By Frances Mulraney
A proposed UCD Students’ Union constitution will see the abolition of the Entertainment Officer as a sabbatical position, the suggested establishment of College Councils and a new rule requiring a referendum on affiliation with USI every four years.
A referendum on the new constitution will take place on February 29th and March 1st. The referendum announcement comes after the recent revelation that the university’s SU is €1 million in debt.
However Conor Fox, News Editor with UCD student paper ‘The College Tribune’, stated that although “the new constitution will help streamline the union finances, it wasn’t drafted with the aim of affecting the debt”.
The previous constitution only referenced the word finance once. This increases to 30 times in the new proposed version.
The proposed system of college councils will see a council set up for every college in the university, resulting in seven in total.
The existing PROs of these colleges will become “convenors” with the possibility of payment on a part-time basis.
The roles of sabbatical officers will also change. The president would be responsible for Ents with the removal of the Entertainment Officer. UCD and Trinity are currently the only Students’ Unions in the country to retain an Ents Officer as a full-time elected role.
The Welfare Officer will become responsible for equality. Final year and postgraduate students will elect a “Undergraduate Education Officer” and a “Graduate Education Officer”.
Speaking to the ‘College Tribune’, UCD students Jamie Rath and Mark Stokes of the “No” campaign, claimed that: “This constitution was designed behind closed doors with minimal input from students. It was designed by and for ‘The Clique’, the insiders in the SU.”
However, UCD Students’ Union President, Pat de Brún, feels that the new constitution would open up the SU.
He says it will “recognise that the class rep who likes organising parties may be a very different animal from the rep who enjoys matters of union policy”.
He believes that by creating College Councils and then a Union Council it will allow for a differentiation between these people and allow the SU to be more “inclusive and representative”.
He continued to counter the “No” campaign’s argument by saying that suggestions from students were considered at the start of the semester and that they had been incorporated in the proposed final draft instead of a “closed door” system.
Speaking in relation to the Ents Officer, De Brún states: “People generally believe that there is too much financial risk being put into the hands of an elected student. The hope is that UCD Ents can run at a profit as opposed to a loss.”