Final year Law with Social Justice student, Amy Crean aims to lead the union towards greater activism if she is elected SU President.
Amy Crean is probably best known to the UCD student body as the woman who led the campaign to impeach former UCDSU President Katie Ascough. Where other presidential candidates focus on a mixture of improving the union and Ents, Crean focuses entirely on activism. She believes the point of the Students’ Union is “to lobby for better for the students. One of the reasons why I’m so passionate running is I think the union isn’t achieving what it’s supposed to.” Crean sees room for improvement “in terms of its political function and lobbying for better, whether that’s housing and accommodation or exam repeat fees.”
Regarding more effective lobbying, Crean would like to see the SU teaming up with lobby groups such as “Dublin Tenants Assocation. They’ve done a lot of work in the past few years, and in particular they fight against landlords who aren’t treating tenants fairly.” Crean has not spoken to this group about working together but would see it as an option that could be raised at one the group’s meetings which take place every second Tuesday.
Talking about the House Hunterz campaign the SU ran last summer Crean thinks it was not enough. “I think the idea was there, to highlight that housing is a problem we need to tackle, that’s not tackling it… We’re students, we know there’s a housing crisis… I would have liked to see teamwork with other housing organisations, and lobbying.”
Currently a Senior Residential Assistant, Crean thinks UCD is letting both RAs and students living on campus down by not providing adequate funding to mental health services. Crean explains that RAs are not equipped to “deal with students in severe difficulties. We’re not qualified counsellors, so not only are we out of our depth [when it happens], but we’re also not being given supports afterwards.” Crean believes the way to tackle this problem is to lobby the university to invest more in counselling services. “The university sees this as a health issue, and they’re saying they’re not going to invest more in counselling, but they need to.”
Crean wants to see social media utilised to promote motions that will be discussed at union council to encourage students to attend. “So on Facebook a post saying ‘have you lived on UCD residences because we’re going to be discussing fees next Monday, or the role of RAs.” Acknowledging that students who attend council have no speaking rights, Crean says that if a student contacts a member of council beforehand, they can have that member’s speaking rights passed over to them if they want to share their viewpoint on an issue being discussed.
The impeachment brought bad press to the union, and damaged its reputation, but Crean believes the impeachment “was a democratic issue, and I would like to see it viewed in a positive light… There are six people running for president this year… I think the impeachment got people engaging… It was an opportunity to get students listening again because there was a really high turnout for that referendum.”
Crean does not believe that she would be an ill-fit choice for president following her role in the impeachment campaign. “The impeachment was separate to me running for pres, I didn’t impeach to take that position. I would hope that it just demonstrates that I’m passionate about what unions are for, and what they should do.”
Crean was previously LGBTQ+ coordinator in the SU, and at the same time was auditor of the LGBTQ+ society. Due to Crean’s mismanagement of the society, committee members sought her resignation and she stepped down from the role. Crean says, “There were a variety of issues contributing to the fact that that was poorly managed on my behalf that no longer are issues,” and she believes her management ability has improved since then.
“It’s something of a concern, but I’m not going to let the fact that I’m away for the race restrict me from going for it, because I genuinely believe in changing the union.”
Part of the problem for Crean at the time was she had too many commitments, and the same could be said for her now, as she is currently in the USA, on a debating tour as a result of winning the Irish Times debating final. Crean will not be present on campus for the week of the elections, which falls after the two-week break and is the only period of campaigning that candidates will have.
While her absence from campaigning may be criticised by some, Crean does not feel she is at a disadvantage in the race for SU President. “It’s something of a concern, but I’m not going to let the fact that I’m away for the race restrict me from going for it, because I genuinely believe in changing the union.”
“This affects the race, it doesn’t affect the presidency. I would come back to the presidency with the experience of giving speeches and engaging in debates on a range of issues across the States.”