For over a week now, the excitement has been building up. First you had the hoards of students waving flyers in your face every time you walked through the Arts Block or the Hamilton Building. Then came the profile picture frames of your friends on Facebook endorsing their favourite candidate. Finally, there were the news, articles, and husting events filling your entire news feed and notification bars.
While some people genuinely get excited about the SU elections every year, other students, the majority in fact, couldn’t care less about them and eagerly await the end of it all.
So in order to contribute to the excitement of some and to alleviate the weariness of many, I have decided to write the conservative’s guide to the SU 2018 elections. Without further ado, here’s the guide:
Bear in mind that the President Race is really the only chunky part.
El Presidente. This is the misogynistic race, apparently. Articles from the university’s newspapers love to highlight how no female candidate has run for president in the last three years, or that in the course of this century only three out of eighteen TCDSU Presidents have been female. Apparently the patriarchal oppression has been forcing female students for the last 18 years not to run for the position. And if they don’t concede the possibility that women might naturally tend to aspire for other noble ambitions than merely being a students’ union president, then maybe these same students should spend less time complaining in articles and more time getting signatures and registering to be the next president. Having said that, this is an important role when it comes to making decisions and SUphiles should be spending a considerable amount of time thinking about who to vote for.
Shane De Rís. The Emmanuel Macron of this year’s election, De Rís has the pretty face and nothing else. He is an SU-hack insider promising change and a refocus of the system, but it will more than likely stay all the same. If you don’t believe me and you bothered enough to grab one of his flyers, open it up (look specially at his proposals for Campaigns). Now tell me, is there anything there that Keane, the current president, has not tried to do already or would not want to do anytime soon? In this same manifesto, Shane states clearly that he “won’t be afraid to defend the rights of students”, yet on a University Times’ interview, he had no problem opposing the constitutional right of students to leave the SU. With the secure vote from every SUphile around Trinity and that of his Cumann Gaelach friends, we might be seeing Emmanuel De Rís obtaining the presidency.
Paul Molloy. Honestly, I’d rather attend a Hillary Clinton rally than listen to Molloy speak at another husting. Though he doesn’t use a teleprompter, he inspires little more than boredom when he talks. Molloy is no supporter of the students’ right to leave the union, yet he promises to both publish and publicise his weekly schedule and his reports on Facebook, perhaps thinking that every SUphile would love to spend some time at Friday pre-drinks going over his profile and making him accountable for spending an unnecessary five extra minutes during his lunch break. His experience though, could be seen as encouraging. While auditor of the Hist, despite his undeniably left-wing opinions, he held strong in his decision to host Nigel Farage and thus affirmed his commitment to free speech around campus. Still, Molloy is probably the most left-wing person of all four candidates, at least ideologically. The diverse circles of supporters which Molloy has does indicate that he is not a difficult person to approach and that he is someone willing to listen to the other side. But listening doesn’t necessarily mean acting upon something. Molloy, for many, is the candidate of compromise. We could do better.
Sean Ryan. This candidate certainly has the passion, but I am not sure if I can praise anything other than that. His interventions at the many hustings have been characterised for being brief and to the point. Though he may not have the experience which Molloy or Shane De Macron have, he has been humble enough to accept his lack of solutions to many problems. When it comes to the students’ fundamental right to leave the SU, he has acknowledged the importance of the issue and his willingness to discuss the topic more by stating that “in an ideal world people would be able to opt out”. If it weren’t for his manifesto though, this candidate would be giving conservatives a hope. You name any of the divisive and impractical left-wing issues and they are sure to appear. His proposals for campaigns and local ‘problems’ are things which do not concern the average Trinity student, nevermind conservatives. Sean is serious when it comes to accommodation, but that is a card that has been played by all candidates as well. In fairness to him, his slogan “Giving an arm and a leg for Trinity”, which uses identity politics in a funny and positive way, is the best of all four.
