Petition to hold referendum on TCDSU’s apolitical status reaches required signatures

The petition called for the union to achieves it aims “in a radical, egalitarian and autonomous way”

A petition to change section 1.4 of the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) constitution and political mandate has reached the necessary signatures to secure a College-wide referendum.

The petition called for the union’s constitutional mandate to achieve its aims “independent of any political, racial, or religious ideology” to be changed to: “The Union shall pursue these objectives in a radical, egalitarian and autonomous way, and shall not affiliate with far-right groups, including, but not limited to, white supremacists and Christian extremists.”

Opening to students on November 27, the petition has since earned at least 520 signatures, according to organisers. 

The signatures will now be verified by the Electoral Commission (EC). Once it is confirmed each signer is a College student, a referendum will be officially called. 

The referendum must take place no earlier than two teaching weeks and no later than five

teaching weeks after it is called.

Organisers said changing the constitution will allow “the union to take a greater number of political stances, such as having no-confidence in the government, while protecting the BDS mandate and banning affiliation with the far-right”.

The petition was launched after a motion at Council calling for a similar constitutional amendment failing to pass.

The motion failed to pass on November 21 with 65% (56) of class representatives and part-time officers voting in favour. Constitutional changes require a supermajority of 66.6% of Council votes.

In the petition, the amendment was updated to include a ban on any affiliations with the far-right.

“We note the addition of a clause which bans the union from affiliating with far-right groups, which we believe is necessary to safeguard student welfare and to take a stand against hate in light of recent events,” organisers said.

“Radicalism is the belief that there should be great social change. To be a student and a student union is to be radical. It is necessary to be radical, because standing up for student interests opposes senior management and the government.”

“With egalitarian, we mean that in today’s society, those of us who are the most vulnerable are treated with the greatest disrespect. A student union should always defend the interests of the most vulnerable and marginalised amongst us,” they concluded.

School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies (SLLCS) Convenor Nicholas Evans, who proposed the original motion at Council, said the petition shows “unimpeachable evidence that we were right about the type of Union the students want, a Union with the mandate to radically fight for our rights and welfare”.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who signed the petition for believing in democracy and trying to improve our Union. I’m looking forward to the campaign season.”

The EC wrote in a statement to Trinity News “The Electoral Commission has acknowledged receipt of a petition which seeks to amend Chapter 1.4 of the Constitution of TCDSU.”

“Once the veracity of the signatures has been confirmed, the Electoral Commission shall call a referendum in accordance with the relevant constitutional provisions. This notice shall include the relevant dates and timeline for the referendum.”