UCDSU’s official marriage equality campaign was launched last night in the Student Centre Atrium, with over 270 attending the event. Hosted by UCDSU and UCD LGBTQ+ it focused on social media with students being asked to post selfies and share videos with the hashtag #VoteForMe.
The launch featured performances from MusicSoc with speeches from the nights keynote speaker Amnesty Ireland executive director, Chris O’Gorman, and also UCD LGBTQ+ auditor Louise Keogh.
O’Gorman urged a ‘yes’ vote, warning against complacency and the possibility of a low turnout. ‘It’s very easy to believe that the passage of this referendum is almost inevitable’ he said.
The launch stressed the need for word-of-mouth campaigning and the impact of social media. UCDSU Welfare and Equality Officer Maeve DeSay stated that there would be less of a focus on canvassers across campus coming up to the referendum and that ‘what students can begin to do, and what’s really important that we start doing is just talking to our friends about it.’
O’Gorman also expressed a need to ‘stimulate the conversations.’ He spoke about a ‘republic of equals’ and claimed that the UCD campaign epitomised why people should vote yes. He explained ‘it’s about taking injustice personally’ and that the referendum was a chance for lasting change. DeSay also highlighted this saying social media campaign had emphasised ‘why it’s important to the individual,’ with the idea behind the slogan to give every student in UCD a personal reason to vote yes.
O’Gorman went on to state that ‘we have to make sure that every single voter in this country understands that if they want to see marriage equality and more importantly, if they want to stand for that vision of a republic of equals then they are going to have to do something to claim it. It’s not going to happen without them.’
O’Gorman stated that the referendum was also about voting ‘no’ to an older Ireland and that he wanted the referendum to win by a landslide because then people could be proud of the Ireland that they live in.
Keogh argued that if the referendum was passed, it would not just be about marriage equality. She said ‘This referendum means acceptance’ and that it shows young people who are unsure of themselves or acceptance that they can ‘express themselves for who they are’. She later stress that students need to turn out to vote in order to achieve this, regardless of whether they are registered in Dublin or other parts of the country.
DeSay agreed with Keogh, claiming that the campaign #VoteForMe already ‘makes campus feel more welcoming,’ especially for LGBTQ+ students. She believes this largely stems from the huge amount of support that the campaign had already achieved with the passing of the referendum by 97% in February and the large turnout last night.
O’Gorman claimed that the referendum was also about voting ‘no’ to an older Ireland and that he wanted the referendum to win by a landslide because it would create an Ireland its citizens could be proud of, asking ‘what kind of Ireland do we want to live in?’
Both Keogh and DeSay viewed the event as a success, with Keogh saying it ‘had a great turnout and everybody seemed very enthusiastic’ and that the social media campaign was a success as the hashtag started trending.