Communications & Marketing race: Sarah Murnane wants to “Make the SU Craic Again.”

The fourth-year History and Politics student envisions a more “relevant”, community-centric, and transparent Union

Sarah Murnane is a Senior Sophister History and Politics student making a bid for this year’s Comms & Marketing race. In an unprecedented election year, Murnane is one of three candidates vying to become the Comms & Marketing Sabbat Officer, a historically uncontested position. 

Speaking to Trinity News on why she decided to run, Murnane shared that she was greatly influenced by former Comms & Marketing Officer Julie Smirnova. 

“Seeing people like Julie and what they have done for Comms & Marketing and the way they approached it, I was like ‘Oh I’d love to do that job,“ she said. “I’d really love to contribute the same kind of energy [Julie] did for the Union.”

Reflecting on her personal experiences in College, Murnane detailed that TCDSU is due for a rebrand. Having previously served as Class Rep and currently on the TCDSU Campaigns Committee, Murnane feels she has first-hand insight into the inner workings of the Union; notably in regards to its shortcomings. 

“I think a lot of what the SU does is a bit smoke and mirrors … in terms of relevancy, if no one knows what’s happening, how is anyone supposed to get involved,” she said. Throughout the interview, Murnane frequently mentioned that she believes most students are unaware of how TCDSU operates and what truly transpires in House 6, a matter that she desperately wants to tackle. 

She argues that the principal problem of the SU, specifically that of Comms & Marketing, is engagement. She explains that the overall structure of the Union is not an issue, but rather its lack of initiative with community building within College is. 

Her solution to this: “Make the SU Craic Again.” A play-on-words of former United States President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” tagline and a phrase she consistently repeated throughout this interview. 

To draw in greater student engagement and “make TCDSU as accessible, relevant, active, and helpful as possible for students,” Murnane plans to make the Union “fun.”

While laughing, she said that she wants to be “as funny as I possibly can without people thinking that I’m a joke candidate.” Although she refused to detail exactly what she plans to do, she stated that if elected, she has tricks up her sleeve. 

With a campaign slogan of “You Want to Make Her Comm,” it is safe to say that Murnane is certainly focused on making humour a core part of TCDSU’s agenda. 

Aside from this, much of her campaign ideas deal with creating Third Spaces and hosting events geared toward students unaffiliated with the SU. 

When asked whether these plans cross into the territory of the EntsOfficer, she said: “Ents events are separate to the Union … You need SU-centric community building, events, and outreach. There seems to be no active outreach from the Union to students to get them involved … you have to pull them in somehow, and that’s what I’m after.”

Murnane intends to bring back “Know Your SU” sessions, host coffee hours, and create TCDSU volunteering opportunities for students. 

In terms of promoting TCDSU and student outreach through multimedia content, she states that social media is being “dreadfully underused right now” which she finds “shocking.”

“Having only two avenues of communication (weekly email and occasional Instagram posts) is not enough for an organisation as big as the SU that needs to reach as many students as possible,” she remarked. 

Murnane claims she will “take full advantage” of the SU’s social media presence, focusing on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, and “posting new content, short-form and long-form, on a daily basis.”

Presently, as Murnane puts it, TCDSU prioritises detailed graphics and posts which limits the amount of content they are able to produce”

Presently, as Murnane puts it, TCDSU prioritises detailed graphics and posts which limits the amount of content they are able to produce. She, on the other hand, views daily posting as the ideal approach to maintaining consistent student engagement.  

When questioned whether it is better to post rapid content every day or to produce content with more reflection and purpose, Murnane shared that the way forward is “organisation, prioritisation, and balance.”

She feels that rapid posting will not decrease the quality of her content in any way: “Some content needs to be more thought out and other things don’t take that much time.”

Indisputably, Murnane was most excited to discuss her plan to launch a TCDSU podcast, which she describes as having a “Chicken Shop Date vibe for the SU.” 

