UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) President, Mícheál Gallagher, has sought to justify the Union spending on its recent class rep training weekend after it was revealed that the total cost exceeded the previously budgeted amount for the trip by around €2,000.
UCDSU brings its newly elected Union Class Representatives (UCRs) on an annual training weekend every October, with the aim of maximising their effectiveness throughout the year. This year’s gathering took place in Co. Wicklow two weeks ago, where €8,000 had been allocated to cover the entire cost of the event.
Despite going over budget, Gallagher felt that the cost was justified, highlighting the expense of bringing away 120 class reps and feeding and housing them for two nights.
General Manager of UCDSU, Phillip Mudge, pointed out how the sheer number of people participating severely limited UCDSU’s accommodation options, saying that “there were only two or three options near to Dublin.” He highlighted how cheap the venue was in Co. Wicklow was in stark contrast to the extra transport costs that would have been associated with a trip to Co. Galway or Co. Mayo.
Mudge praised Gallagher’s negotiation skills whilst organising the trip, acknowledging how the venue owners “can hold their line on what they want to charge,” but that he “got the price down as far as he could.”
Despite going over budget, class reps were asked to contribute towards their meals on the Friday of the weekend. Mudge accepted that “there was kickback from that from some of the people saying that we were asking them to go away for training and then asking us to provide money for some of the meals,” but claimed that it was a necessary cutback.
He also dismissed claims about how this overspend might impact upon UCDSU’s overall budget, referring to how they are “coming in under for the year overall because we are running a sensible organisation” and that it is merely a budget, not an “exact science.”
Overall, Gallagher was delighted at how the training went, with the reps gaining valuable knowledge through a wide variety of modules designed to aid everything from their public speaking skills to their ability to organise a class trip.
They were also taught about how the Student Council works, how they can create policies and motions and how to keep their Executive Officers to account. He emphasised how UCDSU believes in “training good class reps because they are the future of our Union,” and that this goal ultimately reaches far beyond any financial cost.