A heated debate at last week’s Class Rep Council Meeting (CRC) led to the rejection of a motion to overrule the decision to nullify DCU’s referendum on its re-affiliation with the Union of Students Ireland.
The meeting was thrown into chaos as class representatives were left confused by the motion which was proposed to Council by EPL student, Seán Cassidy.
A ruling for the motion would have made last year’s Students’ Union President, Paul Doherty’s decision to nullify the ‘yes vote’ in the referendum void.
If this had happened, DCU would have immediately became a member of the USI and the SU would have had to pay a sum of over €60,000 to cover the cost of student levies due to the reversal.
CRC Chairperson, Rónán O Dálaigh, kept a cool head as he patiently explained the consequences of a vote for either way of the motion to those in attendance.
According to the SU Constitution under Article 11.2, Presidential constitutional interpretations can be overruled by Class Rep Council by means of a qualified majority vote.
Seán Cassidy said: “throughout my involvement in this union my guiding principle has been to have respect for democracy. This council must rule to either accept or reject the president’s decision and this has not been done yet.”
Doherty nullified the referendum on DCU re-affiliating with the USI because there the executive did not run an information campaign.
Under the SU Constitution members of the executive are responsible for the wording and promotion of an up-coming referendum.
Tensions mounted during the meeting as the lengthy debate saw conflicting views about the motion amongst Council members. Many class reps pointed out that Paul Doherty was not in attendance to defend his decision.
Welfare Officer, Ciarán O’Connor, was applauded for his opinion that “last year’s referendum was marred in controversy. We called a referendum for early in semester two next year. If we vote for the motion now we would be in the USI tonight. This decision would be marred in controversy also. A referendum in semester two is starting clean again. I call to draw a line under this and move on.”
EPL student and Chairperson of the Student Life Committee (SLC), Seán Rooney disagreed: “my last word on this is: I think the decision should be reversed. I was involved in SU elections last year and people were saying they would not vote because if they didn’t vote the right way, the SU would just overturn it. Whether you are for or against USI to stand over this is an impediment to the structures of DCU SU.”
Rooney was involved in the ‘Yes’ campaign during last year’s referendum.
Current SU President Aaron Clogher said that “he understood Cassidy put the motion forward for the right reasons.”
Following the rejection of the motion Cassidy said “although my motion did not pass at council I do stand by the argument I put forward. We are heading into next semester with the prospect of a referendum on whether to re-affiliate with the USI. Things need to be run a lot more smoothly.
“The Exec have said they are running a neutral campaign and this was endorsed by Council. The President has to ensure that his executive team keep to their word. They want this referendum done properly and so do I, so I’m hoping for a clean referendum, without controversy.”
A re-referendum on whether DCU should re-affiliate with the USI will be held early next semester.