Trinity students favour local issues over political campaigns

A survey compiled by Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union has found that the majority of students believe that the SU should prioritise college and welfare campaigns over social and political campaigns.

80 per cent of students surveyed said that representation in the form of class reps and advocacy on the College Board should be the focus of the SU. Just 12 per cent of social and political campaigns should be favoured over college and welfare campaigns.

The three most common strategic priorities cited by students for the SU, which will inform its future direction, were a focus on college campaigns, welfare campaigns and student services. More specifically, focus groups found these priorities to include concentrating on college-related campaigns rather than national ones, as well as “securing a suitable social student space” and “fostering a sense of community and place” on campus.

As part of the survey, students were asked to rank seven SU activities on a five-point scale from “very effective” to “very ineffective”. Students ranked political and social campaigns as being the activity at which SU is most effective but ranked campaigns for the improvement of student services as the activity at which it is least effective

Speaking to Trinity News, SU president Domhnall McGlacken-Byrne said: “Possibly the most interesting conclusion of the whole process [is] that students may be more interested in being represented as students, and not necessarily in their capacity as citizens.” He said that the SU is “sometimes seen as engaging in arcane political campaigns unrelated to our central purpose” which “plausibly explains our difficulties in engaging a wider student cohort.”

One student urged the SU to “focus primarily on things that only affect students and that only the SU can effectively deal with.” Some students surveyed are quoted as saying that the SU should be less concerned with its political stance and more concerned with issues within the city centre campus.

Stephen Downey
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