Graduate: Conor Anderson - “Pushing the Graduate Officer forward”

Conor Anderson, is currently pursuing a Masters in World Heritage Management and Conservation through the school of Archaeology. He currently serves as the class representative for this course.

While he has a passion for unions and the work that they do, and despite his work as class representative bringing him onto the council for the student union, he is seemingly unclear of certain key aspects of the role he is applying for. When questioned, he was able to name two of the three boards on which the Graduate Officer is mandated to sit, despite checking his notes before responding. As well as this, when asked who sat at council and who had speaking rights, he did not mention campaigns coordinators, to which both criteria apply.

Anderson also was unable to answer when questioned on how much time the Graduate officer was mandated to spend on the Smurfit campus per week, a key aspect of the role which has proven to be a contentious issue for his predecessors at times. He thus was unable to answer the latter half of the question, which was whether or not he would expand the hours required as per the constitution of the students union, which currently stands at one day a week.

In relation to the Smurfit campus, one of the main aspects of Anderson’s manifesto regards increasing engagement between the Union and Smurfit Ambassadors. When questioned on how he intended to do this, he replied that he would let the Ambassadors guide the process, saying that “their system seems to be working pretty well”, and that he would simply allow for greater communication, as he had heard that a member of the team had approached Torris with an idea earlier in the year, the specifics of which he had no information on.

However, he does clearly have a passion for the role, with engagement and advocacy both being mentioned throughout his interview and his manifesto. He mentioned several times that advocacy was at the heart of the role and engagement is at the core of his manifesto. He states that he wishes to make “the role more relevant” and spoke at length about how this is inspired by his own experience as an international postgraduate student who found it difficult to establish a social network before he got involved with the union. Due to this, he wishes to expand the work the union does to reach out to postgraduate students by expanding the realm of graduate specific events on campus. He believes that through this, not only will the union increase its engagement with postgraduate students, it will also aid postgraduate students find a network on campus through which to socialise. However, he also stated that he does not feel that this lack of engagement lies solely with the union, as postgraduate students are “just busy, we’re really really busy”.

When asked how he planned to balance planning and organising events with the preexisting aspects of the role, namely time spent on case work, his response was simple: “Time management”. He continued, saying that he had “tricks and tips” which helped him to keep on top of his workload this year, which he is assured will continue to help him if elected, remarking: “I haven’t turned in an assignment late yet”. However, he has no ideas more specific than networking events, and no outline for when or where they might happen, although he did say that he wanted to prioritise events at the start of semester when new students are arriving.

His lack of specific information was a running theme throughout the interview, with Anderson saying early on that “during the changeover, over the summer, that’s where I’ll get the in-depth knowledge.” He backed this up by referring to his ten years of industry experience, showing that he might have an easier time picking up the technicalities.

When asked about how he perceived his predecessor’s time, Anderson spoke positively about Torris’ role in ensuring that the new e-thesis programme was due to be run in house, and overall viewed Torris’ actions as Graduate Officer favourably. When asked if he would do anything differently, he responded that he would simply “build on what he’s done and just expand it”, with an emphasis on expanding public knowledge of the role and continuing to prioritise case work and advocacy.

Anderson currently does not have a stance on UCD joining the USI, however he feels he “probably will”. Anderson does not endorse any other candidates, however he did take the opportunity to compliment his opponent, Uthra Lakshmi Dharani.