Earlier this week The Burkean reported on the launch of our former Culture Editor Peter Caddle’s candidacy for the editorship of TCD’s University Times in this year’s TCDSU student elections. As the masthead publication for the student body, the editorial role is an elected position per the rules of the TCDSU constitution with provision made for the supply of a flat and salary at student expense.
A stalwart of this publication since its formation, Caddle unsurprisingly has received various volleys the past month from the left-leaning student scene, with the usual accusations of being ‘far-right’ and even a non-existent support for eugenics being levelled against him. Regardless Caddle by any measure has performed rather diligently in debates, enough to rattle the right cages in Mandela House.
Seemingly motivated by a need to stress his anti-racist credentials, Caddle has today announced his intention to pledge his student-funded flat if elected to asylum seekers seeking ‘own door’ accommodation. This is especially relevant in light of the government’s new White Paper for the State’s post-Direct Provision strategy. Furthermore Caddle has stated his intention to seek out the commitment of not just his opponent in the race, Emer Moreau, but the commitment of every candidate for TCDSU student elections to do likewise.
In a statement issued this morning Caddle outlined his intention and motivations for making the offer:
‘For years, student unions have spearheaded opposition to Direct Provision. However, there is little point moralising about institutional racism from the luxury of SU-funded accommodation. As such, we believe it is time for action and that it is morally incumbent of TCDSU officials and others to stand by their principles and hand over their accommodation to asylum seekers.’
In addition, Caddle in his statement mentioned that contact had been made with agencies to assist with the potential transition.
Last month The Burkean reported on the current scramble for public housing to provide for the new asylum regime, with documents shown to use highlighting interdepartmental tension, with the Department of Housing even going so far as to label the plans reckless due to the strain put on housing supply.
At the coalface for calling for the abolition of Direct Provision for years, it only seems proper that TCDSU should be the first to dance to their own tune. While presently many county councils nationwide are being asked to conscript much stretched resources to fulfill the new commitments being made, the TCDSU, despite leading the chorus calls for Direct Provision’s abolition, has found itself so far exempt from the effect of these reforms until now.
As of the time of publication, it is unclear whether Caddle’s opponent in the race Emer Moreau looks set to match Caddle’s pledge to forgo her student funded flat to assist benighted refugees. In a feisty and unusual campaign, both due to Covid-19 restrictions, and the inclusion of a populist candidate in the form of Caddle, Moreau has distinguished herself with her manifesto’s commitment to create a diversity committee to better represent the voices of minorities on campus.
While Moreau’s response is unknown at the time of writing, it stands to reason that a journalist of suc virtue and dedication to the plight of POC individuals will likely jump at the opportunity to hand what some describe as a comfy perk of the job over to asylum seekers.
Indeed, while The Burkean is approaching each individual candidate for election individually for their response to the proposals, their acceeptance should be taken as a given, owing to the student union’s long-standing reputation on progressive issues. There was never such a need for such a benefit-in-kind for student officials, particularly considering the Student Union’s endemic issue of budgeting, and even less of a need in an era of Covid-19 and online lectures.
With a budget that sometimes runs into the region of €1.1 to €1.5 million per annum, the TCDSU has amassed a rather negative reputation, both for its budgeting and conduct, with 49% of students voting for membership to be optional ‘opt-in’ membership, as currently all students are obliged to pay union dues if attending.
As of the 2020 figures made available to us under Freedom of Information, TCDSU spent €166,000 in salaries and expenses for its leading six sabbatical officers alone, with a further €202,000 spent on further salaries to TCDSU employees.
Indeed this is not the first time that the issue of the University Times editor receiving a flat has been called into question, with students lobbying for a referendum on the matter in the aftermath of the paper’s infamous bugging fiasco of 2019.
A surprising bolt from the blue in what is habitually a tranquil campaign, to some Caddle’s declaration may be disingenuous, to others it may serve as an act of accelerationism to point out obvious flaws in the fake moralism of some on the Left. Regardless of where one stands on whether TCDSU candidates should accept, if Caddle’s proposals become actions, TCD may find its Front Square receiving top heavy quantities of Albanians, Nigerians and Georgians going by some of the asylum statistics for recent years.
While Moreau and many like here are talking the talk when it comes to matters of diversity, it takes someone of such moral calibre and downright vision like Caddle to propose these measures.
The end result of a decade-long war waged against Direct Provision was laid bare in the form of the State’s White Paper on the issue, with many working class Irish families looking undeniably set to suffer at the behest of years of activism by those who have passed through the TCDSU. It only stands to reason that these privileged citadels be breached, and that those who live rather comfortably on the student purse learn the true value of diversity.
When it comes to Ireland’s future elite, diversity must begin at home.