Candidates offer quiet alternative to the Union’s recent turbulent past

Last night’s annual hustings culminated in the race for the sabbatical positions of the Students’ Union. The event, held in the foyer of the Old Student’s Centre, played out to an audience almost entirely consisting of the members of candidates’ campaign teams.

Sole Campaigns and Communications candidate Katie O’Dea began by recounting her experience of being environmental campaign coordinator over the past year. In her speech she reiterated that the role of the SU is to be a voice for the students, and that it can't do that without engagement and proposed to work with the campaigns forum and college officers to hold Union events across campus, specifying that she would work with the new Inclusion & Diversity Coordinator to hold specific events in the future. O’Dea was questioned on her previous involvement leading campaigns and protests in the past. When asked whether she would facilitate the return of the Fashion Show, she made no promises to bring it back but stated that she would examine its feasibility taking into account issues surrounding its expense.

Graduate Officer candidate Conor Anderson was next to speak. His opponent Uthra Lakshmi was not present at Hustings. Anderson highlighted the exploitation of Masters and PhD students and vowed to be an advocate for them if elected. Despite this, he admitted that he has not yet gone to the Smurfit campus in person to discuss the issues of graduate students there.

The Welfare race saw George Merrin and Úna Carroll both questioned on previous engagement with the Union. Merrin defended his involvement with the Vote No to Impeachment campaign of former SU President Katie Ascough, stating that he feels that it would not alienate students from coming to him, but show pro-life students that he is approachable. Carroll, on the other hand, was questioned on her ability to take responsibility for her actions, specifically in relation to her dealings with the Disability Inclusion and Awareness Society. Carroll had previously told the society anything Irish Sign Language (ISL)-related had to go through her. She told the audience that a series of videos, funded by UCD’s student-staff social initiative programme SPARC, had been delayed due to SPARC staff leaving the university and because her third year was a busy one.

She told the audience that she stood by the statements made in her interviews with campus media and didn’t believe it was appropriate to bring personal text messages and tweets from Twitter into the discussion. A member of the audience then asked whether she stood by comments allegedly made which claimed that Carroll believes herself to be the more competent candidate because she is a woman. In response, she said that “as a human being I believe I am the most competent candidate for the role of Welfare Officer.”

Last year’s hustings debate was held in the A&L Goodbody Theatre in the Sutherland School of Law. In the wake of last year’s impeachment campaign, last year’s race saw more than twice as many presidential candidates running for election. Attendance at this year’s hustings was dramatically smaller than that of last year.

Our coverage of the presidential candidates will be online soon.