Chicken Shop Date is a popular YouTube series created by Amelia Dimoldenberg wherein she invites celebrities on a “date” in (you guessed it) a chicken shop. These videos are generally less than 10 minutes long and are self-described as an “interview series that awkwardly combines romance and fried chicken.”

Although Murnane does not plan to introduce either the date or fried chicken aspect of Chicken Shop Date, the humour and spirit are what she is after. Through this podcast, she envisions individual sit-down sessions with Sabbats and other TCDSU members where games are played, questions are asked, and SU information is shared. 

“It’s an interesting way to make the SU more personable in terms of Sabbats. They can feel a bit separate to people so the podcast is a way of getting people internal to the SU and bridging that gap.” 

As of now, there is no official guidance on the podcast but Murnane estimates they will be released on a weekly or bi-weekly basis on YouTube and will be around 20 minutes long. 

A bi-annual TCDSU Newsletter is also something she hopes to establish. Murnane shared a personal anecdote about how her mother, a Trinity Alumna, once pulled out a booklet that students used to receive decades ago produced by TCDSU. These booklets contained Sabbat bios, a guide to Dublin, and College-specific information to support students and bring the community together. 

“Not everyone has internet and social media access … For me during my first years in College, Instagram was there but it didn’t provide me the same kind of access to information that my mum used to get and I felt alone figuring it all out.” 

“A physical newsletter is what we need,” she declared. 

Earlier this month, the Gaeilge Initiative referendum passed by a landslide 90% majority, establishing a full-time Irish language Officer (Oifigeach na Gaeilge) and boosting funding for greater integration of Irish on campus. 

Murnane is aware that a large portion of the Comms & Marketing role next year will be collaborative work with the new Irish language Officer. And that the content she produces will have to be inclusive of the Irish language. 

“I don’t want to make a big deal out of it, just integrate it… Irish is the biggest language coming into next year but I’m more than happy to include other languages as well if that’s what the people want.”

In tandem with language inclusion, Murnane wants to work closely with cultural societies on campus to platform the voices and languages of marginalised and underrepresented students. 

Accessibility and equal access, however, play less of a role in Murnane’s campaign. She was asked whether she has any plans to improve disability accessibility and accommodations or if she feels the current strategy is already meeting students’ needs.

Her response: “What [TCDSU] have been doing so far is pretty good and only getting better.”

“I suppose I would do more audio-related content, captions, text-to-speech, and just listen to students’ concerns.”

In terms of sponsorships, she intends to have a “hands-on” approach and be more “Irish-led” using the “influence of the union’s reach for mutual benefits”. 

“Ethical sponsorships and branding are really important”

“For me, ethical sponsorships and branding are really important. I also want to do sponsorships that help students with internships and graduate programs as well.” 

TCDSU have recently cut ties with Dominos due to pro-Israel support by the company. If elected, would Murnane reinstate the partnership with Dominos?

“I will continue to support the BDS movement, but when it comes to politics, my plan is to take cues from the student body,” she explained. 

The politicisation of TCDSU is a major point of contention within the organisation at present. And Murnane feels that political demonstrations should be evaluated from issue to issue. 

“As Comms & Marketing Officer, your role is to be a voice for people within the SU,” she said. “If a topic is relevant and people need it to be discussed, it’s important to highlight and talk about it. To ignore political elements of anything is a silly idea, but … your job is to represent everybody and not everybody has the same opinions.” 

In her closing statement, she addressed student voters and said “I know the SU is a strange organisation and it can feel very separate from student lives and I get why that happens, but what I want is to get rid of that.”

“I want the SU to be a place where you think about fun times. I want to help students as much as possible and for them to see what the SU can be.”

Campaigning for sabbatical officers runs from February 19 to 28. Voting will run between February 27 and 29, with results to be announced on February 29.

Gabriela Gazaniga

Gabriela Gazaniga is the Deputy Editor of News Analysis and is currently in her Junior Sophister year earning a degree in Law.