USI #RockTheRegister campaign aims to register 10,000 students

THE Union of Students in Ireland has pledged to register over 10,000 students across the country to vote before the next election. Over the past two years, USI registered 80,000 students, but still aim to register a greater proportion of the over 60 000 Irish people turning 18 every year.On the 16th of November, USI, and the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) launched the #RockTheRegister campaign, encouraging students unions to register their members. A 2014 survey carried out by the NYCI found that only 57% of 18-to-21-year-olds were registered to vote, and of those, just 48% voted in the local and European elections that took place that year.Ian Power, Executive Director of stated that “there are so many pressing issues we’re seeing at the moment that have clear political solutions; whether it be the lack of student housing and affordable rents, the very high cost of education, the difficulty young people still face in finding good quality jobs or any number of other things. The only way any of these problems are going to be fixed is through young people mobilising and having their say in changing this country for the better, just like they did with the Marriage Equality referendum.”UCDSU Campaigns & Communications Officer Luke Fitzpatrick agrees that last year’s historic referendum was a prime example of how effective students’ votes can be. “We, the students, got out in force to get what we wanted. We changed a system that oppressed us and fought us for our beliefs. It is 2016 and it feels like we, the students, are being oppressed yet again on more than one agenda… Your vote can change how you're represented and who you're represented by.”Although UCDSU is not currently a member of USI, the drive for voter registration is still a priority. In the run up to the Marriage Equality referendum, UCDSU hosted its largest ever registration drive, bringing a Garda on-campus to get hundreds of students on the electorate. During the last general election they also subsidised carpools bringing students to their native constituencies to vote.Posters have been placed in buildings around campus encouraging students to register with free coffee vouchers, along with a social media campaign, and UCDSU has more plans to boost registration next semester.The lack of young people in the electorate has often meant that students’ views are under-represented in government. Last October 1,000 students, including some from UCD, took part in a nationwide protest against cuts to third-level funding. However, the major political parties are less likely to tackle issues that affect students, as their seats depend more on older generations.The dominance of elderly voters has been linked to the result of the UK’s controversial “Brexit” vote last June – while just 64% of mostly pro-remain 18-24 year olds voted, 90% of pensioners went to the polls, helping the Leave campaign to gain a narrow majority.Older voters are also believed to have had an impact on Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, as the polls showed that the 65+ demographic consistently supported the Republican candidate through his campaign.To see whether you are eligible to vote, go to If you can’t find your name, or if your details are incorrect, the necessary forms are also available on the site, or from the UCDSU offices in the old student centre, 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.