For what regards itself to be a journalistic bastion, Trinity College’s University Times (UT) has accrued a rather blemished reputation over the years. From budgetary overspends, to the infamous botched bugging of student accommodation, the paper has shuffled by in the background of Trinners life for some years, almost seeing their funding canned by a student referendum in recent years.
While our fifth estate shamelessly begs for state funding from the Future of Media Commission to shore up hemorrhaging finances, the UT is ahead of the curve, being funded from mandatory student union dues, whether individual students like it or not and no option to opt-out.
With an erroneous entitlement to a student-funded flat for its editor, and an expense account that would make a gombeen TD blush, the UT is at the cutting edge of where loose morals and even looser budgets can take up a journalistic mantle.
While the position of editor is officially open to any TCD student in an annual ballot, it is generally a preordained affair. Most years the position is uncontested, making it a rather shameful coronation rather than a meaningful fight (though a Spiderman-themed joke candidate garnered a respectful 35% of the vote in 2018).
This year however will see something of an electoral dark horse emerging in the race in the form of our very own Peter Caddle, final year philosophy student and former Culture Editor for this very magazine.
Running on a platform of financial reform, namely with regards to dumping the UT’s costly and entirely pointless print edition, Caddle has served at the coalface of this publication almost since its inception.
Predictably, the gremlins at UT have hectically lashed out at him as being the generic far-right monster in an attempt at pigeonholing him. Chatter around the college circuit however paints the paper’s leadership as being a lot more anxious than they let on, finally seeing a challenger encroaching on the positions they’ve grown fat from.
Regardless of any accusations of being far-right, Caddle seems to intend to keep his campaign and editorial tenureship as broad-based as possible, running on matters of reform against a university clique that has played fast and loose with their funding and ethics for far too long, and who have grown complacent in the process. One can easily imagine there is quite the coalition of the disaffected that he intends to tap into in the coming two weeks of campaigning, the end result being perhaps a rather startling result.
Caddle’s opposite number for the campaign is the paper’s current deputy editor Emer Moreau. As her response to the prospective challenge from a right-wing candidate, Moreau has committed herself to a more diverse publication, lashing out at the inherent whiteness of the UT (seriously no joke) and committing herself to the formation of a “Diversity and Inclusion Committee”. In doing so she reveals herself as being concerned with petty progressive office politics than serious affairs.
As it stands the UT, like the SU that is bankrolling it, is gurgling around the drain already, with deep rooted issues left to fester over the years. A printed paper in a modern student campus, with lectures currently taking place online and probably post-pandemic, it is a white elephant if ever there was one. One which exists solely to bolster the egos and Linkedin pages of UT’s editorial staff.
Insofar as these rather nugatory elections matter, they are entry points for the Irish elite, and a perfect place for the aspiring rightist to throw a spanner into the works and cut a potential jugular. The UT and the more general SU cartel culture which one sees rampant at every level are the perfect breeding ground for the modern Irish elite, and hopefully an eventual populist cadre will come to challenge the former.
We have seen right-wing candidates win SU elections, with even TCD playing host to a populist backlash which saw 49% of students voting to financially cripple the SU after years of mismanagement. A guerrilla campaign in over the next decade should hopefully see off the SU’s as political bodies and put them back where they rightfully belong: concerning themselves with the quality of life of students and not the fringe occupations of the far left.
To be clear, one would reasonably expect Caddle to be clobbered by the Mandela House brigade when the final result comes in, given just how few students bother engaging with institutions that don’t represent or care for them or their views. However the long-term goal of such a campaign is to inspire other students on the right to get active in decadent institutions left to rot under the writ of a progressive ruling class and build the prerequisite networks. This publication has felled a few Goliaths in its short history.
Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking TCDSU elections are overly important, but let’s not lowball their overall importance either in incubating this country’s progressive overlordship.
Interviewing members Action française recently, I was impressed how even a small dedicated coterie of patriotic students could muster serious opposition to the intellectual elite of the French Republic at their alma mater. While early days, yet there is no reason why rightists in years to come couldn’t hammer out a faction within student life on campuses up and down the country.
Our elite at every level are blundering and are without the intellectual or organisational grounding that we see even with Continental liberals. In the aftermath of the defenestration of political Catholicism, and the defanging of physical force republicanism, they have grown self-satisfied in a sort of never ending triumphalism, ripe to be challenged as the myriad of contradictions of progressive governance bear fruit.
One would implore all reading to get registered to vote given the farcical levels of turnout for these college rodeos. Per the total number of votes from previous years these elections manage a paltry 10-13% of the total student populace with potentially half that in light of the covid crisis dislocating most students further from the college apparatus.
I normally would not subject my worst enemy to the ordeal of watching and reporting on the minutiae of SU elections, however this year at least expect a fox to be let into the otherwise complacent journalistic henhouse. What can happen in the traditionally perfunctory world of TCD student politics can happen anywhere in Irish politics in decades to come.
Note elections for TCDSU sabbatical positions will occur from the 9th to the 11th of March,with all current undergraduate students entitled to register to vote, which all intending to vote must do. The form to do so can be found here