Above: yesterday’s council meeting in the Fitzgerald Chamber.

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AT the UCD Students’ Union (SU) council meeting yesterday evening, President Conor Viscardi stated that the council would vote on a mandate regarding fees early next year.

The meeting – which is the final one of the semester – took place in Fitzgerald Chamber in the student centre yesterday evening. One of the main topics of discussion was fees, and Viscardi wished for the SU to discuss the topic before any decision is to be made in early 2017.

Since the SU is not part of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), the union does not have to follow the mandate of free fees automatically. As Viscardi stated during his opening remarks, “we are the largest students’ union in the country, and we are not members of the USI, so we’re not under this umbrella of universities endorsing free fees.”

During the discussion, SU Campaigns and Communication Officer Luke Fitzpatrick noted that “[UCD] would be the only college or university in the country without a position in favour of free fees.”

The discussion looked at three main avenues for fees. The first being the introduction of significantly reduced or free fees; the second is the continuation of the current system; and the final being the introduction of income-contingent loans for third-level students.

After a lengthy discussion on the three options, President Viscardi, in his closing remarks stated that “it is even safe to say that this might be even more of a slightly divisive issue, maybe even more than I predicted.” He continued stating that “what’s going to happen is, at [the] first union council of second semester a motion is going to be put to union council in order [to] how we establish our mandate, or a direction on how we pursue getting that mandate in relation to fees.”

Other topics discussed during the meeting yesterday evening was whether the SU should publicly disregard the comments of President-Elect of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, as well as a discussion on where the additional €3 million will come from to cover the spiralling costs of the UCD Confucius Institute.

Council voted to increase awareness and advertising of free sanitary products for students such as sanitary towels and tampons. They also voted have a welfare sub-committee discuss what the SU’s stance on abortion is beyond the repealing of the eighth amendment.