates funding for on-campus accommodation for the editor-in-chief of Trinity News. The editor is not paid a salary, but they may opt to take a stipend in lieu of taking up accommodation.
The Capitation Committee is the college body which oversees Trinity’s five capitated bodies: DUCAC, TCDSU, GSU, the Central Societies Committee and Trinity Publications. It is made up of representatives from each capitated body, as well as the Dean of Students, currently Dr Catherine McCabe.
This article was updated on May 27 to include comment from Matthew Simons.