Big plans ahead for SU Paul Doherty

DCU Students’ Union will have a fight on their hands this year with the 2013 budget in December and SU President, Paul Doherty, believes that they will have to make sure “everything is kept above board for students and there aren’t any major changes”. Speaking exclusively to The College View, Doherty confirmed that a referendum on fees will be held later this semester, which will give the SU an idea of what DCU students want them to lobby for.

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is another issue the SU will have on their hands this year. DCU faces a referendum on re-affiliating with the USI later this year after a student petitioned for one during week one. Doherty tells us he had a feeling there would be a referendum on re-affiliating with the USI this year, whether it was called by petition or Class Representative Council (CRC). Going on what he’s heard about the petition, he reckons the USI referendum will be held in semester two.

Last year in his pre-election interview with The College View, Doherty said he would be against re-affiliating with the USI and said it would be better for DCU to be standing on it’s own two feet. Six months on, his view on the USI has changed and he will be very interested to see how a referendum plays out. Doherty doesn’t think the SU should take a stance if or when a USI referendum is held as he feels it should be left to the students to decide what they think is best.

A referendum on the USI was last held in DCU two years ago and during the campaign the SU refused to allow the USI on campus to campaign. Doherty would be very cautious letting the USI have “free reign” to campaign on campus and the issue would have to be decided by CRC and the executive first. He is of the mind that only the USI officer board would be allowed to campaign and take part in debates on campus if the CRC allowed them on at all, because of the size of the USI. Another point he makes is that DCU students are currently not USI students so it should be left up to them to make up their own mind.

This year the SU hope to engage more on a national level with politicians. Recently they were in Leinster House speaking with Labour TD, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin. With DCU outside the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), Doherty says it’s important for the SU to lobby on behalf of DCU students but admits it can be difficult. “I won’t say we’re the silent minority, we are our own voice, but it’s tough to going to try and push this year because we’ve a few under 18s in first year.”

The SU reduced ticket prices for the Fresholympics from €15 to €5 if you arrived before 11.30pm, after receiving some complaints over the price.

Doherty admits the SU were unrealistic when setting the price for the event.
“I think it might have just been naive of us. We thought at the start of the year we could go €20 [tickets for the fresher’s ball the week before] and €15, the second Maxwell as well before the semester is gone because comedy is always going to do well so we’re going to keep that going.”

Doherty tells The College View that the SU are very conscious that many students commute and they plan to keep up the daytime events to accommodate them.

“We want to make sure we can get them in the early afternoon, if we can get them. That’s the big thing for us, engagement, so we’re going to get them while they’re around campus.”

Charity work is something the SU want to do more of this year and Doherty said they plan to work it into their campaign weeks for their chosen charities, Headstrong, Cycle for Life and Temple Street Children’s Hospital.

Toxic Tuesday, the popular night in the Nubar which offered cheap drinks, DJs and a late bar, attracted so much attention from students last year.

Eventually it became such a problem for the SU the only solution was to cancel it.

Doherty confirmed to The College View that it won’t be making a return this year; “Unfortunately it’s [Toxic Tuesday] not going to come back.
“At the end of the day we’re here to look after students as well. It was too much of a risk.”

Doherty and the SU still plan on having late night events but he says they will probably be based in town as DCU isn’t ideal as a nightclub venue. “It’s [the Hub] not ideal for a venue. At the end of the day it’s designed as a student centre but turning it into a nightclub at night causes serious difficulties.”

The Old Bar remained closed for most of last year after it was deemed a health and safety risk. Following work during the summer, the Old Bar was re-opened for the two Clubs and Socs days. Doherty says it is now “Lifeline safe” which he says means all the safety issues have been dealt with and all the problems are fixed.

The SU want the Old Bar to be used as a multi-functional space, mainly available for clubs and societies to use. Doherty says there is also the possibility that it can be open up as a study space for students.

The one thing Doherty hopes to achieve in his year as SU President is tackling the issue of mental health. “The one thing that’s close to myself, and I know the lads [Fellow SU sabbaticals Neil Collins and Aaron Clogher] are the same would be mental health in DCU.

“That’s one thing I really want to tackle, and really help students in DCU because it’s a growing thing out there and we just want to make sure that everyone’s able to talk about it.”

Image Credit: Lorraine Walker

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