With an election coming up candidates should consider which issues they can and cannot affect. The union does not run the bar. A sabbatical officer previously took credit for bringing burritos to campus (which are still available in Centra) and that did not go well. People running for the Students’ Union should concentrate on the well-being of UCD students current and incoming because SUSI grants and the UCD Counselling services are unfortunately not going to solve all problems.
Those of us lucky enough to come to university are still faced with challenges, mentally, physically, and financially. Many degrees require that you do work placement that is often unpaid. This must be done on top of what might be long hours, plenty of assignments and exams, and possibly also a part-time job.
The pressure of exams can result in, or exacerbate, mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. The counselling waiting lists in UCD are not going to get shorter by themselves. Something needs to be done about this. Students may die as a result of the counselling service’s inability to cater for all students. Funding is needed for more counsellors and more space needs to be set aside for the service. This funding is unlikely to appear without significant pressure on those who govern UCD. Board meetings may not be enough. Protests may be necessary for any change to occur. Newspaper articles also help on occasion.
Financially, most students on campus are struggling in some way. The Editor and Deputy Editor of this newspaper are extremely lucky to be funded by their parents. Many students in UCD and across Ireland face the issue of having to do a job that they could not possibly live off. Many students are restricted from gaining this experience that helps bulk up CVs leading to career progression.
The candidates elected will have some control over the jobs of those in the SU shop and those at the University Observer, as well as possibly, however indirectly, those working for Aramark on campus. This responsibility should not be taken lightly.
While we cannot speak for SU shop workers, the University Observer has had a positive relationship with the Students’ Union for most of this year and we wish for this to continue into next year, though there will be a new team here also.
We wish the Students’ Union to have a positive relationship with all students next year, if possible. The responsibility for this is not just on the election candidates. For UCDSU to cope well with its members students need to vote for the candidates best suited to the job and they need to listen to what is happening around them. Hints of ignorance, bigotry, and homophobia had little effect on last year’s elections. This resulted in a union that fractured within months.
Do not vote for candidates because they are attractive. This may sound obvious but looks have been taken into account in previous votes, particularly with regard to female candidates. Do not vote for candidates simply because a friend of a friend said that they were sound. Find out about people. Watch videos and read articles from the University Observer and the College Tribune. Look through manifestos and question if any of the ideas are actually feasible. If you are hearing rumours about candidates investigate them: some may be true, some may be false.
What candidates do you think will have the ability to rally crowds as well as help individuals in an efficient and friendly manner, and speak up on boards with UCD staff? What candidates care about the well-being of all students? Gimmicks do not solve an accommodation crisis or counselling waiting lists.