Originally published in Volume IV, Issue 11 on 8th April 1998 by Sinead Ingoldsby.
Architecture students are to disaffiliate from the Students’ Union and establish an autonomous representative body in Richview.
This move comes as a result of increasing dissatisfaction with the current Students’ Union framework and has widespread support among the 324 architecture students as well as the staff of the faculty. A referendum on the issue is planned for the beginning of the next academic year.
Shane O’Neill, a fourth year architecture student and one of the main protagonists in the campaign explained the motivations behind the call for disaffiliation. “The Students’ Union in its current form is of absolutely no benefit to us. We don’t see anyone from the Union until two weeks before the elections. Most of Architecture’s positions on Students’ Union Council remain permanently unfilled.”
Should the Richview faculty decide to break away from the official Students’ Union, the independent body expect to gain control of the seven pounds per student which is currently directed towards the Students’ Union from the £250 capitation charge. This would total £2,268. Any decision to redirect a portion of the capitation fee would have to be approved by UCD’s Governing Body. According to Student Services Officer, Gerry Horkan, it is unlikely that the Governing Body would accede to such a request.
An independent Students’ Union is already in existence in the Vet school in Ballsbridge. The “Veterinary Students’ Union” does not receive £7 per student from the capitation fund. This money is still directed towards the official Students’ Union which continues to represent the vets. However, the Ballsbridge based organisation does receive a society’s grant from the Students’ Consultative Forum. Last year this grant was £1,300.
Mr. O’Neill was keen to emphasise that the main motivation for the move was not financial: “it would make it easier dealing with the college if we were representing ourselves.” After making a representation to the SU in the coming weeks, a detailed constitution, including election structures and forum for communication with staff and students will be devised so that a full package is made available for the Richview students to vote upon immediately after returning to college next September. It is intended to create non-paid, non-Sabbatical positions in the proposed Architects’ Union.
The architecture school’s staff members are believed to be very supportive of the idea of an independent union for Richview. Head of the School, Professor Loughlin Kealy told the University Observer that, although he was aware of the plan to disaffiliate, he was not familiar of the specifics. He said that the matter was to be fully discussed at the next meeting of the staff-student committee but that he “would have no objection to the concept of a Richview Students’ Union.”
SU President Ian Walsh said that while he could understand the reasoning behind the architects’ desire to leave the union, he wouldn’t support such a move as it would “inevitably result in a duplication of resources.” He claimed that “the overall problem is one of funding. We are the most poorly funded Students’ Union per capita in the country. We simply do not have the resources to provide every faculty with everything they need.”
However, the architects claim their six year long course “…means that we’ve been around long enough to realise that as Students’ Union Presidents come and go every year that nothing ever changes and we want to a chance to try and make some changes for ourselves. What good is a shop or a Freshers’ Ball on campus to us when we’re so far removed from everything up in Richview?”