UCDSU Elections Explainer

Image Credit: Heather Reynolds

Ahead of voting for the 2022 Sabbatical and College Officer roles for UCD Students’ Union, below is an explainer of some key terms that will be of use in the coming days.

What is the Students’ Union?

UCD Students’ Union is a representative body separate to the university that acts in the interests and welfare of all UCD students.

What are the objectives of the Students’ Union? 

Many of the SU sabbatical roles involve casework and one-on-one work with students, in particular with regard to the Education and Welfare officer roles. One of the Union’s fundamental objectives is stated as acting as a “representative body for its members and other persons registered as students of the University” and to “promote  the  welfare  of  students  and  to  adapt  to  their  evolving  needs,  to  enhance  their University experience”. The Students’ Union aims to best represent the students of UCD in the larger issues facing the student body, and to “promote the practice of democratisation at all levels of higher education”, according to the SU’s constitution. 

What is the UCDSU constitution?

The Students’ Union constitution serves as an explanation of the objectives and organisational bodies that keep the Union operational. This includes Union council, the Union’s relationship to the media, and detailed definitions of all the roles (both full-time and voluntary) filled by members of the Union. The constitution can be found on UCDSU’s website. 

What are sabbatical officers?

Sabbatical officers consist of six, full time roles undertaken by previous students of UCD. The roles are paid, full-time contracts for 12 months. While each sabbatical role is different, the team works closely alongside each other for the duration of their terms to achieve the goals as outlined in their manifestos. 

The sabbatical roles are as follows: 


According to the Constitution, the President is the “CEO, First Officer & Chief Spokesperson of the Union and shall be responsible for the administration of the Union. All staff of the Union shall be ultimately responsible to the President.” The President is the face of the Union, coordinating its activities and bearing ultimate responsibility for its finances. The role of President is uncontested this year, with Molly Greenough on the ballot for the job. 

Welfare Officer

The Welfare Officer is responsible for issues that relate to student welfare. This includes raising awareness of, or promoting, counselling services, mental health, disability services, sexual health, LGBTQ+ issues, harm reduction, issues of consent and sexual violence and more. The Welfare Officer handles a lot of student cases but is not a counselling service and must refer students to the relevant services. A large part of the job is also being involved with campaigning matters on issues relating to student welfare. Míde Nic Fhionnlaoich is the sole candidate for the position. 

Education Officer

The Education Officer handles issues of academic interest including exams and repeats, fees, library services etc. The Education Officer also deals with personal cases and must, like the Welfare Officer, keep those cases confidential. The Education Officer also sits on many academic committees and boards where the welfare of students' academics are concerned. The role of Education Officer is the only contested role in this year's sabbatical race, with Martha Ní Riada and Darragh Kane O’Toole in the running. 

Campaigns and Engagement Officer

The Campaigns and Engagement Officer is responsible for organising any protests and large gatherings where the Union is lobbying the government or protesting the University on issues facing students. The C&E Officer is also responsible for improving the overall engagement between the student community in UCD and the Union. Robyn O’Keeffe is the only candidate for the role for the 2022/2023 academic year.

Entertainments Officer

The Entertainments (or Ents) Officer is responsible for the facilitation of social events that are run by the Students’ Union. The Ents Officer needs to be able to liaise with businesses and vendors to carry out events both large scale that cater to entire year groups and smaller, often weekly and informal events. The Ents Officer also needs to work with societies in aiding them with the successful organisation of their events. The only candidate for the role is Ciara Moroney. 

Graduate Officer

The Graduate Officer deals with issues relating to the education, welfare and student experience of graduate students. They also cover a lot of student cases. Unlike the other sabbatical officers, they must maintain office hours at the Smurfit campus in Blackrock at least one day per week. The 2022 election is without a Graduate Officer candidate this year. 

What are College Officers?

College officers act as the “primary means of communication between the students and class representatives in their constituency, and the Union Executive.” College officers act as a means of bridging the communication gap between sabbats and class representatives, meaning student issues get highlighted by the people carrying out these roles. 

The College Officer roles appearing on the ballot this year are as follows: 

Science College Officer: Ryan Corley

Law College Officer: Aisling Maloney, Robin Jowett. 

There are a total of six college officer roles that have no nominees.

How will voting work this year?

Students can cast their votes on the 30th and 31st of March. Voting will take place online this year, but there will be informational stands around campus during the voting period to encourage students to register to vote. 

What do I need to vote?

Students will have to register online ahead of time, and will need their student number and course information.

What is RON? 

RON stands for Re-Open Nominations. This vote is treated like a candidate in all executive elections. If you do not like the candidates for a race, you can vote RON number 1. If you really like candidates and greatly dislike other candidates, you can vote for the ones you like and then vote RON ahead of the candidates you dislike, in order of personal preference. This also ensures that there are not wasted votes. In the sabbatical officer race where five out of six roles are uncontested, RON will be the only other option on the ballot in those cases. 

What is hustings? 

Before voting is to take place, all candidates in the executive elections (sabbatical and college officer roles) will address students at an open debate called hustings. They will be quizzed on their campaigns, manifestos and visions for their chosen roles. All students are invited to attend, and it is a way to ask any burning questions you may have for any of the candidates running, if you are still on the fence before voting. Hustings will take place on Thursday, March 24th at 6-9pm in the Village accommodation.