SU Elects: UCDSU to hold Referendum on Constitutional Reform

UCDSU has recently proposed a number of reforms to its governing document; the SU Constitution

The amendments can only be introduced by means of a democratic referendum of its members (i.e., UCD students). Notably, the proposed amendments include:

Proposed amendments to Article 4.5 have called for the list of named and specified grounds for discrimination against members to be removed, calling for a general prohibition on discrimination against members on any grounds. 

Further proposals call for the launch of Impeachment Referendums only by a petition of members, rather than at the direction of Council. The SU website claims: “This is on the basis that when the approval of Union members is required to fill a position, it should also be required to vacate it.” The threshold for such referendums has been increased to 7.5%, for the ostensible purpose of preventing “vexatious or otherwise cumbersome and expensive referendums for which there may not be broader support.”

Proposed amendments clarify the composition of the SU membership. Specifically, membership applies to those pursuing studies in UCD’s campuses in Dublin (i.e., Belfield, Blackrock), and not those in any UCD campuses overseas.

The establishment of new positions, including the introduction of a Diversity and Inclusion Officer, and International Students Officer. These new office holders will serve in the capacity of part-time executive council positions, rather than as campaign coordinators. This will enable the newly established positions to enjoy greater influence over the work of the SU council, to report to the council on their work more frequently, and have more input in the policy making process.

The position of Graduate officer will be renamed Postgraduate Officer, and will no longer be required to visit the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School campus (based in Blackrock) on a weekly basis. This comes amidst growing momentum within the postgraduate workers’ movement, represented by the PWO (Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation). The PWO has campaigned and agitated on postgraduate workers’ rights for months, as reported by this paper. The issues of postgraduate pay and working conditions are expected to represent a major area of policy concern for the incoming SU executive, and postgraduate workers’ rights have been cited as a key area of focus by many of the candidates in the upcoming race.

The majority of the remaining proposed amendments are largely procedural and semantic (e.g., addressing grammatical discrepancies within the text of the document, or altering the procedural methodology under which the SU formally adopts and operationalises policy).

In a recently published document, UCDSU Council stated that it recognises the SU Constitution as "a binding document passed by referendum of the students of UCD which outlines the core values, functions and objectives of the organisation." In the document, council members described the Constitution as the "de-facto rule book of the students’ union." 

The Constitution of the SU is drafted in consultation with a solicitor, and is a foundational legal document, the text of which elucidates the institutional framework under which the SU is governed. The Constitution outlines the duties, responsibilities, and functions of elected office holders, and governs the manner in which SU policy is formulated and implemented. It can only be amended by means of a democratic referendum. A list of the proposed amendments and annotations is available on the UCDSU website, through the Executive Elections portal. Voting on the proposed amendments will take place in tandem with the SU executive elections later on this semester.