By Lisa Gorry
Reading through the existing and proposed constitutions, I was struck by one particular addition. That is the article which reads “any person holding an elected position shall not use that position for personal or financial gain.” The inclusion of such an article, in my mind, epitomizes the change that is needed in the existing constitution. While Pat de Brún, current president of the SU, defended the addition as “prudent” and emphasised that he had no evidence of such an abuse of power, de Brún admitted that he did feel there could be scope for it to happen; a sad reflection on the level on which we have found ourselves.
It’s hard not to agree with the fact that a change in the fiscal policy of our Students’ Union is long overdue, with the effects of previous inefficient SUs coming to light every day and with the revelation that UCD’s SU is nearly €1 million in debt. In my opinion, the proposed constitution does seem to lay down a good foundation for a more productive union, by seeking to alleviate some of the many problems that exist in the SU. For example, I support the idea of a professional Entertainments Manager; the continuity of an objective manager could add to the already strong ENTs faculty here in UCD, while eliminating the problem of perhaps preferential organising of events on the basis of who’s a rep for what. However, will these changes necessarily relieve the debt that has been incurred? And will the policies come at the price of the students’ involvement?
While these changes undoubtedly work for the benefit of the fiscal issues surrounding the SU, they have in fact impeded some of the student inclusiveness that the union strives for so eagerly, and could ultimately affect how the students vote in this regard. One particular proposal that sticks in my mind is the recommendation that UCD’s only radio station, Belfield FM, lose its much relied upon SU funding. What a fine way to support student media. It is unquestionable that there is need for change, and in that respect, I am thankful for this referendum. However, I don’t know if the changes proposed will necessarily solve the debt crisis that our SU finds itself in. As I said earlier, it is a foundation; a foundation on which we can build. While I don’t support the idea that a new constitution is going to make all our problems go away, I concede that it is a step in the right direction.