Education Officer Candidate, Martha Ní Riada, plans to fight against unpaid work experience and internships, alongside providing new amenities such as sleep pods and creative showcases during her term.
Running for Education Officer, in the only contested race, is fourth year Law with Social Justice student Martha Ní Riada. Contested by Darragh O’Toole, both Education Officers are in a position in which they need to be able to defend their reasons for running for candidacy. For Ní Riada, this is something she feels is beneficial to students as she acknowledges, it allows them to choose between two candidates that will best represent them.
As current social secretary for the Literary and Historical Society, a member of UCD Ladies Classified Football, as well as working on the Academic Advisors Strategy Group, Ní Riada feels she has the experience necessary to run for Officer. Ní Riada was also involved in working on a research project in conjunction with UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice trying to improve the academic advising programme in UCD. Ní Riada believes her experience working with staff and students as social secretary has been useful in terms of giving her the skills she feels are applicable to the role, stating ‘I can get on well with people’, an important social skill needed for dealing with student cases, committees, and more.
I’d like to organise a creative showcase platforming artists, musicians, spoken word poets, anything creative, and create a space for students to come together
To Ní Riada, the most important part of the role of Education Officer is ensuring everyone at UCD has a platform to voice concerns. “[I want] to make sure that all students are getting a voice and are listened to and heard.” When asked why students should vote for Ní Riada over other candidates, Ní Riada said; “The passion I have for it makes me the best candidate for the role.” A prominent part of Ní Riada’s campaign as Education Officer will be to ‘campaign against unpaid work experience and internships on a national level’, alongside ensuring students are taught the skills necessary when it comes to applying for said internships: “We’re so highly educated, it’s not enough to have a degree. It’s so difficult [to get a job] if you don’t have the knowledge from family or friends. When it comes to campaigning against this on a national level, a key part of this would be equity and equality, finding and talking to a broad range of diverse people from different career backgrounds to help ensure that the opportunity of paid work experience and internships are available to everyone.”
Another manifesto point she aims to lobby for is the reduction of resit and repeat fees. She wants to ‘take a comparative approach to other universities and highlight the classist nature of the module substitution system which is directly discriminatory’.
In terms of career supports, Ní Riada plans to host a ‘creative showcase’ for students to help diversify the range of career opportunities made available to students postgraduate. ‘I’d like to organise a creative showcase platforming artists, musicians, spoken word poets, anything creative, and create a space for students to come together.’ To Ní Riada, ‘the arts are extremely undervalued’ and, as Education Officer she would make a point to provide support to students looking to brand into this area of work.
We’re so highly educated, it’s not enough to have a degree. It’s so difficult [to get a job] if you don’t have the knowledge from family or friends
An aspect of UCD Ní Riada wishes to change is the issue of communication within the university. ‘We aren’t given enough information on supports on exams or resits’, and something Ní Riada plans to do to combat this is to create a reference guide which lists and defines all student supports’. Ní Riada also has other plans to support students as outlined in her manifesto such as; lobbying for the inclusion of sleep and sensory pods in the new Centre for Future and Learning or in Science refurbishment Phase 3 as well as push for a bigger number of plugs in the library alongside a better heating and insulation system. The viability of such supports is, to Ní Riada, a real opportunity, and would help students massively; ‘DCU has sensory pods and Maynooth has nap pods, so if they can do it, surely we can do it. The timeline for achieving this point was brought into question, with the building at the front of campus Ní Riada refers to with regard to the location of the sleep and sensory pods being the Centre for Creativity, which is currently in the preliminary stages of construction.