The University Observer has seen a draft of the proposed new constitution which was debated this evening, at an informal council meeting in the Fitzgerald Chamber at 6pm. The new Union constitution will be voted on by the student body at the next sabbatical elections and is intended for adoption in Spring 2019.
Union sources have said that members of the Executive forum, the Campaigns forum and Class Reps received copies of the proposed constitution less than 24 hours before tonight’s meeting.
Among some of the amendments up for consideration are changes surrounding Union referendums, most notably the impeachment referendum.
If adopted, the new constitution stipulates that an impeachment referendum can only be called if a petition of “not less than 7.5% of the total registered membership of the Union” is presented to the Returning Officer.
Under the current constitution, a referendum can be called by the Returning Officer if a petition of “no less than 3.5% of the total registered membership of the union” was submitted. This change was noted to be “seen as a healthy balance of a feasible threshold while also lowering the prospect of vexatious or otherwise cumbersome and expensive referendums for which there may not be broader support”.
The draft constitution would also require at least 12.5% of Union membership to vote in an impeachment referendum for the vote to considered valid. An impeachment referendum is valid under the current constitution if 10% of the membership of the Union vote. The draft constitution also stipulates that only valid votes cast are to be counted in such a referendum and spoiled votes would not count towards the required level of voter turnout.
Other amendments in the constitution include the re-introduction of the Entertainments Officer as a Sabbatical Officer position. The position, abolished in 2013, will serve a similar function to the Campaign and Communications Officer: “The Entertainments Officer shall be ultimately responsible for the organisation, coordination and running of entertainment events for members…[and]…They shall recruit the Entertainments Forum and relevant entertainment volunteers. They shall convene and chair meetings of the Entertainments Forum.”
The maximum size of a student constituency would be reduced from 170 to 120, raising the number of class reps under the new constitution.
There are also alterations to the role of the Campaign and Communications Officer. The amendment changes the title of the “Campaign and Communications Officer” to the “Campaign and Engagement Officer”. This new amendment clearly states that it is the role this officer to “have input into the running, on a day-to-day basis, of all Union publications, including its website and social media, with the exception of those publications that are editorially independent whom they shall liaise with to ensure the quality of publication and content.”
Under the draft constitution, sabbatical officers will be required to run at least two campaigns a year related to their portfolio in conjunction with the Campaigns & Engagement Officer.
Additionally, the The Campaigns Forum would be expanded to include two new positions “The Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator” and “The Student Residences Coordinator.” The Sports and Societies Coordinators roles has been removed from the proposed constitution on the basis that “these positions are often vacant and overlap with the functions of other bodies.”
The Diversity & Inclusion Officer will work with the Campaign and Communications Officer to “raise awareness of the diversity of all students in UCD. This diversity includes, inter alia: race, ethnicity, culture and religion,” and will be responsible for liaising with UCD societies, including collaboration on events. The Housing Rights Coordinator (listed as “The Student Residences Coordinator) “shall represent the interests of on-campus residents…[and]…shall assist the Welfare Officer and Campaigns & Communications Engagement Officer with all community campaigns pertaining to on-campus residents. This shall include going door to door in Residences once a semester to gather feedback on issues.”