Aaron Clogher is in for a busy time this year. With a referendum on fees and a referendum on USI affiliation both expected this year, Clogher has had a busy few weeks getting settled into the role of Education Officer in DCU’s Students’ Union.
“It is a lot to get used to because it’s a first real job for most people, we’ve come from, in the main, taking aside non-traditional students, maybe we’ve had work experience, but this is the first time you’re under pressure to meet deadlines and the first time that you have deadlines. Your door has to be always open, and you have to be there to deal with people.
“Our interview was meant to start 24 minutes ago, but there were students in here, you cant just say ‘no, sorry’. We actually talked about this recently, the three of us [Aaron, Paul and Neil], that if we have a piece of work to do, like I was here trying to organise committee and class reps, you could easily have 20 student issues in a day coming in the door, and you can’t jus turn them away. It’s actually quite enjoyable to help students with their issues.”
The fees referendum is expected to pop up year after year, and this college year should be no different. Clogher, however, must put aside his own personal view on the fees issue and campaign for what the students of DCU decide.
“Coming into the job, it was one of the things that went through my head a hundred times, asking how can I put my own views to the side when I’m told this is what I have to believe. It’s politics; your mandated and you have to go along with it. That’s the beauty of a referendum, you should get the overall student view on it and we just have to go with whatever they say.”
A busy start to the college year has been made busier due to problems with registration. Clogher believes that a lack on understanding the new system caused most problems.
“Apparently registering students from the north [was a problem], and that was news to me, I hadn’t had one query about it. Then there were teething issues with payments and splitting the payments. Students didn’t understand what was going on, there was a certain element of some staff not really understanding the system.
“To be fair to Claire Bohan, I got onto her about it, within two days we had a document back and it was circulated to finance, fees, registry, SU, student support development detailing everything that was happening. I think that cleared up most of the issues. There are always teething problems when a new system comes in.”
The role of being an SU sabbatical officer is not one that appeals to most people during their college life, so why has Aaron Clogher made the move. Working with Paul Doherty and Neil Collins has also been great for Clogher so far.
“No more than anything you do, what you think about something looking from the outside, it usually doesn’t turn out to be the same than it actually is. The role has turned out to be probably more than I even could have anticipated when running for it.
“You probably think very strategically when you’re looking to go into a job like this, but in reality the operational stuff is what keeps me here until after midnight every night. I got into it to make a difference, affect the student experience, and hopefully that can be the case.”
“It’s been great [working with the lads], brilliant. The dynamic is not what I expected, but it’s working. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses but I think we compliment each other well and I think the jobs we’re in are the right jobs for us.
“Unless you like dealing with paperwork, and policy and strategy and that, then this isn’t a good job.”
Clogher admits that the job has been very tough in the first few months and that a lot of time is spent in the SU, but is adamant that he’s enjoying it and is doing what he can to make the student life that little bit easier.
“I am loving it, it’s a rollercoaster. It’s a tougher job than I anticipated, I won’t lie, it’s longer days, and I’m here late into the night. The day of the repeat results was one of the longest days of my life, I left here at twenty to three in the morning I think, but I left here knowing that was that done and it was a huge day.
“If I was sitting the repeat exam and I failed something, and I emailed the person who I was told to email for support, and I didn’t get an answer, I’d be pissed off.
At the same time I’m getting a great a lot from it, enjoying it, it’s rewarding and it’s definitely enjoying it.”
Image Credit: Fiona Hughes