Psychology H-Dip student Niall Torris is running uncontested for the position of Graduate officer, as he looks to provide better integration for students and more national campaigns.

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PSYCHOLOGY student Niall Torris is running to be Graduate officer on a platform integrating post-grads more easily to UCD and a focus on a national campaigns.

One of these ideas is based around his “PG Tips”, which he explains as something similar to “Dear First Year Me” for post-grads. According to Torris “being a student that came from another college to UCD to study as a postgrad there’s something that I struggled with adapting to, how things are going on in UCD…A post-grad student who has been to UCD already and continues to study in UCD doesn’t need tips…I think that that Dear First Year Me model was very successful.”

The Dear First Year Me campaign is based on older students writing tips for younger students. Torris does recognise that it might be difficult to involve post-grads to provide tips, though does believe the key is offering casual ways to interact with union. “I think those people have made a decision in their life to come here to get a degree… so for people who would be more interested I think those things like coffee mornings are way better.”

While Torris’ outline looks to provide more support to post-grads, he doesn’t feel that creating a stronger community feel is entirely possible for graduate students; “The dynamic way in which undergraduates interact really can’t exist [for] post-grads because you’ve got family obligations, you’re probably working… a lot of undergraduates don’t have that.”

The dynamic way in which undergraduates interact really can’t exist [for] post-grads

Despite this, Torris does offer some suggestions for how post-grads can be encouraged to socialise in a more relaxed atmosphere. He outlines potential coffee mornings on his manifesto but very few specific post-grad events, though he does reference the possibility of bringing back a Post-grad Ball. Torris explains “I was trying to look at what are a couple of simple basic things that could be set up that people can engage with casually as they want.” Torris points out that post grads can include students doing H-Dips to PhDs, so feels that it’s very difficult to unite all of these interests.

Torris does feel however, that there are a number of issues that directly affect post-grads but not undergraduates. “I think the main national issue for postgrads is the fact that there is a lack of any real grant system at all. If you do get a grant it’s usually woefully insufficient… there needs to be more lobbying on it,” he explains.

Though he does point out that, “as a graduate officer it can sometimes look like less of a priority because all of your students who are here who are maybe here for one year they’ve already paid ‘you’re not really helping me with this, so why are you putting so much pressure into this?”

Noting that many students could be moving to Dublin for the first time, Torris sees accommodation as particularly important for post-grad, citing his own experience as being very difficult. He also sees wider social issues like Repeal the 8th as impacting post-grads.

Torris emphasises a focus on national issues for post-grads, noting the possibility of working with the Union of Students’ in Ireland and the Irish Post-graduates Forum. He also draws attention to the mandate in the Students’ Union constitution that directs the Graduate officer to campaign on national issues.

The main national issue for postgrads is the fact that there is a lack of any real grant system at all

Another aspect on Torris’ manifesto looks to get extended hours and space for post-grads in the library. He claims there should be more space for people to study, potentially securing space at busier times of the year. Torris would look to expand the designated post-grad space in the library, particularly around the times that people are submitting a thesis. Though he does note that there are many libraries in UCD; “we think of just the James Joyce Library and there’s a lot of library space on the two campuses that could be utilized better or advertised.”

Despite drawing attention to the Graduate officer’s mandate in the constitution, Torris does not detail any plans for an Education or Careers fair, which is something that is also mandated. He explains that “I didn’t put anything like that [on] my manifesto because I simply did not know enough about organizing a thing like that.” Though he did highlight the possibility of working with other bodies with UCD; “we have a great career’s office here…I’d love to work with them specifically to organize events like that and they have a great knowledge about that kind of stuff.”

On joining USI, Torris notes that there are a number of positives which he saw during his time as Carlow College SU President.