UCD students voted overwhelmingly to approve a 20 year extension of the Student Centre Levy beyond 2023, which will be used to fund an expansion to the existing student centre services on the west side of campus.
2,426 students, representing 61 per cent of all voters in the referendum, voted in favour of the levy’s extension, with 1,552 (39 per cent) opposed. Overall, 3,978 students voted in the student centre levy referendum.
The results were announced this evening by the UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) Returning Officer, Michael Foley, after two days of voting by Union members. The plans to expand the student centre include a new sports hall, rehearsal space and the refurbishment of the Astra Hall in the Old Student Centre.
Proportionately, students in the Carysfort and Agriculture and Food Sciences constituencies were most in favour of the levy’s extension, with 92 per cent and 90 per cent respectively in favour. Students in the Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences constituency were most opposed, with 63 per cent of students voting against extending the levy.
Continuing its tradition as the Union’s largest voting bloc, 850 students from Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences turned out to participate in the Union’s policy referendum, with 614 students from Science and and 468 students from Health Sciences respectively representing the second and third largest constituencies in the Union.
No speech was given by any member of the ‘No’ campaign following the final results, however, Captain of the UCD Boat Club Max Murphy spoke to a gathered crowd of candidates, campaigners and campus media outside the Red Room where counting was ongoing since the early morning. Murphy thanked “the campaign team, people I kind of never really met but they were pretty incredible and then to everyone who actually came out on the day”.
“[We] had 65, 70 people who actually came out canvassing, so it was pretty incredible so I was thrilled to be a part of it.”
Additional office space for student societies, meditation and relaxation spaces and a charging hub were among the other facilities promised to student representatives by officials from UCD Student Services in a presentation to the Union’s Council in November.
In a separate referendum, students voted resoundingly to approve a new Union constitution. More than three-quarters of voters chose to approve a revised constitution which will see the return of an Entertainments Officer, the introduction of a Diversity & Inclusion Campaign Coordinator to the Union’s Campaign Forum and changes to the manner in which referendums, particularly impeachment referendums, are held. The constitutional requirement to hold a referendum on membership of the Union of Students of Ireland, the national umbrella group for students’ unions has also been removed.
2,385 students, representing 77 per cent of student voters, voted in favour of the new constitution, with 729 votes (23 per cent) against. In a speech following the announcement, incumbent Campaigns & Communications Officer Tom Monaghan read a message from incumbent Graduate Officer which stated that “UCDSU entered a period of critical debt some years which lead to UCDSU having to reduce the amount of money we were spending in order to service these loans. We have now exited that debt and it is time to move from a time of crisis to a time of growth.”
“The constitution is the document that keeps control in the hands of you, the students. The constitution is your strongest connection as a student to the Union, and keeps power in your hands. The votes you cast give the Union legitimacy and is the only source of authority, and it is this authority that allows your voice to be heard at the highest level of the university.”
Following the successful passage of the new constitution, a byelection will now be scheduled by the Union’s Returning Officer to elect a new Entertainments Officer.
The “Yes” campaign was fronted by outgoing Graduate Officer Niall Torris, who represented the campaign at Hustings on Wednesday 27th March. The move to introduce a new constitution started in summer 2018 with consultation between the Constitutional Review Board and UCD students about what they wanted in a constitution. There was no formal campaign opposing the new constitution.