TCDSU to maintain policy of support for PWO following heated council debate

TCDSU remains obligated to support the PWO campaigns and collaborate with it in campaigns relevant to both TCDSU and the PWO

A motion to withdraw Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) mandated support of the Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation (PWO) has failed to pass at council following a heated debate.

TCDSU remains obligated to support the PWO campaigns and collaborate with it in campaigns relevant to both TCDSU and the PWO.

As the motion involved a change to Schedule 4, it was required to pass by a two-thirds majority, which it failed to do so.

The motion was proposed by TCDSU Education Officer Catherine Arnold and seconded by Welfare & Equality Officer Aoife Bennett, Communications & Marketing Officer Aiesha Wong and Ents Officer Olivia Orr, as well as all TCDSU Part Time Officers (PTOs) with the exception of the Gender Equality Officer.

The motion said it was concerned about TCDSU’s mandated support of the PWO after “identifiable PWO members have allegedly harassed other union members during the vote of several postgraduate committees after issues arose regarding said election’s integrity caused by their own alleged breach of election regulations”.

“This was escalated with several statements being released on the PWO’s behalf to such an extent that the PWO has denied all claims of harassment,” the motion said.

In a statement published earlier today, the union said these allegations of harassment by PWO members are “currently being brought to the Junior Dean”.

Several members of council and non-members spoke both in favour and against the motion.

Speaking in favour of the motion, Arnold said the motion is “fundamentally motivated by allegations of harassment of volunteers at voting booths for postgraduate elections”.

“We do not want to have volunteers, as everybody here is, being harassed, allegedly harassed, on the basis of just doing their job,” she said.

Speaking against the motion, PWO President Conor Reddy said the foundation of any union is “solidarity”.

“We had a very good working relationship with the students union last year,” he said.

“There was an alleged incident that we completely disagree with,” he said.

“There is a Junior Dean investigation and we’ve gladly participated.”

Citizenship Officer Ella MacLennan said she is one of the alleged victims of harassment by the PWO and said the union does not have a problem with the PWO.

“We shouldn’t be constitutionally obligated to work with an organisation that takes victim blaming publically,” she said.

“This is a safeguarding issue.”

TCDSU President László Molnárfi described the motion as “shameful”.

“This motion, if passed, will reverberate throughout the entire country,” he said.

“This drives a wedge between postgraduates and undergraduates… it flies in the face of everything we stand for.”

Ahead of council TCD PWO said it was “incredibly disappointing” to see the motion proposed at council.

“The goals of the PWO remain the same today as they were when the mandate was first adapted,” it said.

“The recent actions by the EC during the council elections have been both confusing and alarming.

“To pull an election and misinform the affected parties as to the initial reason was an act of bad faith, but to further push unsubstantiated and unproven claims of harassment by PWO members is deeply concerning.”

Ahead of council, the union issued a statement saying “postgraduate student representation will remain the same as it previously has been, and they will continue to avail of the services provided by TCDSU.”

“The motion passing does not mean cutting all ties with the PWO, and the SU has met with PWO members previously, where we affirmed our willingness to work alongside them,” the statement said.

Additional reporting by Kate Henshaw, David Wolfe, Aidan Cusack, Evan Skidmore O’Reilly, Charlotte Kent, Aoibhínn Clancy, Emily Sheehan and Maddy Pitman.

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