News in Brief

UCD-Trinity University Challenge scheduled for after the midterm breakThe first ever UCD-Trinity University Challenge is expected to take place after the midterm break. Two rounds will be taking place – one in UCD, in April, and the other in Trinity, the date of which has yet to be confirmed.Profits raised from the initiative will go to the respective university’s St Vincent de Paul (SVP) society. In UCD, the funds raised will go to the Emergency Fund, which is administered by UCD SVP.Students will be charged to enter the competition individually. It will cost approximately three euro to take part in a trial, from which the top four students will be selected to represent the UCD panel. All students will answer the same questions at the same time, without the use of mobile devices, according to UCD Students’ Union Welfare Officer, Rachel Breslin.The quiz portion of the UCD event will be held in either the Astra Hall or Student Bar. Admission is expected to cost around ten euro.“I’ve been talking to people from the Trinity SVP and we’re looking at ways we can organise it and make sure that they have a free date. The way it’s going to work is that we do one competition and then they do another and then both universities hold a competition – one in UCD and one in Trinity.”€2,000 sponsorship for Cooking Competition from O2 Think Big and Headstrong O2 Think Big and Headstrong have given 2,000 euro to the annual Cooking Competition to allow the initiative to be run as not only a promotion of healthy eating, but also the benefits of this for students’ mental health.There are two stages to the competition – the first stage is one where students submit recipes, from which the top four will cook their inventions in the Atrium of the Student Centre on March 21st in the second stage, alongside a demonstration from Cooks Academy.The top four entries will receive a cookery-themed prize as well as a gadget, such as an iPod. The four entries, as well as several others chosen from the submissions, will appear in the UCD Cookbook, which is distributed to incoming first years students during their first week at the President’s Welcome.SU Welfare Officer Rachel Breslin confirmed that the competition will have an emphasis on mental health, “Headstrong and O2 Think Big have taken the direction of sponsoring mental health projects and for the next few months their direction is on healthy eating and the role that plays in mental health. We’re the first launch of that so they’re sponsoring our project and giving it money to make it bigger and to really emphasise the mental health aspect. We’ll be doing a lot on the day, at the cook-off, to give out mental health information or have a stand with someone from Headstrong talking about mental health and the connection between a healthy diet and overall wellbeing, including mental wellbeing.”Entries for the competition close on March 2nd. Social Science Ball raises €1,460 for UCD SVP Emergency Welfare Fund The Social Science Masquerade Ball was held on February 8th in the Arlington O’Connell Bridge Hotel. 1,460 euro was raised for the Emergency Welfare Fund, which is administered by UCD’s St Vincent de Paul Society.UCDSU Arts and Human Sciences Students’ Union Programme Officer, Mícheál Gallagher, organised the ball. He stated that the amount raised was more than he expected, “to be honest, I raised 200 euro more than I expected as I set the ticket prices quite low, at forty-five euro because I wanted to create a socially inclusive Social Science ball, so I was delighted to hear that it was such a success for charity as we kept the margins very tight.”High Court rules that UCC to make ex-gratia payment to former employee In a ruling issued on February 16th by the High Court, University College Cork (UCC) lost its appeal in a case it brought forward regarding the treatment of fixed-term contracts.A previous Labout Court decision was upheld by the ruling given by Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, which directed UCC to make an ex-gratia payment to a fixed-term worker, Dr Naomi Bushin, who had been made redundant. Dr Bushin had been employed as a full-time researcher working on a project funded by the European Union between 2006 and 2009. Following the completion of this project, she was made redundant and consequently received statutory redundancy entitlement.However, Dr Bushin argued that by not receiving an ex-gratia payment, she was not treated as fairly as a comparable permanent employee. The Labour Court used an employee from the third level sector to make this comparison. Following this, the Labour Court ordered UCC to pay Dr Bushin an ex-gratia payment of four weeks per year as well as statutory redundancy entitlement.In its appeal of the decision to the High Court, UCC argues that there was no comparable permanent employee available as no permanent employees had been made redundant.The Irish Federation of University Teachers were happy with the outcome, stating that it would set a precedent for other third-level employees.Protest against education cuts to be held in Galway on February 29th A march against all cuts to educational services is being held in Galway on February 29th. The march will commence at the NUIG campus and will continue to Eyre Square, where a rally will take place and Fine Gael TD, Brian Walsh, will be presented with a black wreath to symbolise the death of Irish Education.Secondary schools, teachers and parents, as well as students and anybody else affected by education cuts, have been invited to take part in the event. Organiser of the march, William O'Brien, stated that “we’re trying very hard to position this as a general march against all education cuts, it’s not just third level. We’re trying to get everybody involved with this.“It’s a solidarity march to assert the masses of people in the country that are firmly against education cuts. They’re all being affected in individual little ways and we’re trying to address this and look at the big picture and get everyone involved … I’m getting a very good reception from the people I’m talking to, especially secondary school kids and their parents – an awful lot of their parents are very supportive of the march. These are the people that suffer most under education cuts – they generally have to pick up the bill at the end of it.”Various other events will take place across the country on Wednesday as part of free Education for Everyone’s (FEE) national day of action against education cuts.Blood donation service great success541 students donated blood to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) during their five-day stay in the Astra Hall last week.Clinical Nurse Manager, Aileen Tevlin, described this turnout as “fabulous”. She explained that the turn-out was lower the last time the IBTS was in UCD due to signs advertising the event not being displayed correctly, leading to students being unaware that the donation clinic was taking place.The IBTS come to UCD twice every academic year, once in September or October and again shortly before exams. They do not come directly after the summer as students who visit the United States are unable to donate blood for twenty-eight days following their return.Overall, Ms Tevlin says that the event was a great success, with an exceptional turnout from students, “we’ve been very busy, it’s been a really great week.”