Exec minutes reveal uproar over cancelled SU events

UCDSU Welfare Officer Melissa Plunkett expressed her outrage over the postponing of the “It Stops Now” roadshow campaign against sexual harassment and assault, recently released minutes from the 6th UCDSU executive forum show. Plunkett described as “insane” the move to push the campaign to semester 2 as the “campaign just launched”, stating that, as the contact for the campaign, it was “frustrating to not know what’s going on”.

UCDSU President Barry Murphy told the Executive Forum that UCDSU “don’t have the capacity to run it before exams” and that “it needs to be run properly.” The minutes note that President Murphy was “tasked with [organising] the roadshow” alongside Head of Student Advisory Services Aishling O’Grady.

Murphy told the executive forum that the roadshow “will go from building to building...over three consecutive days.” He mentioned the inclusion of the Registrar, Prof Mark Rogers; UCD President Prof Andrew Deeks and Tierney staff, before moving on to the O’Brien Centre of Science “with Professor Joe Carthy, Emily [Bollard] and class reps.”

The “It Stops Now” roadshow by UCDSU was originally to be organised in the 2nd and 3rd week of January according to Murphy, but no such roadshow video was produced during the SU’s Sexual Health and Guidance (SHAG) Week, which ran from 13th-14th of February. Plunkett expressed frustration as she had requested to be involved with the organisation of the roadshow.

USI affiliated universities launched a video on their social media platforms, featuring “consent murals” from across the different third level institutes. UCD’s mural was removed in semester 1 by Estate Services after the initial launch of the national “It Stops Now” campaign launched in October 2018.

Minutes also reveal exasperation over the cancellation of an event between the Union, the Access and Lifelong Learning (ALL) Centre and the Literary & Historical Society. Records from the meeting which took place on 1st October 2018, show Plunkett mentioned in her report that an event with the Access and Lifelong Learning Centre in UCD would “discuss inequalities on campus and...highlight and celebrate the work UCD ALL does in these areas.” This event was originally intended to “be run in cooperation with the L&H with a debate night and motion on the issue.”

A lack of resources and time were cited by President Barry Murphy as to the cancellation of the collaborative house debate between the Union and the Literary and Historical Society (L&H) during the Access and Lifelong Learning (ALL) Week on the 27th November. Speaking to The University Observer, Murphy said "we brainstorm ideas for events internally and externally in conjunction with societies regularly. While many events come to fruition others remain in the brainstorming phase. Sometimes they are not viable or we do not have the resources to make them become viable at that time."

However, correspondence between the SU and the L&H show that a draft programme was suggested, containing a time and date, motion for the floor and format for the event. The correspondence also shows that Dr. Anna Kelly from the ALL centre told Murphy and Plunkett that she would "investigate the attendance of senior University representatives and revert to you. We will provide the food, and speaker gifts."

Auditor Ella McLoughlin contacted Murphy on the 31st October to enquire on "any update regarding the ALL debate," and received a reply from Plunkett who apologised for the lack of "adequate information to organise this debate." Plunkett stated in the email "when I asked Barry about it he assured me that you [the L&H] were handling it." Plunkett then provided McLoughlin with the draft programme that was sent to her by Dr. Kelly for the event.

McLoughlin soon contacted both Plunkett and Murphy to raise concerns she had over the a time clash with the Lawsoc house debates and the wording of the motion. "We would have a very hard time finding guests to run the opposition (ie; University should not be open to all). We could run something more specific? 'This House believes financial support is the best way to have access for all' for example, and advertise it as 'The Access for ALL debate.'" McLoughlin asked if the Access Centre wanted "mostly student speakers or guest speakers?" to which she received no reply.

The University Observer reached out to both the L&H and Dr.Kelly in the Access Centre for comment, but had received no reply at the time of publication.

Though the minutes from last week’s Student Council have not been published, pending approval at the next meeting, Law College Officer Edward Leonard voiced his disagreement with Murphy over members of the executive forum not being included in the deliberations over the cancellation of the UCD Fashion Show. The Fashion Show is an event organised by UCDSU, Student Services and a dedicated committee, and was scheduled for the 10th and 11th of April in the Winging it in UCD handbooks this year.

Minutes from the remaining Executive forum and Student Council meetings have yet to be published, as the SU are constitutionally obliged to once the minutes have been approved.