Social Science graduate and current Campaigns and Communications Officer, Thomas Monaghan is running for the position of Entertainments Officer with the Union as, during this past year, he found himself “leaning a lot more towards the events side of SU life, because it was really what I was drawn to and what I was good at as well…I just really have a passion for events management.” Monaghan has two years experience with the Ents forum, having “helped the Ents crew flyer for the Freshers’ Ball” in his first few weeks in UCD, while going on to “manage the company on an interim basis.” Monaghan mentioned that he sought a lot of advice before running for the role, naming former Entertainments Manager Paul Kilgallon as a “huge role model”, and said that he “wanted to be him as much as I could, because he gave so much back to the students.”
With the amendments to the constitution, the Ents forum will now have a place on council and be mandated to attend and submit reports. Monaghan mentioned his efforts in establishing Ents reps for this year’s events in volunteering, holding interviews with the reps for this year as a way to create interest among students. “I feel if you have a responsibility to the person rather than the cause, people will tend to come and help out a lot more…I think that going through that interview process really gave the students more of a responsibility towards myself and towards the company.” When it comes to chairing the Ents forum and encouraging coordinators to attend council, Monaghan said “I’m going to make it very clear that council is mandatory for you to come to, just as I have said to the class reps during my time as Campaigns and Communications Officer. As Ents Officer, I’m going to be very focused on both spheres in the Students’ Union, both political and events focused, but I’m going to motivate the people involved in strictly the entertainments side to come to council and have your voice heard.”
Within his manifesto, Monaghan lists plenty of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic events that we would like to organise. In relation to the All-Ireland Beer Pong competition, Monaghan has been in contact with both DCU and Trinity Student Unions on this event during the year, “every time I’ve pitched this idea to people I’ve been canvassing, the first reaction I get is ‘oh’, it automatically appeals to them, and I’ve been talking to a huge amount of international students, particularly from the US, where beer-pong is very popular. They were 100% absolutely going to get behind it.” Monaghan intends to have students pay €10 for a team of two to participate, all of which will be donated to the selected charity, believing that the Student Unions will pay for travel and accommodation for students to attend the finals. He would also like to bring back the outside screenings on that Quad and student DJ advice events as non-alcoholic events on campus.
During the final council of semester two, council mandated the SU to pursue the possibility of holding a collaborative RAG Week with other universities. This is a point Monaghan has included in his manifesto, acknowledging the negative perception of RAG week in Dublin, and believes that the Union can work towards a Dublin City RAG Week, where each university hosts an event and invites the other two universities “instead of running RAG Week at a loss every year, when we could have just donated what we lost to charity in the first place.” This would require all Student Unions to select the same charities to raise money for, which Monaghan mentioned would be a potential roadblock. Alternatively, Monaghan suggested the possibility of having events in during Fresh Fest as charity events, which could potentially increase the cost for the Union.
Questions were raised over how Monaghan’s campaign has been run, specifically over an endorsement he received from Ryan’s Pub in Camden Street and over “sexist” comments made by Monaghan on social media. Monaghan told the University Observer that he contacted the Returning Officer, Michael Foley, before that endorsement was made, and according to Monaghan, Foley said that he had “no issue” with this.
The comment from Monaghan said: “Hey UCD Rants, why don’t you call in to the SU next week? I heard they give out free tampons at reception.” When asked if he had anything to say about the comments made online, Monaghan read a prepared statement from a notebook he brought into the interview, stating:
“I can definitely see why people may have been offended and I apologise to anyone that was, because it was not my intention whatsoever. At the time, my intention was to stand up to an online bully, who regularly harasses and intimidates students just for the sake of a couple of likes; while also simultaneously, making a large demographic of students, who may not be engaged with the Students’ Union, aware that these fantastic services are available. People seem to know an awful lot more about the free condoms than they do about the other services that are available as well.
I was upset that an anonymous bully has used a large platform to insult and down-talk the students, the volunteers, and the staff who put blood, sweat and tears, grit, passion and determination into what was the most successful event that UCD has ever seen. But to reiterate, I did not mean to offend and to anyone who was, I do apologise.”