It seems impossible, inhuman even, for a group of people who spend so much time together not to become friends. Similarly, most groups tend to require certain guidelines for entry.In order to make an impact and acquire a position as a Sabbatical Officer, it can be assumed that certain skills – oratorical competence, friendliness, and political nous – are imperative. Consequently, like most coveted positions, there is a certain degree of exclusivity attached to the role. Not just anyone can become a Sabbatical Officer.Yet complaints about the SU being an ‘old boys club’ (both literally and figuratively) cannot be easily dismissed. Essentially, the underlying problem, which leads some to question the credibility of the Students’ Union, is inextricably linked with the issue of student voting.Last year, roughly 4,300 students voted in the SU Elections – a paltry figure and one that amounted to a turnout which was 20 per cent less than the previous year. Admittedly, this can be partly attributed to the fact that three of the Sabbatical positions last year were uncontested. However, to extrapolate the implications of the aforementioned figures, as part of a feature investigating students’ attitudes towards the Union, our reporter had to go out of her way to find and interview students who genuinely seemed to care about its workings.Moreover, many of those who do vote can hardly be said to be doing so with the interests of the student body in mind. Anyone who has ever walked through buildings in Science or Arts on voting day knows the level of farce that often characterises proceedings.Some students vote purely out of personal allegiance to the candidate (or someone on their campaign team), while campaigners hassling students until they relent and somewhat reluctantly vote for the candidate in question is another common practice. All of which underpins the broad student apathy that in turn brings into question the relevance of the Union.If UCDSU is truly worthy of the praise that it often lavishes upon itself, if it truly is “the best Students’ Union in the country,” as has been claimed, then surely a concerted effort must be made to discourage elitism, to actively promote political engagement and to ensure the voter turnout increases substantially in the forthcoming elections. Its credibility as an organisation depends on it.And regardless of how many posters, manifestos or cheesy online videos which candidates promulgate, the ultimate success or failure of next year’s SU lies with you, the student. Therefore, it is imperative to think carefully before registering your vote. Students only have themselves to blame for the general disillusionment that arguably exists with the status quo. And the only way to alleviate this frustration is to scrutinise the manifestos, pay attention to the campus media, and question the campaigners.And while last year’s voting turnout was alarmingly low, there remains legitimate scope for optimism this year. For instance, there are 14 candidates actively running in this year’s Students’ Union Elections – precisely double the amount of candidates that ran last year, a figure which would have been even higher had a series of technicalities not reduced the overall number.Incredibly, no woman has been elected into the SU since 2007. However, there are now a record number of women running, while they will be represented in at least one of the positions unless the RON (Re-Open Nominations) vote intervenes. The elections thus represent a vast opportunity to achieve gender equality in student representation.Lastly, the record numbers of those voting in the recent general election – including a significantly high portion of young people – creates further cause for optimism. If university is a microcosm of society, then surely this trend will be mirrored over the next few days.Yet the choice, as ever, solely remains with all the students to vote to achieve a truly representative student body.
I got into the fashion show, so it’s definitely open to everyone. Ents candidate, Stephen Darcy, rejects claims that the UCD Fashion Show is in any way exclusive. I’ll be the kind of welfare officer that you can ring at any point in the day. If you’re stuck out in Balbriggan, and you need a lift, if you’re in danger, I’ll be there for you.Welfare candidate, Lorna Danaher, outlines the lengths she is willing to go to in order to help students.You sign up at Freshers’ Week.Ents candidate, Robert Manning, responds to the question of how you become a member of UCDSU.The Observer’s great!Welfare candidate, Regina Brady, does not in any way trying to influence our analysis of her. My manifesto’s a comic book.Ents candidate, Darragh Kinsella, responds to the question of what distinguishes his candidacy. As for education, I don’t even know who’s running anymore – it’s so confusing. Ents candidate, Edel Ni Churraoin, sums up the general feeling surrounding the Education race.