The UCD Students Union elections have officially begun, with a variety of interesting candidates, with equally interesting political manifestos.
Candidates are divided into those running for sabbatical positions, effectively running the SU, and college officers, who for the most part function as glorified campus activists.
The most candidates, bar one or two, are running for uncontested seats, with most notably only one candidate running for the position of president. This suggests that there is a problem with student participation in campus democracy, but why?
Student democracy is a largely one-sided phenomenon in which those institutionally advantaged or with the networking skills to integrate themselves into the fold, and naturally an ideological consensus on certain social issues comes to take hold over the accessibility of these positions to right-wing candidates and openly conservative expressions of conservative morality.
Perhaps the most pertinent example of this today is the Student Union’s proposed constitutional referendum to re-join the Union of Students Ireland (USI). The campus, plastered with “vote yes” posters, is visibly devoid of any anti-USI presence. Can the referendum then be said to be legitimate if the opposing case is unknown to the student body?
Regardless, a cursory view of the candidates running for election, shows a mixture of careerism and activism. However, considering that many of these people will go on to work in the corporate NGO sector, their education well prepares them for the years of permanent activism ahead of them.
Former SU Education Officer, Martha Ní Ríada, has announced her intent to run as President of the SU. Her platform has been built upon promises of increased climate activism, and student accommodation. Similarly to most candidates, the position is uncontested.
The only contested sabbatical position is that of Campaigns and Engagements Officer, show-down between Ryan Corley and Miranda Bauer.
Miranda, from Argentina, running under the slogan “Bauer Power” seeks to make UCD more diverse, by promoting “interculturality” and “decolonising the curriculum”.
Ryan Corley, running for the same position, has “spent more time in this college disenfranchised with the union than a part of it”, and has committed himself to organising coffee mornings.
Neo O’Herlihy is running for the position of Entertainments Officer. Currently the P.R.O of the DramaSoc, Neo has voiced his desire to hold scavenger hunts across campus, but is equally keen to cough up the money for the prizes?
Marc Matouc is running again for the position of Graduate Officer, continuing his policy of “Smurfit inclusion” on campus. Having run the campaign last year, and seeking to expand it this year, Marc intends on integrating Smurfit students into Belfield college events more.
Jill Nelis, UCD SU’s prospective Welfare Officer, in her manifesto makes the grand commitment to upholding transgender rights on campus – even hoping to create a “direct referral pathway for trans healthcare”. Perhaps the SU, similarly to UCD’s veterinary student experience programme, should let the medicine students take a shot at it?
Sarah McGrath is running for the position of Education Officer with a campaign oriented on academic supports and sustainability.
College Officer Candidates:
The less important positions of college officers are more contested that the coveted positions of the Student Union sabbatical team.
Running for the position of Law college officer is the over-achiever Aisling Moloney, with Ben Casey throwing his hat into the ring to chance his odds.
Next up is the position of Health Science officer, an uncontested position, which Aliyah Olawepo hopes to take with her “unique” diversity and inclusion programme.
Aoibhinn Brentnall, running for Oifigeach na Gaeilge, promises a generic platform of having more Irish on campus.
The most heated race is for Social Sciences officer, with three prospective candidates. Ben Connolly, John Walsh and Tsz Ching Pang each want the position, but it remains to be seen whose riveting poster campaign will net them the most votes from their friends.
Ms. Ching Pang, always quick to notify people of her “professional credentials” from secondary school, has been unable to comprehend that her peers don’t care.
Running for Science officer is Erin Hoare, against Nick Haynes. Erin, seeking to bring more study spaces to the Science Hub, will have a difficult time garnering votes against Hayne’s ground-breaking planned student surveys, measuring inclusivity and feelings.
Another contested election is that of Engineering and Architecture, with Jack Coleman’s relatively normal campaign being a pale comparison to Cillian Murphy’s plan to diversify Engineering and Architecture. Murphy’s passion for the union is only rivalled by inability to shut his mouth – oftentimes extending minute long discussions into hours long insufferable whinging and whining.
Running for Arts and Humanities is Louise Campbell, a mature student with a generic entertainment and engagements campaign.
For Health Science officer, is Tia Cullen, who has based her campaign on encouraging post-graduate students to sell their old lab equipment to first years.
The final college officer candidate, is Tara Toye, running for Agriculture, Food Science, and Vet Science. Her campaign suggests “there’s no red flag” in voting for her, but her statement raises more questions than it does answer. Unless she was a covert member of Extinction Rebellion, why would there be a red flag?
For certain, the coming Student Union chamber, with its present chatty cast of characters, will waste the same, if not more, time of its attendees. What could be more admirable than student democrats, who so diligently waste their nights debating into the early hours of the morning the most dull semantic nonsense?