Students’ Union President Aaron Clogher has described how DCU’s free fees stance, which was voted for by students last year, is often met with laughter during policy discussions.
“The stance puts me in a position whereby when I say it to people they laugh at me and that’s the reality. It was an idealistic vote but it’s what we voted and it’s what stance I have to bring to people when asked”, he revealed.
Students opted for the fully-free system for third-level education, funded by conventional taxation, in last year’s referendum. Other options put to students included a graduate tax, a student loan system, means-tested tuition fees and a student contribution charge of €3,000.
Clogher stands behind the decision of the student body following a year of controversy and criticism levelled towards the SU surrounding referenda results.
Despite last year’s vote on reproductive rights, in which DCU students voted to adopt a pro-choice stance, Clogher isn’t sure there would be sufficient interest among the general student body to justify running buses to marches, etc.
“I’d be worried as to the levels of interest in the general student body in going out there en masse representing this view”, he said, adding “we’re happy to try more to promote our stances and policies”.
The SU President also revealed that as of yet there is no movement on the re-run of last year’s Union of Students in Ireland affiliation referendum which is due this semester, after last year’s result was deemed null and void.
However, he pointed out that interaction between DCU SU and the USI has been much more positive this year. As well as the other sabbatical officers, he has been in regular contact with USI President Joe O’ Connor since the beginning of the academic year.
“We have very good dialogue in place. They have put a proposal to us on how we can work together whether we are in or out of the USI. There have been a lot more positive interactions this year.”
The USI have also offered DCU two places on their ‘Pink Training’ programme this year. Welfare Officer Lorna Finnegan and another delegate will receive training in modules on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.
Clogher, meanwhile, will also be given access to the National Council of the USI in the coming weeks to see how they operate.
“I think it will give us a clearer picture going into a future referendum”, he said.