Photo: James Healy

Lexi Kilmartin, currently Arts and Human Sciences Officer, is running uncontested for Education Officer. Her goals for the year include a revamped Culture Fair and a post-exam guide.

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Second year History and Politics student Lexi Kilmartin plans to utilise her experience as Arts and Human Sciences Officer to help her secure the position of Education Officer. She aims to learn from past Education Officers and policies in order to create longer term goals for the SU.

Kilmartin identifies the importance of representing students on the Academic Council, which she has already done for the last year as Arts and Human Sciences Officer. If elected Education Officer, she will continue to represent students on the Council. “I actually sat on the Academic Council this year in my role as Arts and Human Science Officer,” she says. “At the moment, one of the big ones coming up for Academic Council is an increase to 240 credits for all degree courses. So, that’s something I’ve been working on quite closely with Dannii [Curtis] this year because obviously it effects commerce and social science students quite a lot.”

Kilmartin feels that the SU is not always entirely focused on education, and hopes to change this if elected. “I think it’s been a difficult environment for the Education Officer to work in this year because the Union wasn’t very education focused, which is something I really do want to change, because the primary function of the Union [is as] instigator for the education demands of the students.”

One area that Kilmartin hopes to improve upon is the culture fair. “The idea behind that initially was very similar to what I want to propose as a study abroad fair. And I think where that fell down was she wasn’t able to get in as many of the schools, as many of the universities in order to be able to showcase proper study abroad options.” Kilmartin aims to make the culture fair bigger for the year ahead.

In terms of continuity, Kilmartin looks to revive some older policies that have been implemented by past Education Officers. “I think it’s important to have a bit of continuity in the Education Office. I want to revive some of the older policies, particularly a few policies from Amy Fox’s year that I think are good policies but would be better if there’s a bit of strategic development and we implement a strategic plan for the next few years at the Education Office. I think that would benefit the students overall.”

One of the ideas Kilmartin outlines in her manifesto is to introduce a peer assisted learning scheme. She explains that incentives will be offered to older students who would help younger students, suggesting coffee vouchers as a possible plan. “It would be mostly done through an online campaign because it almost exists informally on a personal basis,” she says.

Social media is critical in her initiative to start an education blog, which she also lists in her manifesto. However what she intends to do is closer to a Facebook ‘like’ page where students could see updates from the Education Office, as she explains. “It’s more feasible to do a five line Facebook update of “this is what’s going on at the moment in UCD” than a 1500 word blog post.”

Kilmartin is also conscious of the long waiting times for the programme offices, and she has plans to try to combat the queues. This comes in the form of registration clinics run by the SU. “Ideally it would be myself, if I was the Education Officer, alongside the Graduate Officer, to man them mostly, plus whoever else wants to help. But they would be in discussion with Registry so we’re not giving out false or incorrect information.” She feels that “if it helps twenty people, then it is still worth doing.”

In terms of career development and post-exam support, Kilmartin has a number of goals and ideas. A relationship with networking website Jobbio is near completion, giving UCD students an additional avenue for part and full-time employment. She also plans to run LinkedIn workshops to improve student engagement with the service. Getting information to students is critical for Kilmartin, as surmised in her “post exam” guide she wishes to publish, similar to the guide created this year, which would help explain concepts like degree compliance and GPA weighting. She describes it as “one easy-to-read pamphlet [that says] ‘this is what you need to know.”

To help students get part-time work, as well as develop their careers, Kilmartin plans to have two alternative career fairs during the year. The emphasis will be on Irish businesses, alongside charities and graduate programmes.

Remaining realistic is a key factor in Kilmartin’s ambitions. She intends to tackle co-ordinating deadlines for student assignments to alleviate the pressure at mid-term and the end of the semester. It’s unlikely that the plan will be able to be rolled out across the entire university, but in her role as Arts and Human Sciences Officer, she has been working to pilot a scheme in the Arts programme to reduce the amount of deadlines that coincide with each other. She explains that this would be done through the most common subject combinations.

Kilmartin’s believes re-joining the USI should be left in the hands of the students, and her own opinion has no effect on the matter. She feels her potential role and initiatives would not change drastically, regardless of the result of the upcoming referendum on the topic.

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A Well Researched Campaign

Lexi Kilmartin’s campaign to be Education Officer is a strong one. While her manifesto is often vague, she shows that behind the manifesto is a well thought out and surprisingly well researched campaign. Of all the nominees for sabbatical positions, Kilmartin has put the most work into achieving and researching her goals for the year. She is close to completing her project with jobs website Jobbio, and has already met with all the heads of schools in the Arts and Human Sciences faculty to work on her deadline coordination plan.

On the other hand, some of her ideas are derivative. Her ‘post exam guide’ was made this year by current SU Education Officer, Dannii Curtis. The same guide was previously made by Curtis when she was with Arts Society the year before. Her idea for an education blog was previously promised by Curtis, however it has not materialised under her tenure. It is also worth noting that what she has suggested is not actually a blog, but rather a forum for posting updates. Some of her ideas are also likely to be too much to take on for her and the Union. Alleviating the burden on programme offices is a noble goal, but one that could result in constant queues in the SU corridor, preventing her, and other officers, from doing other work they’re supposed to be doing. Even if all five sabbatical officers committed to helping students with their registration, it is also unlikely that they would make a major difference to the queues at programme offices. Similarly, co-ordinating deadlines is an excellent idea, but one that is likely to be extremely difficult to implement across the University.