Analysis: Picking your battles

As UCDSU adopt a policy on abortion and UCD Socialist Workers Party share their opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Killian Woods asks if these entities should be taking these kinds of stances

Taking a stance seems to be the new trend at the moment. Between UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) feeling the need to adopt a policy on a abortion and the UCD Socialist Workers Party (UCD SWP) defiantly backing their view that Palestine should be freed from Israeli oppression, UCD student organisations are putting issues that are of national and international relevance on their agenda.

The stance taken on abortion has become a popular policy adopted by many Students’ Unions (SU) nationwide, with NUI Galway SU taking a similar stance to UCDSU earlier in the year following a similarly modelled preferendum that saw the majority of students elect for a the pro-choice policy.

Arguments have been outlined about the validity of abortion as a student issue that is worthy of the SU allocating precious time to campaign for abortion on demand in Ireland and funding such endeavours. The topic of abortion divides the Irish population into far more factions than four options on a ballot paper.

Forcing students to vote on such an issue is always going to leave a specific subsection of them left feeling underrepresented on this matter. Even if 8% of the total vote represented a pro-life view, this 8% should be entitled to their view and a right to hold it. Now these students are a member of a union that holds a view on abortion that is exactly the opposite of their own. Your union, someone else’s voice, it seems.

The results of the election have already enticed certain students to consider their membership of UCDSU, with some even voicing their intention to disassociate themselves from their representative body. Although this is an unprecedented situation for UCDSU, it may be some students’ only option if they want in no shape or form to be affiliated to a union that is mandated not to adhere to their personal opinion.

As mentioned previously, UCD SWP are casting their aspersions as far as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, extending an olive branch of solidarity towards the Palestinian people that is in line with their party ideology that the SWP are anti-oppression in any form. These views, which are political statements that are representative of the party itself and a bigger political plan, don’t necessarily warrant adoption by a student society.

Highlighting such an incongruity in UCD SWP’s priorities would be unfair without putting in context the rest of student related issues they campaign on. Their free education for all stance falls in line with the opinion of the majority of students who purely want to keep their costs down and their aim to bring issues such as full LGBT* rights and homophobia to the fore are admirable, however, opinions on Israel seem quite beyond their remit.

The argument behind what battles the SU should be battling or societies should be campaigning on boil down to the merits of fighting a cause that is in one’s personal opinion worth fighting, student related or not.

Although ideology such as “Freedom for Palestine”, as cited in UCD SWP literature, does fall in line with the party line, students are right to question whether the society or union that they are a member of is dealing with issues majorly relevant to students.