Having spent time working in various roles within the Union, Molly Greenough is running as the only presidential candidate in this year’s Students’ Union elections. Currently serving as the Welfare Officer, the graduate of Law and Social Justice aims to keep the SU as a familiar presence on campus, keeping students central in how they approach the year ahead.
A “self-proclaimed SU Hack”, Greenough’s previous experience includes serving as a class representative, a college officer, the mental health Campaign Coordinator, and a stint volunteering for the Ent’s forum. It is this experience that she believes will serve her for her time as President. Speaking on why she would be fit for the position, she points out that her experience has led her to develop an “acute understanding of the issues that are impacting students on a daily basis, whether that be financial hardship, mental health struggles, or anything in between.” She also believes that such experience, most notably her time spent as Welfare Officer, would see her take on a supportive role for the rest of the team, stating that “one of the key points of the roles is supporting the sabbatical officers and make sure they are able to complete their constitutional duties”, suggesting that she could see her “welfare officer tendencies will probably be kicking in next year”.
If I am being honest, I do wish it was a contested election, because I do think I am a strong candidate and that I would have held my own
One of the key points Greenough aimed to address in her manifesto was one of fostering a sense of community on campus. She understands that “the lessons you learn outside of the classroom can be as important as those you learn in it, and I want the UCDSU to foster a sense of community and help students make the most of their college experience.” Greenough believes that while UCDSU did a good job in generating a feeling of community this year,, it was not viewed as a “fundamental objective”. “I think it’s happened as a coincidence rather than something purposeful, so I think that’s really why I wanted to include it first and foremost, because when you are on the ground every single week , speaking with students and engaging with other units of campus life, such as the counselling service, clubs and societies, it has positive knock-on effects on engagement and hopefully election turnout, so I think they have done a lot for community previously but putting it as an objective is what sets me apart in that fact.”
Greenough’s manifesto follows onto the subject of respect, in which she points to student safety and wellbeing as a “primary concern”. With the intent of creating a “safer environment for all”, her manifesto indicates a desire to highlight and spread information regarding existing policies and procedures in-place to support students, lobbying for the introduction of opt-out consent classes, the introduction of a ‘Consent Week’, and an increased emphasis on harm reduction policies and campaigns. The ideology of knowledge being power is clear in Greenough’s message. Speaking on current policies, highlighting the Dignity and Respect Policy, she noted that she does “think the policy itself is strong, but the communication of which is a bit weak from the University. I think students often don't know the supports are there. For example, a new support unit, the Dignity and Respect support advisors in November on campus, so I think there needs to be a more widespread focus on spreading general welfare related policies.” When asked if she could think of any blind-spots present in these policies in their current form, she pointed to was training for leaders on campus in helping them support students – “I think the one area that is lacking is wider-spread targeted training for those who, for example, may come into contact with disclosures during their time in UCD. I think there are gaps in the overall level in training that could be improved by the introduction of this type of training. The aim to empower all of our student leaders on campus is one area that those sorts of policies are falling short on, at the moment.
Following on from last year’s team, Greenough intends to continue on the momentum that they have generated on key issues. On this subject, she points out a mental health strategy, cost rental accommodation, highlighting the behind-the-scenes aspect of the SU, student feedback and communication, as well as scrapping the Student Contribution and replacing the National Student Accommodation Strategy as central to this point. Speaking on continuing the work put in from last year, she suggested that “It’s not like pushing an open door, but the lock has definitely been undone” in regard to issues both on a local and national level. She points to a previous “gesture of goodwill that there is room to join in on these conversations”, before suggesting that they “have a very long memory in the SU.”
The final point of Greenough’s manifesto simply cements her intent to keep the student body central in her time as President.
Despite the Presidential Race falling uncontested, she remains confident in her mandate to represent the student body, should she win. When asked for her thoughts on running uncontested, she responded that “If elected, I don’t really think it removed any sort of mandate to act. If I am being honest, I do wish it was a contested election, because I do think I am a strong candidate and that I would have held my own. At the end of the day, I’m viewing this as if it is contested. I’m still going to put my best foot forward and show the students how much I care.”