Doherty looks back on year of highs and lows

The Students’ Union received confirmation from the finance office last week that they are owed a third of a €1m reserve. According to Outgoing SU President Paul Doherty, this will be sufficient funding to get the new Student Centre project started.

The Centre, which will be a new build extending out from the Old Bar and possibly joining onto the InterFaith Centre, will provide DCU students with additional multi-purpose meeting rooms as well as possibly a small cinema and media room. Doherty envisages a referendum may take place next year on how the Student Centre will receive funding in the long-term.

In his end of year interview with The College View Doherty said he had what he describes as a “horribly brilliant year” in the role.

Looking back over his original SU President manifesto, Doherty is satisfied he has fulfilled his aims in office, though admits he is proudest of what he has achieved in terms of ‘student space’.

Another aim Doherty was pleased to achieve during his term was having the Old Bar re-opened earlier in the year. “It was a tough summer of arguing but just to see it for Clubs & Socs [day] – I was delighted with myself”, he said.

A significant issue to arise during Doherty’s tenure was the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) affiliation referendum and the fallout from it. Students voted to re-affiliate, however the referendum was later declared null & void as the SU was found not to have distributed adequate information in the lead-in to polling day.

Doherty said he chatted at length with USI President John Logue recently and the null & void status of the referendum will remain until another referendum is held in the first semester of next year. “I’ll vote on what’s out there because I’ve gone back and forth on the USI all year, I’ve been extremely pro and extremely against and I’ve ended up in the middle”, he said.

In terms of representation Doherty updated The College View on plans to work towards having a separate Postgrad Union in DCU. The first step will be taken next year with the election of a Postgrad sabbatical officer.

“It’s important that postgrad students are properly represented here”, he said, admitting “it’s tough for myself, Aaron and Neil to stand up and argue postgrad because it’s completely different”.

Doherty oversaw an entire rebranding of DCU SU at the start of his term. Despite being the third rebranding to occur in three years, the Donegal man feels it has been a definite success. “It’s really brought the offices up here to life, there’s great colour about the place”, he said.

Does he agree with the view often expressed that the SU offices are hidden away from the buzz of DCU student life upstairs in the Hub? “Completely… One of the things we looked at was we went outside and thought, right, how would your general student get to the SU?” he said, revealing they found “there are five physical barriers stopping people”.

The outgoing President doesn’t believe the removal of a weekly on-campus nightclub night has negatively affected DCU’s sense of community spirit. “Clubs and Socs stuff has shot up through the roof this year… we didn’t really have that last year because people went out one night a week and that was Toxic Tuesday”, he said.

Despite liking the idea of an on-campus social night, the outgoing President would advise his successor Clogher not to restart Toxic Tuesday. “It got to the stage here where it was getting far too dangerous – we were looking after our students but they were just putting themselves in more danger than it was worth”, he explained.

DCU SU were criticised for a lack of co-ordination with RAG Society over this year’s RAG week. According to Doherty, about six meetings were held between DCU SU and RAG Soc in the run-up to charity week.

“It’s tough trying to organise RAG week in DCU because college in DCU is very tough. People don’t have time to get involved. It wasn’t the most successful RAG week that we’ve ever had but we made more money than we had to pay out and that’s what you want to do”, he said.

Doherty revealed how the job can be very lonely and how he asked himself at various points during the year how he ever ended up in the role. “The pressure is pretty horrible… No matter what you do in this job you’re always wrong”, he said, adding that he would advise Clogher against letting the pressure take him over.

Doherty assumes a new role in the Office of Society Life next year and admits he is also looking forward to getting back to the books. “I’m going to be so much better organised this year”, he admitted.

Sarah Bermingham

Image Credit: Nicola Leddy

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