UCDSU 2024 Executive Elections - Sabbatical Officer Race analysis

In a shocking turn of events, the 2024 UCD Students’ Union Executive Elections see all but one sabbatical officer race contested. This a significant departure from last year’s proceedings which saw all races go uncontested bar the Campaigns and Engagements Sabbatical role. The latter was eventually won by Miranda Bauer, when she defeated her opponent Ryan Corley on the first count.


The Presidential race will see current Graduate Officer, Marc Matouc oppose Bauer. As current members of the Executive they both have extensive theoretical and practical knowledge of UCD as a college and the inner-workings of the union. However, the similarities between the two candidates end there. 

While Bauer is using her experience as an international student to fuel her campaign to make UCD an equal opportunity college, Matouc is undertaking the herculean task of restoring a sense of community that has been lost in UCD. While both candidates believe that an expansive campus such as UCD needs to invest in better cohort cohesion, the candidates are coming at the issue from vastly different angles undoubtedly influenced by their own unique paths in UCD. Matouc, who arrived in UCD to do his masters’ degree in Geopolitics and the Global Economy during the tailend of the COVID-19 pandemic, presents a campaign and manifesto that focuses strongly on Ents aspects of the role. He notably mentions better society and club collaboration and better communication with the UCD Student’s Union. 

On the other hand, Bauer’s background as Campaigns and Engagements Officer transpires as she cites improvements to student accommodation, continued activism from the SU and student body as a way to foster community in UCD. Her specific path in UCD is notably marked by consistent involvement with societies and clubs such as the Horticulture society, the German Society, the Hispanic Society and the volleyball club. 



The Welfare race will see current UCDSU Non-alcoholic Events Officer and Dramsoc D&I Officer Shauna Young, UCD PhD Researcher Jacob Miller and UCDSU Mental Health Coordinator Ciara Donohue vying for the role of Welfare Officer. 

Arguably, Young is the one of the three with the most union experience, but while the other candidates may appear more green they foreground their campaigns in this respective experiences. Miller’s campaign is focused on the key areas of housing, accessibility, safety and health and based on the belief that in order to attain these things for students, UCDSU needs to be more radical in its actions. The latter is something he has undoubtedly carried on from his experience with the Labour Party back in the United Kingdom. Donohue’s campaign has also been impacted by her unique student experience as she campaigns for improved welfare for UCD students on placements, internships and Erasmus, student accommodation and campaigns amongst other elements. Her manifesto seems very ambitious and follows the continuity of ideas that have already been put in place in the union. 

Currently it appears that while Young has the strongest theoretical and practical knowledge of the union and the role she is campaigning for, Donoghue was well-prepared to answer questions but retained some idealism on how she would achieve specific goals, a trait she shared with Miller. 



The Education race will see Health Science college officer Tia Cullen oppose Stage 4 Social Science Class Representative Naomhan Mhaonaigh. 

Mhaonaigh claims that their experience as a class representative has given them a "good understanding of heavy internal workings of UCD and the SU," despite the fact that they do not have the same background in the SU as other candidates. This is consistent with other candidates' expressed desire for greater exposure and interaction with the SU. Mhaonaigh's manifesto may have a significant bias towards welfare measures, but they acknowledge that there is room for collaboration and that welfare and education are closely related fields. 

Tia Cullen is a Stage 3 General Nursing student who has served as the Nursing and Midwifery Society auditor and as the Stage 2 class representative for General Nursing during her stay at UCD. She is running for the position of SU's next education officer and is currently the officer in charge of the Health Sciences College. 

Cullen believes that her experience as a College Officer equipped her with the organizational, communication, and institutional knowledge required for a sabbatical role. Her manifesto, however, concentrates on the four main areas of policy work, accessibility, involvement, and education costs. These are big, nationwide objectives that would be challenging for Cullen to accomplish. As a result, she hopes to work with SU and the next Campaigns and Engagement Officer.

The two candidates have similar perspectives and seem to have similar concepts of how to achieve said goals, as such the deliberation might prove more difficult than with other races. 


Two candidates are running for the role of Entertainment and Events Officer this year. Neo O’Herlihy, the current Ents Officer and Daniel Devey a newcomer to the union. A third candidate, Fade Adeniran, had initially been announced. Adeniran was the auditor of UCD Africa Society during the 2022-2023 academic year but dropped from the race after the materials deadline. 

This will not be the first time that someone with little union experience is running for a position in the UCDSU executive, but this race will prove to be interesting as Davey is running against the current Ents Officer. For the moment it is unclear if students will vote for a newcomer who is running a campaign based on lived experience and idealism or an officer who has learned from the role and considers that they are best suited to continue building on the foundations they have set. 

Last year, candidates for Ents Officer had also dropped out leaving O’Herlihy to run unopposed. He eventually won the election. 


The Graduate Officer race will see UCDSU Disability Rights Campaigns Coordinator Kylie McCardel and Business College Officer Simon Van Beek facing off. The two candidates have had vastly different approaches to their campaigns. 

While McCardel has let her experience, personal connection to student welfare and empathy speak for her, Van Beek has been leading the offensive with a campaign that has not gone unnoticed. While the latter’s strategy may have at times seemed unserious with mascots, catchy phrases and a self-proclamation as the SU’s “devil’s advocate”, McCardel’s campaign has been informed by her tenure in UCD and in academia as a whole. The pluralistic view she offers to the role of Graduate officer is also Van Beek may bring given his undergraduate career was led in the Netherlands. However, his controversial stance on issues such as Palestinian solidarity and his trouble expanding on concrete plans featured on his manifesto might play against him. In contrast, McCardel's vision is clear and concise. 

The candidate’s performance at the sabbatical officer hustings, held Thursday March 28th at 5pm in the Old Student Centre Atrium will perhaps serve as the match point in this race. 


Campaigns and Engagements 

Saskia Eiffe-McCormack is the sole candidate for the Campaigns and Engagements race.