News In Brief

Evan O’Quigley reports on the UCD SVP taking part in Operation Christmas Child, while Katie Hughes reports on the SU Organising Extra-Hour Study Spaces for Students and Contingency Plans in Place for Snow.UCD’s St Vincent de Paul society, in conjunction with the Students’ Union, is taking part in ‘Operation Christmas Child’, a worldwide project that began in 1993 to help disadvantaged families during the holiday season.There will be a Christmas tree in the Student Centre, and one in the Library Building. On the trees there will be tags with the name, age and gender of a child, to indicate what type of gift would be suitable. Students will be able to take a tag and place a gift under the tree for the child in question.Auditor of UCDSVP Colm O’Mahony explained that the presents “go to kids in disadvantaged areas and it can really help; not only will it help the kids, but also help reduce the financial burden of parents. Christmas is expensive enough, and if you don't have a lot of money coming in this can really help people”. The gifts will go to children in the south inner-city area.UCD Welfare Officer Rachel Breslin is overseeing the project. “I know that students are really willing to help … they love to help people that were their own age once, and have been through Christmas, and know what a special time it is for children”.Extra-hour study spaces will be provided for students in the lead up to and during the upcoming Christmas exams. The plan is scheduled to commence on December 5th and close on December 21st.The study area will be located in the Student Centre, in either the Astra Hall or the Blue Room, with approximately thirty-five seats being available to students from 11pm to 3am on weekdays and from 8pm to 1am on weekends.The initiative was that of Students’ Union Education Officer Sam Geoghegan, who is “delighted” with the implementation of the extra study facilities, “hopefully students use it, it’s been a big push; it will be in the exam guide, which will be published in study week too, just to emphasise the importance of it”.Geoghegan is currently in talks with the library regarding the possibility of announcing the facility alongside the regular announcements which notify students that the library is closing, “if you want to continue studying you can go on there and there’ll be toilet facilities, vending machines and security and safety”.A member of the Student Centre staff will be present throughout the evening. The SU are going to be covering the costs of staff, “not all of the staff costs, they’re giving us a very considerable discount. Obviously the Student Centre are not going to pay their staff members into the all hours without getting a little back”.UCD have formed a contingency plan for end-of-semester exams should extreme weather conditions, public transport strikes or a medical epidemic interfere in the smooth running of end of semester exams.Students’ Union Education Officer Sam Geoghegan explained the reason behind their requesting such a plan be made, “the main point last year was the lack of communication and no-one really knew what was going on and it was such exceptional circumstances last year; if it happens again we want to be better prepared.”According to The Contingency Plans for UCD Registry for End-of-Semester Exams, “a group of key staff should convene as soon as the risk of examinations becomes known, the examinations process and dates are considered under serious threat when the non-attendance rate of the examination hall rises above five per cent”.  The group would then decide if and which examination sessions should be cancelled, allowing for a minimum notice of four hours to students and staff “if practical and possible”.It will be decided this week whether Students’ Union representatives will be a part of this group, although SU President Pat de Brún stated that “regardless of whether we sit on it, we’ll be privy to the conversation in an official capacity”.