Class Representative elections sees low engagement and technical difficulties

UCDSU Class Representative elections ran from Monday, October 4th to Friday, October 8th.

The elections have the objective of choosing a representative for each class to sit on the Students’ Union Council, held every two weeks during term. According to Article 8.1 of UCDSU’s Constitution, the duties of a Class Rep include “attending meetings of Union Council and committees of which they are members, regularly inform their constituents of any initiatives or campaigns being undertaken by the Union, take an active role in the formation of Union policy in the interests of their constituents, and to organise social activities for their constituents and work to create a positive social environment for their class”. 

This year’s election saw a decline in the number of Class Representatives: this year 126 Class Reps were elected, while in 2020 and 2019 the number of Class Reps were 146 and 135, respectively. There was a total of 19 contested constituencies. When approached for comment regarding student participation on this years’ elections, UCDSU Campaigns & Engagement Officer Darryl Horan, stated that UCDSU “would have liked to see an uptick in the number of class representatives considering the considerable work myself and the sabbatical team put in. There was just under 12,000 class forms [for nomination as a class rep] handed out at orientation, over 200 lecture addresses and 6 videos produced. Unfortunately, we were constrained in that nominations closed just as first years finished their first week on campus due to the government decision to push first year entry to university back two weeks. Despite these limits though we are looking forward to running a scaled up by-election campaign in the coming weeks”. 

Voting had also needed to be extended to last the entirety of the week due to a technical issue with online voting. The webpage was directing voters back to the registration page after they'd clicked on log in, despite already having registered.

UCDSU online voting is managed by a company called Membership Solutions Ltd (MSL). UCDSU have been using MSL since the executive elections in 2020, the first UCDSU election since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Voters faced technical issues in both that election, and in registering online for the 2021 executive elections, prior to this election.

On the topic of the technical issues, Horan stated “We are deeply apologetic for the difficulties students faced with the election portal. We aim in the short term to have these resolved for by-election, and in the long term towards executive elections undergo a review of how UCD Students' Union runs its elections both physically and online”.

MSL were contacted by The University Observer for comment on October 6th, shortly after becoming aware of the issue. At time of printing they had not responded to the request for comment.

The list of elected class representatives is now available through the UCD Students Union website.