As it happened: SU Elections ’14 Hustings

Hustings for the 2014 DCU Students’ Union elections are about to get underway in the Old Bar. Candidates will set out their manifestos and outline why they’re running for sabbatical and part-time positions in the union. Each sabbatical candidate will have five minutes to speak, while each part-time officer will have three. We’ll take you through all of the addresses here, while you can also keep up to speed with all the happenings by following our twitter hashtag at #DCUSU14. Tell us who you’re going to vote for in our opinion poll here and be in with the chance of winning a €50 One4all voucher!  

12:15 Candidates for the Office of Student Life position, Megan Kavanagh and Rebekah Stacey are first to take the floor. Rebekah says she hopes to promote the development of social media channels with the OSL.

12:17 Ross McCarrick, single candidate for the position of Clubs Officer is up next. The second year Communications student from Sligo outlines his qualifications for the role. He’s a footballer and handballer and wants to help promote smaller clubs.

12:20 Ross believes there should be a ‘DCU’s Fittest Faculty’ event along the lines of the ‘Ireland’s Fittest Family’ TV series.

12:23 The Societies Officer role is hotly contested in this year’s SU elections. Lindsay Butler speaks first and says she wants to hold monthly meetings with society chairs to get feedback.

12:25 Niamh Lister is a drama and GAA enthusiast and says, if elected, she will work to create stronger links between the societies in DCU and it’s linked colleges, as the colleges prepare to merge.

12:29 Erin Ní Raghallaigh has a friend, Brendan, speak on her behalf. He outlines that if elected she will promote more inter-society social events and a peer mentoring system for incoming committees.

12:31 Second year Multimedia student Jake Ryan wants to overhaul on-campus storage space for society equipment and create a greater link between the Student Life Committee and the Students’ Union.

12:33 Mark Young says students may recognise him as the exotic dancer from the Shite Night Hen Night and says being a part of societies has been the best aspect of his DCU experience. “The reason I’m running is so I can be more closely involved with the running of societies in DCU”, he says.

12:36 Outgoing Societies Officer Eve Kerton questions the candidates on how they intend to balance college work with the commitments of the role.

12:41 Another question from the floor for the candidates: what is the one thing they most want to achieve in the role if elected?

12:44 Candidate for Education Officer Seán Rooney asks the candidates how they would deal with tight financial resources in assisting societies.

12:46 Brendan says Erin would endeavour to ensure no favouritism would be shown to any one society over another while Jake Ryan says big money isn’t needed to clean up the storage space in the Helix, as students could help out with the work.

12:50 Candidates for the position of Convenor of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences are next to speak. Daniel Curtis would like to promote the diverse international culture and backgrounds of students in the Faculty.

12:52 Aoidin Fee says the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty stretches from the School of Communications to the Ireland India Institute and wants to set up social media channels to allow greater ease of communication between students from different courses.

12:55 Peadar Gill hails from the Aran Islands and says it’s “an awful pity” only three courses in the Faculty offer the Uaneen module as a contributory module as they’re the students who are most involved in DCU society life.

12:57 First year Journalism student Fionnuala Jones says her main goal is to create a Humanities ball so people from different courses will come together and socialise. She also wants to increase awareness around issues including anxiety and eating disorders.

12:59 Class rep David Matthews says he’s done his best to address any issues his classmates have faced and so has the experience necessary for the role. He wants to meet with Class Reps and form a Humanities Council for Class Reps in the Faculty. He also wants to put together a jobs board to help students in the Faculty find work.

13:04 Returning Officer Steven Conlon has a question of his own for the candidates: with budget restraints making further cutbacks to courses in the Humanities Faculty likely, what courses will they fight to retain and what courses will they let be abolished if it comes to it?

13:05 Curtis says he believes the study of culture and international studies is vital to our understanding of human life and believes the Faculty will fall if these courses are cut.

13:06 Fee believes the courses receiving least interest should be cut, however Gill and Matthews believe this wouldn’t be necessary as courses could be merged.

13:09 Jones says she will fight for every course as every course means something to someone and students have chosen to study the course. However, she recognised that University of Limerick run a joint Journalism and New Media course.

