Breathing a sigh of relief after last week’s referendum result, Jess Quinn looks back over the controversial campaign.
HAPPY exam season, UCD amigos. It’s time to realise that there is actually more to university than societies, group chats, campaigning, or whatever college clique you have fallen into. The biannual pilgrimage to the RDS is almost upon us. Here are some directions to the Roofed Despair of Students: take a left on the Stillorgan Road. Get the Aircoach. Go to the airport. Flee the country. Don’t come back. Get a good night’s sleep beforehand.
Although its not all doom and gloom here at UCD. The Referendum for UCDSU to be neutral on their stance for repealing the 8th did not pass! So UCDSU can maintain their reputation for being at the forefront of pushing social change. In 1979, the sale of condoms without a prescription was illegal. Our SU, knights in slippery latex armour, put themselves on the line by selling rubbers regardless of the legislation against it. SU’s got you covered.
Following that, UCDSU in 1988 won a huge legal battle with The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) that went as far as The European Court of Justice. SPUC threatened legal action against the SU if they published information about abortion services in their Welfare Guide. So what did they do? They published it anyway. Legends. Thug Life theme music plays.
That’s a different SU than the one we have today. Condoms are thrown at students and no one bats an eyelid. Except from being momentarily blinded by the design graphics of ‘Winging It in UCD’. Despite my criticism, it is still something to be proud of. The tradition of challenging the system needs to be maintained. Our current SU may just look like a bunch of blue t-shirt wearing bobble heads, but it’s important that we do not forget the power of the student voice. Although I still don’t think that voice should be used for busking on campus.
Looking at global politics, you can see that the world is changing in a way that is unusual. Take the US presidential election and Brexit, for example. Both these issues have revealed resurgence in far right conservative values. Sigh, why can’t we just all sip some Earl Grey and be friends?
“She also was unable to tell me basics about the SU, the 8th Amendment and the wording of the referendum she was canvassing for.”
The point I’m trying to make is that on one hand the world is moving forward and making significant social change, while going backwards at the same time. If our SU was neutral on this issue, we would be the Donald Trump of Irish student politics.
I do consider the Yes side to be in the same league as Donald. Just as ridiculous as Donald was when saying he started his business with nothing, just a few million dollars. The Yes side saying they’re being persecuted, when their stance is the law.
The Yes side does deserve some credit though. Even though they lost, they still got 36% of votes. That is 1,726 students who were persuaded to vote in favour of their ridiculous argument and moronic manifesto. That is impressive. Maybe they should run for the Dáil?
Pardon me if I seem condescending, but, I don’t believe your opinion matters if it is based on false information. I don’t think you need representation from the SU when your stance is regressive. I don’t think microwaves are as important as human rights. Also, there are actually plenty of microwaves available for students use on campus. Ask me where they are. You can’t go to jail for providing information on microwaves, but you can get 14 years for sharing information on abortion. An average of ten Irish women don’t travel abroad every day to reheat their lunch, you can’t compare the two.
Apart from causing me to question my faith in humanity, this referendum also made me question the student awareness of what the 8th Amendment is actually about. My hour long encounter with a Yes canvasser consisted mostly of me wondering if she was having a seizure because her eyes were rolling back into her head so much that it looked like she was convulsing.
Even worse, she was unable to rationally process any other ideas but her own. This is hypocritical considering she was campaigning for fair representation of all views, while disregarding any view but her own. She also was unable to tell me basics about the SU, the 8th Amendment and the wording of the referendum she was canvassing for.
This brings to light a problem in UCD student politics. Bigger than the general incompetency of it, but the absence of there being a process to squash false information during a campaign the minute it is stated. I’m not suggesting a more censored version of the SU, but a better and more credible SU.
How was it that this argument was even brought as far as a referendum? When clearly, the people proposing it didn’t have a notion of what the SU is about. I say this in all sincerity that I do not think a bunch of students have the right to run riot on our SU constitution on a whim. I do not think any campaign should get away with lies, manipulation and false claims.
Canvassing people to vote on a human rights issue with the opening line, ‘Hey, do you like lunch? Vote Yes for microwaves’, should not be condoned. We should all look at corruption in every student campaign with disdain, because it’s just a drop in the ocean in terms of driving ignorance and stunting social growth.
I’m happy the students of UCD have stood up to this blather. It is about time the people who cherish the 8th Amendment, like Golem and the ring, took the back seat.
This isn’t the end of this debate being thrashed around UCD, but hopefully now we can put it to rest and focus on exams and getting a degree. Oh yeah that thing. Did you forget that’s what you’re actually here at UCD for?