CSC and Trinity Publications chairs propose unprecedented merger

If the proposal is approved by both the CSC and Trinity Publications, the two capitated bodies will form a joint constitution under the new name Trinity College Dublin Societies & Publications (TSP)

The Chair of the Central Societies’ Committee (CSC) and the Chair of Trinity Publications have this evening announced proposed plans to merge the capitated bodies.

In a press release to Trinity News this evening, Chair of the CSC Tom Hegarty and Chair of Trinity Publications Jack Smyth announced plans to merge the bodies. The CSC is currently responsible for the funding of approved College societies, while Trinity Publications oversees the funding of 7 publications across campus, including Trinity News, along with annual associate publications.

The plans to merge will be put forward as a motion to both members of Trinity Publications and the CSC, which proposes to form a “joined working group with the goal of combining both constitutions and jointly proposing the newly formed Trinity College Dublin Societies & Publications (TSP)”. 

In their press release this evening, Hegarty and Smyth said: “Today, the CSC and Trinity Publications announce plans for a mutually beneficial merger to create TCD Societies & Publications (TSP), a single capitated body incorporating both pre-existing entities.” 

The press claimed that among the “benefits” of the merger would be a stipend for the Chair of Publications, who would become an “Officer of the TSP”.

Earlier this year, the CSC voted to provide a stipend of €200 a week to its three officer positions, chair, secretary, and treasurer.

The press release also outlined that the “ring-fenced finances” of Trinity Publications “will be in the hands of trained CSC staff”.

The press release claimed that the “journalistic and media freedoms of Publications will be retained under the TSP”, a freedom that is already held by publications under current arrangements.

Members of the Trinity Publications Committee, the editors of six of the publications funded by Trinity Publications, were not consulted on the merger prior to this evening, when the press release was due to go live. The Editor of Trinity News was the only editor made aware of the proposal prior to the press release. 

Executive members of the Trinity Publications committee were officially informed of the proposal by email yesterday afternoon. This includes the Treasurer, Alumni Officer, Public Relations Officer and Amenities Officer.

The press release stated that Trinity Publications has been “plagued by a myriad of difficulties for a number of years”. 

They continued: “This is largely due to Publications being the only capitated body on campus that is run entirely by students on a voluntary basis. While this independence can be liberating for student media, it is too much work to ask of full-time students.” 

“We are of the opinion that Trinity Publications has a duty to protect its legacy and for this reason we propose this merger,” Hegarty and Smyth said. Trinity News understands that only Executive Officers of Trinity Publications were informed of the proposed merger, and that editors of the funded publications were not consulted about the merger prior to the press release. 

According to Hegarty and Smyth, the CSC has “consistently been a stable institution”: “With three staff members alongside its paid student officers, it has been able to effectively fund, support, and advocate for student society life.”

“Our role in the merger is one which looks to strengthen student life on campus. With student societies and publications already so intrinsically linked, we are open to supporting Publications financially and administratively through this merger.”

Speaking to Trinity News regarding the press release this evening, Trinity Publications’ Public Relations Officer (PRO) Ella Sloane said: “Upon enquiring further today about the press release Trinity Exec were told (yesterday) to expect to be released soon and requesting details of when this would happen, Jack shared it with me this afternoon.” 

Sloane confirmed that as PRO, she was informed of the joint statement being released this evening, “as of a few hours ago”. 

If the motion is passed by both the CSC and Trinity Publications, a subcommittee will be formed to write a joint constitution for the new body. 

In an email to their editors this evening, the Chair of Trinity Publications claimed that the merger would provide benefits to the publications, including “increased publication funding, aid with accounts and audits from professional full-time Trinity staff [and] access to a multitude of new equipment”. 

Smyth also said that this merger would guarantee “retention of journalistic standards, retention of the Trinity Publications Executive and Committee “unimpeded” [and] increased grant funding”. He noted that the merger would provide a paid position for the incoming Chair of Publications for the 2023/24 academic year, and a sabbatical position for the head of the TSP. Any student can be elected head of the TSP. 

The Trinity Publications Committee is one of Trinity’s designated capitated bodies alongside Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU), the Central Societies Committee (CSC) and the Sports Union. They receive funding from College to support student-run publications across campus, including Trinity News, Icarus, TN2 Magazine and The Piranha.

Trinity News has contacted the editors of all Trinity Publications affiliates for comment.

Additional reporting by Shannon Connolly and David Wolfe.

Ellen Kenny

Ellen Kenny is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News and a Senior Sophister student of Politics and Sociology. She previously served as Assistant Editor and Features Editor