Michael McDermott. If you do not know who this candidate is, you are seriously missing Trinity’s crème de la crème. With his Trinity Collidge Facebook page having just over 4,800 likes, McDermott does not need to claim at any husting or interview that he is the candidate who best knows what the student populus wants. It’s quite evident. You only have to look at a couple of his posts in order to realise that Michael has been absolutely aware of every single issue which has happened on campus over the last couple of years. Whether it’s a society event, an administration decision to buy Iveagh Grounds sports facilities, a Fresh email, a BJ magazine, or a visit from Farage, Mr. Collidge has something to say about it. Yes, he only says funny things, but they would not be funny if they were not true to some extent and that is why a lot of people do take him seriously. With that in mind, no level of engagement from any other candidate can compare itself to the level of connection which McDermott has achieved with students from every background throughout his degree. And though he might be seen as the anti-establishment figure wanting to drain the swamp, everyone knows that he is beyond any right-center-left-wing labels and that he is anything but divisive.
Furthermore, his policies are the most different, straightforward, and simplest of all four candidates. McDermott is the only candidate who unapologetically supports the right of students to leave the SU. Though it would be a “bad move”, he said at a University Times interview, the “right should be there”. Apart from getting a great laugh, anyone who was able to read over one of his manifestos should have realised what McDermott was trying to achieve. Under every one of his jokes at interviews (the best one by Trinity News) and hustings, Michael has tried to show the disillusionment with the SU which is currently present among many students.
He has realised how an excessive focus from the SU on politics and campaigns divides the student body much more than it unites it. If McDermott makes his way to the oval office (which is more than possible if a considerable amount of his Facebook followers decide to vote for him either because they want genuine change or because they just want to have a laugh), he will have to rely a lot on his team and let the internal SU structures operate as they have been doing so for the last couple of years. Once on the podium, the words he chooses to use will be key in transforming his ideas into realities. Finally, and I think you know why I have spent a lot of column inches on this candidate, McDermott is not only the candidate for SUsceptics or for conservatives, he is the candidate for everyone who wants the SU to focus more on student issues which affect the majority (if not all students) rather than on national issues which affect a minority. If you don’t think Mr. Collidge is the best option for this year’s election, speak now or forever hold your peace.
Education Officer. Education freaks like me would love to see a more competitive race for this position. Aimee Connolly though, has all the credentials, the enthusiasm, and the ideas to do a good enough job as the next Education Officer. It’s hard to lose against yourself.
Welfare Officer. This is another one-candidate race, so there is not a lot to choose from. But I must say, De Rís’ smile is nothing compared to James’ heavenly countenance (just look at one of his flyers). His manifesto, considering the fact that he is running for Welfare Officer, positively strikes the common student as very moderate and lacking in identity politics. James hustings’ speeches have been quite encouraging in many regards. It should not be hard for James to do a better job as Welfare Officer than the previous one. All he would have to do is not to ask for photographs from students during their menstruation cycles and avoid using the word trigger warning.
Ents Officer. When deciding on who to vote for this position, ignore any manifestos or proposals from all candidates. Do not pay attention to their speeches either. Just go to each of the candidates’ social media platforms and see which one is the best at playing hard. You want entertainment? Vote for the one who loves it more. Or else, just vote for your friend’s friend.
Communications and Marketing. We were absolutely fine without this position three years ago. It’s just like the creation of yet another EU bureaucratic position in Brussels that no one really knows why it was set up in the first place. This is the only vote that you should perhaps spoil.
University Times Editor. Whatever you do, do not vote for Michael McDermott to become the next editor for the University Times. The risks of having someone being both chief editor of UT and SU president are manifold. It would be like having both president Hillary Clinton and CNN (Clinton’s National Network) running the United States of America. We are better of having someone in UT who can look skeptically at the SU and hold it to account. Eleanor O’Mahony is one of the best journalists in Trinity College, and as a good journalist, both right-wing and left-wing people should vote for her.
That’s it I guess. Now go out there and vote! And don’t worry if your candidate is not elected. It is more than probable that the SU will play a very small role in your whole university experience.
Voting Times can be found here (courtesy of the SU).