A referendum is to be held on the position of Trinity College Students’ Union President, Tom Lenihan, after he was found cheating in a third-year law exam.
A motion to hold the referendum was passed at a meeting of the TCD Students’ Union Council on October 15th. The motion was led by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Officer, Stephen Hatton, who claimed Lenihan’s presidency was causing “unrest among the college community”.
The passing of this motion means TCD students will be asked the question: “Do you support the removal of the current SU President from office?”
TCD’s Electoral Commission is organising for a vote to be held as soon as possible; it is understood that campaigning on the issue began last week, and voting will take place late next week.
Lenihan, who is the son of former Finance Minister, the late Brian Lenihan has been open about his struggle with depression and explained that he cheated in his exams during a difficult time in his life.
He was caught when a note he brought into a law exam was seen by an invigilator, and later described how he had suffered from panic attacks throughout the exam period, including on the morning of the exam in question. He said he took the note into the exam hall in a “random and irrational reaction”.
A disciplinary hearing for breach of the college examination rules decided that he would repeat the exam in question with his grade capped at 40 per cent.
In a statement made during disciplinary proceedings he said his behaviour had been “wholly wrong and uncharacteristic”.
“None of this is to excuse my behaviour, for which I take full responsibility, but it does provide context,” he said.
Speaking in an interview with RTÉ’s Ryan Tubridy, Lenihan said he proposed to take action on the issue of mental health and break down the stigma surrounding it during his time as SU President.
In an official response, TCDSU said: “We believe the outcome of the referendum will be a legitimate expression of the views of our members.”