Ascough's Views on LGBT+ Matters Arise at Hustings

Ascough was asked many questions on being part of a union that supports the rights of LGBT+ students and how her views might conflict with this. She confirmed that she did not, and will not, attend Pride but stated that she is “a president for everyone.” Ascough said that she respects different viewpoints.At Student Council yesterday (Monday 23rd) a motion was passed that mandated the union to support marriage equality North of the border. When the College Tribune asked her in hustings how she could lead a union that passed this motion when she herself had previously canvassed against marriage equality she replied that “I accept that I have opinions that might not be the norm in UCD.” She added that when she was elected, “I said I will be a president for everyone.” When pressed more on the issue she said “In my job as president I will do what I have to do to make sure that it has the support that it needs.”When asked, by the University Observer, how she managed to attend the Rally for Life which UCDSU does not support but she failed to attend Pride which the SU does support she said that she was in Galway with friends from USA during the weekend of the Pride parade.She was then asked if she intended attending Pride in future, she said “I will not be SU President next Pride so in my personal time I probably won’t be there.”Ascough was asked how she could represent LGBTQ+ students when she does not agree that they should have their fundamental human rights. She responded by explaining that “I respect all different viewpoints on this and other issues and I have always been willing and ready to work with a variety of different people.” She repeated the words “I hope” several times with pauses before continuing, “I hope that I can represent and that people can feel represented by me. I was elected to do a range of things and I have been doing my best on these things and yeah… I’m doing my best."Amy Crean was asked by an audience member about a Facebook status which she posted just after Ascough’s election calling for her impeachment. Ascough also mentioned this status multiple times. In Crean’s response to the question she said “On a personal level, I did have reservations, not just because someone with opposing views to me would be in a position of leadership in my union but someone with opposing views to me on my fundamental existence as a queer person.” When this was stated sneers could be heard from a member of Ascough’s campaign who were standing behind representatives from the two college newspapers. Crean continued “When the union is meant to be inclusive, that’s not just inclusive of ideologies, that’s inclusive tangibly of people.” “This isn’t the first time, as some of us may know that I’ve campaigned for a yes and Katie has actively campaigned for a no.” Crean is referring to when she canvassed for a yes vote for marriage equality while Ascough fought for a no.Speaking about the diversity of the student body Ascough stated, “I am happy and willing and ready to respect and work with all of these people. I feel a little less respected by Amy who has been calling for my impeachment since day one. I respect her views and I respect the views of the union”While Ascough was never asked about this in hustings she repeatedly made references to the contents of her office. She mentioned that she had been asked why a sign is not up in her office but rebuffed this saying “Did other presidents get questioned on the layout of their offices?” The sign that Ascough was referring to was a Vote for ME (Marriage Equality) sign that was sitting in the president’s office before she was elected. Rumours have spread that Ascough has removed this sign from her office. Ascough has failed to respond to questions from the University Observer about the removal of this sign.Ari Sheils, auditor of UCD’s LGBTQ+ Society had planned to ask a question at hustings and when they did not get the chance, they asked it directly to Ascough herself after hustings. Before the Pride Parade took place this summer the LGBTQ+ Society emailed Katie Ascough, as SU President, asking if she would join the society at Pride, as the society does every year. Ascough did not reply to this email and so Sheils asked her why. Ascough told them that "if they had seen her email list over the summer they would understand.” Sheils was surprised that Ascough implied that she has so many emails that she “couldn’t take the time to reply to an email that every other SU President, as far as I know, has managed to reply to.”It is tradition that the SU President is always asked to pride and Sheils said “We feel we do not have the full support of the SU if the president isn’t even engaging with us.”“Although the LGBTQ+ community is small, it is a community, it is one that is very reliant on the Welfare Officer and the SU to ensure that they’re getting the rights that they need and deserve.”“To me, the fact that she won’t support marriage equality, that she won’t even support us going to pride… just is very disheartening.” Sheils said that they did not know much on the issue of the marriage equality poster but that if it is the case that it has been removed, “I’d be concerned.”UCD students can vote yes or no to the impeachment of Katie Ascough on the 25th and 26th of October.