Photo credit: the UCDSU Facebook page.

UCDSU have today reaffirmed their campaign to repeal the 8th amendment.

Their comments come as the group “UCD Students For Fair Representation” was recently set up. The group has set up an online petition through change.org aiming to “get UCDSU to adopt a neutral stance on the 8th Amendment.” The petition has so far amassed over 100 signatures.

UCDSU has since noted they have a mandate, following an on campus referendum in October 2013. At the time 74% voted for a combination of complete legalisation of abortion and abortion in some cases.

However, the “Students for Fair Representation” group notes that; “this preferendum had a four-way split, meaning that the mandate (UCDSU should adopt a policy of legalising abortion in Ireland upon the request of a woman) was carried by less than 50% of those who voted. Furthermore, the 1,198 students who voted for this option are a tiny proportion (3.7%) of the 32,000 students attending the university at the time.”

UCDSU has now reaffirmed their democratic stance; “the highest authorities of the Union are student referenda and Union Council as set out in Article 5.1 of the Union Constitution. Sabbats cannot supersede either the result of a referendum or a mandate from Union Council. Otherwise, they face formal reprimand from the Independent Advisory Disciplinary Body (IADB).”

They further explained that “all of the Union’s major policy decisions come from the ground up by way of democratic mandate. Neither the sabbatical or the executive team can overturn the policy adopted as the result of a referendum as doing so would be undemocratic and would also result in them being reported to IADB.”

Following a Union Council motion in 2014, UCDSU received an official mandate to campaign to repeal the 8th amendment of the constitution. This lasts until October 10th 2017

As noted by UCDSU: “the only way to overturn the Union’s stance on the 8th amendment is to seek a second policy referendum by means of a motion passed at Union Council or a written petition signed by 927 UCD students or 3.5% of the total student population (26,500).”

The group organising the petition released a statement to the University Observer:

We got our first 100 signatures within eight hours of going live and it’s quite a balanced group of people. There are people who have signed the petition who are known to us to have a range of views, including pro-life, pro-choice, and those on the fence. The petition challenges UCDSU on Article 2.1.2 of their constitution because students aren’t being represented if they don’t agree with the SU’s stance on this issue. Their money is supporting a cause they may or may not agree with and there is nothing they can do about it. A Students Union should not be politicised: that’s what political societies on campus are for, and both pro-life and pro-choice societies should be recognised on campus in order to campaign for their respective sides. Our research prior to going live showed us that attempts to form these societies in recent years has been unsuccessful.”