UCD Students’ Union has held meetings before and after Christmas to discuss the impact and practical reality of changes made to the Union’s Constitution in the complete Constitutional Review, which took place last year.
No major changes are expected as a result of the review, as any such amendments would require an individual referendum. According to UCD Students’ Union President, Rachel Breslin, this was “an auditing group to look at smaller things”.
This year the new Constitution has met with problems such as vacant Class Rep positions; low interest due to confusion, with 50.5% of filled seats uncontested; and a lack of clarity between UCRs (Union Council Representatives) and Class Representatives. Breslin believes that the new system will take a few years to become effective and the main aim of the review she says is “looking at ways of typing up the constitution now that we’ve seen it in operation for a year”.
A number of issues are being discussed, including the class rep system, the jurisdictions of a number of the College Conveners, as well as the effectiveness of the current system for voting to accept or reject officer reports.
While a number of students have queried the abolishment of the Campaigns and Communications Officer and Entertainments Officer positions, this issue will not be covered by the Constitutional Review as the Independent Appeals and Disciplinary Board deemed it to be “overstepping the bounds” as such a decision would have “big financial consequences” according to Breslin.
However, the group has discussed introducing a reporting mechanism to ensure the effectiveness of the elected members of the Campaigns Forum and the Entertainments Forum. Breslin explained that this will be necessary as “next year when those Officers are no longer in the Union, the Campaigns and Ents forum will really have to grow and take over a lot of responsibility.”
Breslin explained that this was just a review group and not a complete Constitutional overhaul. She concluded: “There’s not a huge amount that will change in this Constitution. I don’t think it’s right to rewrite a new constitution for the Union every year. It needs stability but at the same time, we’re trying to improve some small elements that have probably hindered us a little bit this year.”