UCD students Grace Williams, final year Politics, and Sam Blanckensee, 3rd year Veterinary Nursing, are leading the campaign for a 'Yes' vote on the SU's marriage equality policy referendum.

Grace Williams, final year Politics, and Sam Blanckensee, third year Veterinary Nursing, will lead the ‘Yes’ campaign for next week’s UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) policy referendum on marriage equality. The referendum, if passed, will give UCDSU the mandate to campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote in the national referendum scheduled for May.

Guaranteeing a successful ‘Yes’ vote is not the only challenge that the campaign faces, as voter turnout must be at least 2,302 (10% of the Union’s membership) for the referendum to reach quorum, as Williams discusses. “We will be just trying to get as many students as possible out to vote. There is quite a high quorum for this, so it’s going to be difficult to meet. We’ll be trying to get as many students as possible to show that the Union has a really strong mandate for this … to make sure the national referendum passes.” The campaign will be encouraging voting through a postering campaign, which began this morning, and lecture addressing and canvassing.

If the policy referendum passes, Blanckensee hopes that the Union will run a “get out and vote” campaign, as well as promoting postal voting and working to ensure that the national referendum turnout is not affected by UCD exams. The “get out and vote” campaign will be based on the 169 differences between civil partnership and civil marriage which will include a poster campaign involving students giving their reasons for supporting marriage equality.

No students have put themselves forward to lead the official ‘No’ campaign in the referendum. On the possibility of a late ‘No’ campaign or a significant ‘No’ vote, Williams says: “There’s been no concern as of yet. In our own literature that we’ve printed we have our five reasons (for voting ‘Yes’) and address the rebuttals to them as well. We’ve all come across people who don’t agree with it, but it’s about knowing how to tackle that and how to respond to people and have the right responses to maybe not convince people, but to perhaps turn them around a little bit.”

Blanckensee adds that a ‘No’ vote may come from students feeling that the Union should stay out of the national referendum, as opposed to opposition to marriage equality. “I believe that people will vote against it because they don’t think the Union should have a stance on it, but, in my opinion, the Union should be fighting for the marginalised students on campus.”

Williams and Blanckensee also serve on UCDSU’s Campaigns Forum, Williams as Gender Equality Coordinator and Blanckensee as LGBT Coordinator, but their roles leading the campaign are strictly separate from their elected roles. “We are students facilitating the yes side, we are not in our union capacities”, said Williams. The electoral rules outlined in the Union’s constitution strictly indicate that the Union cannot be seen to endorse any side in a constitutional or policy referendum. It is also dictated that any elected representatives engaged in campaigning for policy or constitutional referendums must do so out of their work hours with the Union. Williams and Blanckensee insist that they are running the campaign solely as students.

Polling is on February 10th and 11th. To join the campaign, contact Grace Williams at grace.williams@ucdconnect.ie