Confusion at Union Council as motion on constitutional referendum planned for next week

UCDSU Council members have voted to hold an "extraordinary council", next Monday 4th March to vote on a motion presented by UCDSU President Barry Murphy, on whether or not to call a referendum over changes proposed to the constitution.

The single motion took up more discussion time than any other business at the Council meeting, due to a large amount of members expressing their concerns over the proposed amendments that the constitutional review board put forward to council. A significant portion of the council meeting was then spent with members arguing whether they could accept individual amendments or propose amendments themselves to the constitution.

Some of the issues raised over the new constitution were made by class representative Niamh Plunkett, who told council that she wished for the accessibility to SU events to be included as part of the role of the Ents Officer, and not just of the "part-time" Disabilities Rights Coordinator. Murphy responded by informing council that ensuring SU events are accessible to all students falls under the duties of the Events and Marketing Manager, a full-time staff role.

Environmental Coordinator Katie O'Dea told council that she did not believe the new constitution was ready to be voted on by the student body, highlighting a number of spelling and grammatical errors within the document.

The Chair of the Council said that it was not in the remit of council to suggest their own amendments to the constitution, merely to vote on whether or not they accepted the amendments put forward to them by the constitutional review board.

Education Officer Stephen Crosby then informed council members that Murphy had failed to inform Council members of his motion to call a referendum with a week's notice, and under Article 6.6.2 of the current SU constitution, which states: "Notice of a referendum motion must be given to the members of Council at least one week in advance of the relevant Council meeting," rendered the motion moot.

Plunkett wished to state her dissatisfaction over how the proposed constitution was brought to council, stating that she felt she was in an awkward position over having to vote on "not having Ents Officer or to address the issues" she saw in the proposed document. Murphy told council that the "town hall" style meeting, held in semester one, was for council members to give him their feedback on the proposed changes, as Murphy has a seat on constitutional review board and is the only member of council who can propose changes to the board. However, because this was an informal meeting, as Murphy described it, council members were not mandated to attend.

As stated in the constitution, all changes to the constitution must be voted upon by members of UCD's student body. Amendments to the constitution were last ratified in 2015.

If the motion is passed at the council meeting on Monday, students will be asked to vote on whether or not to ratify the changes to the constitution alongside the executive elections of college officers and sabbatical officers.