UCDSU President and C&E officer collect signatures for USI membership referendum

Image Credit: UCDSU

The collection of signatures to put forward a referendum to consider the rejoining of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) comes following an item for discussion and a presentation on the USI during the previous two meetings of Union Council.

The collection of signatures is being undertaken by both UCDSU President Ruairí Power and Campaigns & Engagement Officer Darryl Horan, who have been conducting the work while on days of Annual Leave.

In order to trigger a referendum, the UCDSU constitution requires “written  petition  of  not  less  than  5%  of  the  total  registered membership of the Union”, or about 1,500 signatures. If this requirement is met in the next few days, it is understood that the referendum will be held concurrently with the upcoming executive elections.

The USI acts as a representative body for the third-level students in Ireland. UCDSU, while previously a member of the USI, left the organisation in 2013 following some financial difficulties encountered by UCDSU. 

Speaking to the University Observer, Power stated that this was “not an official stance from the Union”, rather it is something that the two were taking upon themselves. When asked what they were hoping to achieve by re-joining the USI, he cited difficulties in lobbying on student issues on a national level as a big factor. He claimed that “Locally (within UCD), the response has been great” but the move to join the USI is hoped to help the Students’ Union engage with students on a wider level. 

When asked if there was any expectation of pushback, Power indicated that they “absolutely would”, and that they “welcome it”. He expressed a clear understanding of concerns, relating to issues like autonomy and finances, and emphasised that they are open to any concerns. He would go on to reiterate his stance, namely the current difficulty in engaging on a national student level, and claimed that there was “a lot more to be gained from rejoining”. He stated that they would be “happy to respect the result, whatever it is.” 

At the time of the conversation, approximately half of the required signatures have been accumulated. Power stated that there were “very good engagements” with students they have spoken to so far. Engagement was referred to as a point of importance, as he stressed that he wants the subject to be “as widely consulted as possible”, stressing the meaning of “building a broad space of student activism”.