UCDSU Executive Elections: Hustings Day 2

In-person campaigning for the 2024 Students’ Union Elections continues with three more college officer hustings debates (Health Science, Engineering and Business)

The second day of in-person campaigning for the 2024 UCDSU Executive Election continued today with three hustings debate. From 5pm on, candidates for the positions of Health Science, Engineering, Architecture, Science, and Business College Officer were grilled on their manifestos by both returning officer and attendees.  

The debate for the position of Health Science college officer took place in the Health Science Building, and saw Noah Johnson and Ramzy Zaki facing off. Both candidates structured their manifestos around what they consider the most pressing issues for Health Science students; notably community and hangout spaces, and the unique experience that comes with partaking in clinical placements. On this matter, Johnson emphasised the hardships and lack of support some students might experience; he hopes that the college officer might work alongside the union and other bodies to counter these issues.

Conversely, Zaki emphasised how students rarely fill out module feedback forms, and suggests his intention to work with the education officers and class rep to liaise with module coordinators to maximise engagement. UCDSU President Martha Ní Riada asked the candidates how they would go about increasing the connection between the different constituencies the Health Science college officer represents: Johnson aims to increase inter-disciplinary inclusion, whilst Zaki cites the lack of staffing that might facilitate the bridging amongst schools; societies, however, might help in this regard. 

The University Observer asked the candidate if he felt like his manifesto was achievable in the span of a year or if he hoped to set foundations for future Health Science Officers to which he answered: “If elected, I plan to hold sabbatical officers accountable on the promises they have made to constituents and I hope that the foundations I establish will set a standard for future Health Science officers”. 

On his part, Zaki suggests that system issues are the ones that are most affecting module engagement; working in collaboration with class reps might counter these issues, as they would ensure feedback from students is being collected. 

Incumbent college officer Tia Cullen asked both candidates how they would subvert the tendency of some programme boards to be “dismissive of students’ voices”. Zaki intends to “ask for feedback all the time” to ensure that student issues are properly addressed, whilst Johnson aims to use class reps to actually push students’ voices forward. 

Candidates were also quizzed on how to increase class rep engagement, particularly postgraduate students. Zaki suggests lecture addressing to raise awareness on the workings of the union and what being a class rep entails. On his part, Johnson brings three points forward: making knowledge of the union part of the orientation, the upcoming SU referendum that would anticipate class rep elections, and creating a community that would incentivise people to run for class rep positions.

The second debate saw Donal Monahan and Siobhan Black campaigning for the position of Engineering college officer. Both candidates’ manifestos overlap on specific issues that are contentious to the overall engineering student population; thus, it came down to how each answered the questions posed to them by the returning officer and the crowd. 

Monahan expressed his commitment to ensure that the SU listens to students’ pledges, whilst Black hopes to be a figure students know they can rely on. 

The next husting debate also saw Max Cojocari and Stephen Mullen make their case for their election as Architecture college officer. This is the first time there is an election for this position since the split of Architecture and Engineering into two different constituencies. 

Stephen Mullen starts his address by emphasising the disconnect of Richview from the rest of campus; indeed, his manifesto focuses on improving the overall conditions of the building. 

Against him, Alex Cojocari also highlights the need for better facilities for Architecture students, whilst also suggesting that the role of a class rep is to be a voice for all students. 

Both candidates were asked what is the most pressing, local issue for Architecture students. Cojocari suggests communication difficulties and the need for better organisation, whilst Mullen cites the need to “make it more tolerable to be in Richview.” 

Mullen proclaims himself as a feminist, he highlights the importance for the union to be socially active. Cojocari, too, clarified that he is a feminist - and that his girlfriend was in attendance. 

Incumbent officer Cillian Murphy quizzed the candidates on how they would ensure that students are aware that the Union exists. Mullen suggests more communication - specifically through instant messaging and postering, whilst Cojocari highlights the importance of class reps in this regard. 

The candidates were asked to elaborate on how they aim to make Richview “more tolerable”; adding services and extending opening hours are the main points brought forward by both Mullen and Cojocari. 

The third and final debate saw three candidates campaigning for the position of Science college officer, as well as the sole candidate for Business college officer. 

Three candidates are campaigning for the position of Science College Officer: Laura Lysaght, Vashnika Sood, and Aashna Khurana all focus on improving community and increasing the wellbeing of science students on campus. Lysaght joined online, but did not contribute throughout the duration of the debate. 

Quizzed on the most pressing issue for Science students, risk of “burnout” was the main point brought forward. To counter this, Sood expressed her commitment to lobby to obtain a Reading week, whilst Khurana suggested adding more breaks and more ‘interactive’ activities. 

Current UCDSU Education Officer Sarah McGrath inquired the candidates on what they would do to ensure students are represented by their class reps; Sood aims to counter this issue by ensuring to recruit class reps from “unrepresented” areas, whilst Khurana suggests organising social events to build community amongst students and their representatives. Asked what they would change about the O’Brian Centre if money was not an obstacle, both Khurana and Sood highlighted the need for more seating spaces.  

Pearse Wange is the sole candidate for the position of Business College Officer. Wang is particularly conscious of the issues affecting business students in Quinn; however, his plans include the inclusion of Smurfit as well. Specifically, Wang aims to liaise with the next Graduate officer, as well as the broader union, to ensure all Business students are represented. 

If money was not an obstacle, Wang wishes he could create one big UCD campus including both Belfield and Smurfit. He then concluded the address by crossing items from the Hustings Bingo in the Election Special of The University Observer.