USI National Congress kicks off in Athlone

DCU SU are sending up to 18 delegates and observers to this year’s USI National Congress in Athlone this week. It will be the first Congress attended by a full delegation of DCU students since last year’s re-affiliation with USI.

The Congress is the USI’s decision making body where all affiliated Student Unions debate and vote on various issues submitted to Congress. Any member union can submit motions and amendments for Congress.

DCU SU has submitted several motions to this year’s Congress including lobbying to ensure student nurses are paid minimum wage and to organise an annual voter registration day at each college. Around 20,000 students were registered to vote last year following a vigorous registration campaign by the USI and affiliated Student Unions.

Congress is taking place in the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone from Monday March 23rd to Thursday March 26th. Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan, Chairperson of the HEA Tom Boland and several Trade Unions are due to speak at the event.

So how does it work? Motions are divided into three areas; Proposed changes to USI Constitution, Policy Motions for the year ahead and Policy Motions due to Lapse. Congress will also elect the next Officer Board at the end of the week following hustings, which take place on Monday evening.

Incumbent USI President, Laura Harmon, opened the Congress on Monday afternoon where she cited the USI Voter Registration Drive, The Chats for Change campaign and the USI’s involvement in the Repeal the 8th Amendment campaign as the biggest accomplishments by the USI over the past 12 months.

Kevin Donoghue, a former NUIG student and Glenn Fitzpatrick of DIT will compete to become the next President of the student organisation taking over from current President, Laura Harmon.

Sean Cassidy, one of the delegates selected to attend Congress on behalf of DCU SU, said that it’s the greatest annual opportunity to affect the decisions and policies of USI.

“It’s where policies and principles are debated and decided upon. Where we choose who will lead the national student movement for the following year. Where we engage in public discourse with HE sector politicians and officials. It is massively important.”

The College View will be reporting and live tweeting from Congress as events unfold. Follow us @thecollegeview or visit www.thecollegeview.com for further coverage.

Finnian Curran

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