13:12 Two further questions for the candidates come from the floor: Are they aware of the major issues currently affecting students in the School of Law and Government and how will they ensure schools other than the School of Communications aren’t forgotten?

13:14 Next to the floor is Kim Sweeney, an Arklow science student who is the only candidate for the position of Science and Health Convenor.

13:16 She wants to improve communication between students and hold effective orientation week events for first year students so they can make friends within the Faculty. She’s starting her INTRA placement next week and says several people in her class still haven’t secured an INTRA placement so she wants to improve pre-placement preparation.

13:18 Conlon wants to know how she’ll ensure nursing students and others in the School of Health will be included. Sweeney points out she organised the recent Science and Health Ball, which health students were involved in organising and attended.

13:21 Next up are candidates for the position of Engineering and Computing Covenor. Jessica McGrath is nervous speaking in front of the crowd gathered but expresses her passion about increasing interaction in the Faculty.

13:24 Candidate Danny Walsh is a computing student from Collins Avenue and says public speaking doesn’t always come naturally to students in that Faculty. He says he’ll work to ensure students maintain interest in being active Class Reps by having regular meetings with the Convenor.

13:26 Jack Butterly is the only candidate running for the position of Business Convenor and says he’s running to improve information and encourage more students in his Faculty to get involved in student life and representation.

13:27 Despite there being so few courses in his Faculty, he says there’s a lack of interaction between students in different courses.

13:29 A brief pause for pizza follows before students gathered hear from the candidates for the sabbatical positions.

13:58 And we’re back… first up are the candidates for the sabbatical role of Vice-President for Welfare. Catherine Conneely speaks first and says providing students with information about financial assistance and creating strong links between Campus Res and the student body are important issues on her manifesto.

13:59 “I genuinely do care for everyone I meet and will strive to ensure that their welfare is my welfare”, Catherine states.

14:00 Next up is final year Communications student Eve Kerton who wants to build a rapport with every first year student if she’s elected as Welfare Officer.

14:02 “I’ve a few original ideas that I want to implement, one of these is ‘Gratit-Tuesday'”, Kerton explains as she outlines how she’ll ask students around campus what they’re thankful for and post up a link to the voxpop online each Tuesday.

14:03 “I’m going to have a column every week detailing what’s on, what’s free and what you can attend”, Kerton says, admitting students who don’t drink can often feel excluded from social events on campus.

14:06 Next up is Engineering student Ciaran Martin who wants to introduce phone charging stations around campus, a chill-out zone in each Faculty and water fountains.

14: 11 Mental health is a key aspect of Martin’s manifesto. “I don’t think it’s fair that students who have the courage to do something about their mental health issues are told they have to wait a few weeks so I really want to reduce waiting times for counsellors”, the Dublin student says.

14:16 Conlon asks the candidates how they will promote the Irish language on campus if elected. Conneely points out she will hopefully be a Gaeilge agus Iriseoireacht graduate by the time she’s elected if she is elected, Martin says all literature he would produce would be bilingual while Kerton describes through Irish what she wants to do, including creating Irish-speaking accommodation.

14:19 Next question for the candidates is how they plan on pursuing in the year ahead now that DCU students have voted to re-affiliate to the Students’ Union.

14:22 On the question of how the candidates would empathise with a student with a personal issue, Conneely says she’ll look to create a solution if there isn’t one there. “There’s no point in saying I can cure their problem as it’s unlikely I’ll have experienced it myself but I’ll try to point them in the right direction”,  Martin says.

14:24 “Personally I think it’d be worth having the doctor service on campus three days a week at a cost of €10 to students”, Kerton replies to a question on whether the candidates would support a reduction in days if the fee for the service was to be reduced.

14:30 Candidates for the role of Education Officer, Gary Gillick, Fionnuala Moran and Seán Rooney are next to take the stage. Up first, Gillick says the students union office is a very formal setting for students. “I’d like to promote allocated times during the week in specific spaces where we can have an informal chat”, he says.

14:33 “I do have the experience and I will share that experience”, Gillick says.

14:35 Moran wants to revise marking schemes and move away from 100 per cent gradings, as she appreciates the stress students can experience when faced with these type of assessments.

