Union will not hold education officer bye-election, contrary to constitution

The duties of the education officer will be divided among sabbatical and part-time officers for two months following Catherine Arnold’s resignation

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) has ruled it will not hold a bye-election to replace Education Officer Catherine Arnold following their resignation.

The union said the Electoral Commission (EC), Oversight Commission (OC), and sabbatical officers, with the support of TCDSU staff and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), “decided that it would not be in the best interests of students to run a bye-election”.

“The EC, OC, and part-time officers (PTOs) are full-time students, and as the exam period approaches, the wellbeing of everyone in the Trinity community is paramount,” it said.

“To run an election at this time would be asking a massive commitment of union volunteers, and of the student electorate.”

The EC also said a new EC will be elected at the last TCDSU council meeting of the academic year on April 2, the same date Arnold will officially step down.

It said the new EC “would therefore be expected to run a sabbatical election in their first/second week of office without the support of the secretary to the EC”, which is the education officer.

“In ordinary circumstances, we would run the bye-election – however, it is not practically feasible in this instance,” it concluded.

According to the TCDSU constitution, in the event of a sabbatical officer’s resignation, a bye-election must take place.

The EC must open nominations for a bye-elections for one to two weeks, and the election must take place within two weeks of nominations closing.

This decision comes amidst a fierce debate within TCDSU over the sanctity of the constitution.

A motion of censure was brought against TCDSU president László Molnárfi last week following an OC recommendation due to repeated breaches of the constitution, which he argued were in the best interests of students.

The vote did not take place after several union members including Molnárfi staged a walkout, leaving council below the minimum amount required to vote.

Arnold announced their resignation in an email to senior union officers and College staff yesterday evening. They requested the minimum four weeks’ notice be waived and they can instead leave the position on April 2.

The union said it has been proposed that Education Officer-elect Eoghan Gilroy will take office from June 1. In an email sent to union officers and senior members of College staff, Arnold has said they will provide a handover “as soon as feasible”.

In the meantime, the union has said the casework of the education officer will be taken up by sabbatical officers with support from USI members.

PTOs may also be asked to assist “where appropriate”, according to the union, and will be compensated for this work.

Students are advised to email [email protected]. Emails sent to the education officer’s email will automatically redirect to this email.

“We have a plan in place to ensure that there will be no lapse in casework or service provision in this interim period, and will support the outgoing Education Officer with the handover process,” the union said.

In their resignation letter, Arnold described a “fraught year with consistent issues of a toxic workplace environment and workplace bullying with particular cases pertaining to dignity and respect as well as employment law”.

They said they are “concerned about the capacity of all other officers to ensure that student welfare is put to the forefront until the end of their term” following their resignation.

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