Science student Eoghan Mac Domhnaill believes that proper promotion and advertising of campaigns across campus will increase engagement between students and the Union.
RUNNING uncontested for this year’s welfare position, Eoghan Mac Domhnaill. a third-year science student, has previously been vice-Auditor of Cumann Gaelach, Treasurer of the Sinn Fein society, as well as the SU Residences Co-Ordinator. He believes that, “the most important role for the Welfare Officer is to be the person who cares. You’re not doing it for the glamour of the job. You really do have to give a damn.”
One problem that has consistently troubled previous Unions is a lack of awareness and engagement with the student body. Mac Domhnaill is aware of this issue, agreeing that, “It was a big problem this year. If you’re not within the union, or in this [student centre] a lot, a lot of people just forget.”
Mac Domhnaill believes that the key to improving this is to start with first years. Indeed, much of his manifesto focuses on incoming students, promoting a number of initiatives towards them. This includes Mental Health Week, which Mac Domhnaill proposes to move to the first semester. Explaining why he’s targeting first years specifically, he reasons that, “We all know those opening few weeks; it’s something we can all identify with. You’re coming from home and you’ve lost the support of families.”
The most important role for the Welfare Officer is to be the person who cares.
As part of the week, Mac Domhnaill wants to, “get more prominent speakers in, especially aimed at men — the people who make you think, ‘wow, if he’s able to open up and talk, that means it’s okay for me.’ Suicide is most prevalent amongst young men. We do find that we grow up with, ‘be a man.’ I’m trying to break that down.”
Another campaign that would find itself geared towards first years is consent classes, as Mac Domhnaill wants to introduce them as part of the UCD Residences programme. Sexual consent classes have been a contentious issue this year. First announced in February 2016, the Union decided just last month to cancel the remaining classes due to lack of interest. Mac Domhnaill admits that, “the problem this year was we went for everyone and nobody came. That’s why I went for the residences. It’s start small, get big. In Residences alone, though, in four years we’d have 7,000 people in UCD who’ve gone through it, so I’d look at that as a win.”
Another issue that Mac Domhnaill wants to raise awareness of is the increased use of non-prescribed medication, particularly around exam time. “We saw this year that study drugs are so rampant,” he explains, “It’s the fact that they’re going to be taken. It’s letting people know that if you are going to take this, this is what you’re taking — this is what can happen to you. It’s not advocating the use, but it’s just making sure people know what they’re doing. It’s not going to stop the people who are taking them already, but it might have a chance of preventing people who are thinking about doing it.”
We saw this year that study drugs are so rampant.
Mac Domhnaill also raises the issue of the gender pay gap in his manifesto. While not directly concerning student welfare within UCD, he believes that, “we should be looking at when you get out of college, focusing on your welfare out there. I think we do have to be active and tell politicians to cop on, because we’re classifying ourselves as a really progressive country but some fundamental things are really wrong.”
In terms of advocating for fundamental rights, Mac Domhnaill has further pledged his full support for LGBTQ+ issues, and promises to work closely with UCD for Choice. “The LGBTQ+ Co-Ordinator will hopefully be a central part of the welfare crew,” he explains, while he also confirms that, “I’ve been speaking to UCD for Choice, and I’ve told them I’ll be completely behind them in everything they do.”
It’s for the people to come to us, and we go to the people for their problems.
Keen to continue his promotion of Irish, Mac Domhnaill intends to introduce the Turas Tae. Although coffee-mornings are a regular fixture across campus, he maintains that this is, “primarily going to people and just giving them tea. It’s for the people to come to us, and we go to the people for their problems, instead of them having to trek all the way over [to the student centre].”
At the core of his campaign, Mac Domhnaill insists that raising awareness and advertising campaigns properly is key. He intends to have increased poster-ing for all his initiatives including Mental Health Week, sexual consent classes, study drug awareness, LGBTQ+ issues, UCD for Choice, as well as Shag Week, Safe Walk, and student finance issues. Ultimately, he believes, it is this promotion that will increase engagement and interest between students and the union.