Let me ask you a question comrade: What’s the difference between The Catholic Church and Trinity’s Student Union?
The former massively out of touch organisation doesn’t pretend to be democratic.
The SU however have firmly kept to the claim that they are a fair and democratic organisation, and while they admit they have an engagement problem, they still claim to represent the undergraduate population of Trinity in its entirety. They don’t.
There is no greater evidence of this than the opening hustings for the 2019 leadership race. Held in front of the dining hall, the event that launched the current election period was attended by roughly one hundred people. However, almost all of these people were either running for office themselves, or part of the campaign to get someone else elected. The rest were journalists. There were almost no uninvolved students present.
This evidence reveals one undeniable truth: The SU, a massively powerful and influential organisation (by university standards), both on and off campus, that can afford to have a deficit six figures long, is controlled in its entirety by a tiny minority of students motivated by ideology or self-interest.
But who are these people? Who are these students vying for control of the most badly run ideological machine on campus? Well, to make a long story short, none of them are exactly what I’d call impressive or worthy candidates.
It should be mentioned that half of the positions are not being contested at all, while the other half are not being contested ideologically. Every notable candidate appears to be far-left on the political spectrum, and almost all have held a major presence in a student society or are already well established within the SU. There are no outsiders in this race.
But let’s get down to specifics and look individually at the races for each position.
For the prestigious title of SU president, we have Daire Hennessy, a man who uses the word craic so much it’s genuinely worrisome for his vocabulary, facing Laura Beston, someone who seems to share the belief with Sinn Féin that if she occasionally uses cúpla focail in her material, no one will notice that her policies are distinctly Leftist. I won’t be voting for either of them.
For the position of Education officer we have Niamh McCay vs Sally Anne McCarthy. Both have been involved with the SU for a long time and are established progressives, with the former being last year’s ‘Citizenship Officer.’ Again, not exactly inspiring choices.
There is only one person running for the position of Welfare Officer, that being Aisling Leen. Her manifesto includes ‘drug safety’ videos and providing information on how to obtain abortions. Do I need to say more?
Communications and Marketing is also uncontested, with Muireann Kane running for the position. This Officership is all about presentation and clarity, and considering I’ve made things in Microsoft Paint that are clearer than her campaign leaflet, I’d say that she’s not quite the woman for the job.
Donal MacNamee is another person running without competition, this time for the role of Chief Editor of University Times. Again, he is a progressive and an SU insider, having been actively involved in UT for the last few years. When you consider the standard of the UT as a paper, his previous involvement is hardly a plus.
Last, but definitely not least, we have the position of head of Trinity Ents. Being the least political of the positions, it is also the one most hotly contested, with three people running for the position. Being one of the few parts of the SU that is actively engaged with, I have very little to say about this race other than that Jerico has great promo material.
With the lightning examination of the races done, and since so many of the candidates are so lackluster, you may be asking what should you do instead of voting for them. Spoil your vote perhaps? No. In fact, I would suggest you do something with your vote that could end up having an actual impact on this election cycle.
You see, for all its faults, Trinity SU has one provision in their constitution that is true to the democratic process. For every one of the above races, voters have the option to reject all of the candidates, and instead chose to reopen nominations.
So let me, as a member of the Student’s Union, suggest something: Why don’t we all just vote ‘reopen nominations’? Worst case scenario is that we get an idea of how many similarly Leftist SU insiders are on campus.
The best case scenario is the disruption of the bureaucratic mess that is the SU. If even one of the positions is flipped, there is no doubt that the establishment quacks would be rather upset. And who doesn’t love a good progressive meltdown?
Right now these people believe that they are untouchable. That they have the power to rule over the student population like demagogues, and demand we adhere to any ideological policy they deem important whether we like it or not.
But this weeks election period gives the real oppressed class of Trinity College Dublin a chance to rebel. A chance to pull the student bourgeoisie down from their high horses and force them to comply with the hitherto silent will of the working student.
This week we have the chance to stage a revolution which would forever change the political landscape of Trinity College. All it would take is for you to turn up on Tuesday, show your student ID, and put the number ‘1’ into a little box titled ‘Reopen Nominations.’