Current Students’ Union President Barry Murphy hopes to use his experience to maintain pressure on university management to achieve union goals if re-elected.
Barry Murphy, an Environmental Biology student, is the current president of the Students’ Union, and he is running for a second term as he believes the union needs someone experienced in the position. Last year, Murphy ran for the role of Campaigns & Communications officer on a platform of environmental issues, he has only been in the position of President since November following the by-election.
“The role of President is of leadership. It’s about guiding a team of staff and sabbatical officers, a team of college officers, class reps, and campaign coordinators, and the Ents forum. It’s about being that person that people look up to.” As President, Murphy says he has been trying to not get in the mindframe of being “the boss.” “I do a thing on a Friday where I try my best to get around to hoovering the floor of the office, and that keeps me grounded… and I don’t think I’m above anyone else.”
“I try my best to get around to hoovering the floor of the office, and that keeps me grounded.”
On his manifesto, Murphy focuses on his experience, and his achievements this year, citing the ‘House Hunterz’ campaign where the union brought attention to the housing crisis, recruiting “the largest number of class reps in recent history,” and working on consent and the Repeal the 8th campaign.
Murphy says on his manifesto that the union has restored its reputation following the impeachment last semester. To continue repairing the reputational damage, Murphy wants “to make the union relevant to students’ lives… by showcasing the work we do, showing people that you can get involved, from highlighting the crisp sandwich-making workshop to knowing about the casework we do… At the moment, the vast majority of students here in UCD do not feel part of their Students’ Union.”
As a returning sabbatical officer, Murphy believes he would be able to maintain pressure on UCD management, and achieve his goals more readily, as he thinks in the past management stop taking sabbatical officers seriously in semester two. “In June, when you become a sabbat, university management listen to all your ideas and your agenda and they look at your manifesto and they promise you the world. They say we’ll achieve this for you and that for you, we’ll set up this committee to get that over the line… I’m already starting to witness since February they’re starting to drop initiatives brought by the other sabbats and by myself, because they know a new team is on the way.”
If re-elected president, Murphy’s main plan is to continue maintaining pressure on management to achieve affordable on campus accommodation, and other union goals, but he has few new ideas to implement. One idea is about the counselling service in UCD. Regarding the long waiting list, “what I see as the solution… is creating a triage within the mental health service. What I’ve learned about what slows down and holds up the waiting list is that sometimes students get counselling appointments that may not need to see a counsellor.” Currently, when students sign up for counselling, their first appointment is with a counsellor. The triage Murphy explains, would be a “highly-qualified person,” who Murphy believes would be “the most important person in the counselling service. “They’re not a diagnoser, but they would figure out who the student may need to see” whether that means a counsellor, student adviser, the Education officer, or going to their programme office.
When asked if he supports a boycott of Aramark on UCD campus, Murphy says “yes, but there are conditions attached to that… There are 24 people working in the global lounge restaurant. Some are UCD staff, some are Aramark staff. UCD has no obligation to rehire the Aramark staff.”
“I was so tired of being in newspaper articles. I was so tired of having that much attention on me and being scrutinised that much.”
While running for president in the by-election last semester, Murphy had said he would not run for the role of President in the current sabbatical elections. At the time, some viewed his running as linked to the impeachment, with the view that he campaigned for impeachment, so he could be President. His opinion at the time was that he would be happy to leave being able to say: “I have set this place up with a team, that there is an energetic and passionate team of staff and sabbats... Our reputation is revived, that we can go forward.”
Murphy is asked what’s changed since then, and if his change of mind might be viewed as disingenuous to the student body. He responds saying, “I hope students can appreciate that that was a different time. We had come through a period where we were in the eye of a storm, and I was so tired of being in newspaper articles. I was so tired of having that much attention on me and being scrutinised that much. At that time, I wanted to do my best as President for the rest of the year. Now, Murphy says he is enjoying the role. “This is a completely different time, I now see my ability to do it. I now see what I can achieve going forward.”
For students who are less trusting of Murphy’s intentions, and who may seem as power-hungry, Murphy hopes he can “win them over, just by telling them my side of the story.”