14:36 “I think it’s absolutely crucial for us to implement…  de-stress weeks which are a full week of activities where we are helping students chill out after a long day of study”, Moran stated. She also points out how she proposed the marriage equality motion to Class Rep Council.

14:40 Candidate Seán Rooney is also interested in student welfare issues as he outlines how he wants to roll out ‘Safe Talk’ suicide awareness training to all courses. “The skills that students learn through clubs and societies give them the skills they’ll need to progress in a 21st century work environment”, he says.  

14:46 The candidates are asked how they will help students who feel like dropping out after they’ve failed a module. “I hate my course”, Gillick admits, “but I hung in there just to get the degree”.

14:55 The Education Officers talk about how they will help promote positive mental health through their role should they be elected.

14:58 Gillick and Rooney admit their grasp of the Irish language isn’t great, but Moran outlines how she will push for a Cultural Officer role to be created in DCU so someone will be responsible for the promotion of the Irish language.

15:04 Also asked what courses they’d let be abolished if cutbacks forced it, Gillick admits he would look at the courses with the least demand first. “You can get away a lot more with cutting a humanities course than cutting a nursing course”, Moran pointed out.

15:07 There’s a brief pause in speeches as outgoing DCUSU President Aaron Clogher outlines the referendum on funding for the new student centre which will run concurrent to the elections next week.

15:09 “If you vote yes, you get a new student centre and you pay a €35 student contribution fee every year from next year, if you vote no, you get no new student centre and you pay a €38 student contribution fee every year from next year”, Clogher outlines.

15:14 The President outlines that facilities will be made available to societies in the Helix or other venues in 2015 / 2016 when the new build will be underway if the referendum passes.

15:18 Finally it’s time for the presidential candidates to set out their stalls. Wexford Communications student Kenneth Browne is first up and having suffered from severe depression, he outlines how he wants to make 2014 / 2015 the year of mental health awareness if elected.

15:22 “I come here with passion, experience and drive and I want to be able to give back what I’ve taken from DCU”, Browne says.

15:24 Next up is Allen Stevenson, an Education and Training student who wants to increase student involvement and representation on campus if he’s elected President. He wants to set up one web page where all information about clubs and society events will be available to students so they know what’s going on on campus.

15:26 “The Students’ Union President needs to be passionate, engaging and understanding and I believe I have these attributes”, the Class Rep outlines.

15:28 Postgraduate student David Whittle is the final SU elections candidate to address students and outlines how he set up the Green Society at DCU and has experience in planning as well as a law degree.

15:30 “I believe students have the ability not only to change their university but they can change society as well”, he says, developing on how he will fully support the marriage equality referendum in 2015 as it’s an issue that personally affects him.

15:32 “My whole thing is to do with getting involved”, Kenneth replies to a question on how best to promote mental health awareness and positive mental health. “If you’ve got something to do each evening it’s better than sitting in bed dwelling on your problems”.

15:33 Whittle believes clubs and societies should take a week or month to promote mental health amongst their members, while Stevenson believes the SU President should be available to students who need to talk on campus.

15:37 Candidates also field questions including how they’d promote the Irish language on campus and how plan on proceeding with the year ahead given the student vote to re-affiliate with the Union of Students in Ireland.

15:42  To combat student apathy, Browne says he’d like to set up more non-alcoholic lunchtime events like a cinema or zumba class. Whittle says if elected president “I’ll set aside a week where people who might feel a bit left out can join clubs or societies”.

15:44 Candidates are unanimous in stating that if students desired to re-run the referendum on USI affiliation, they’d follow the students wishes in an objective fashion.

 15:46 “If I had to save one, it’d be multimedia”, Browne states on the matter of what courses he’d keep should any have to be abolished. Stevenson is more keen to merge courses rather than abolish any, while Whittle is strongly advocates for no humanities courses to be cut.

15:46 And with that, hustings for DCU’s 2014 Student Union elections come to a close. Returning Officer Steven Conlon reminds those gathered that voting will take place on Wednesday from 10am -9pm and Thursday from 10am-5pm and students can vote at a variety of polling stations across campus.


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