Academic Affairs Officer: James Donoghue on his experience, the USI and shut up and write sessions

James Donoghue is a Journalism graduate and the current Education Officer in the Students’ Union.

He believes the experience he gained over the last year makes him the best candidate for the role of Academic Affairs Officer. The new position on the SU is based around two pillars; support and representation, according to Donoghue.

“The first one is support so you’d be talking about exam results, changes in modules, disagreements with lecturers and grinds,” he said. “They’re the type of things you encourage students to come to you for.”

The second pillar is representation, which involves sitting on committees and making policy changes to represent students on various issues. “It’s not as glamourous, there’s lots of reading up to be done but I really do enjoy it.”

Donoghue is a firm supporter of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and thinks they’re valuable. “They have an excellent Campaigns Manager at the minute, an excellent Academic Affairs Officer and some other really good people who do some really good stuff. However I do think they need to branch out more in DCU and we do need to see them more.”

When asked about a referendum on DCU’s affiliation with the USI Donoghue said: “I suppose it’s up to the students to decide but my personal opinion on USI is that it’s a great thing to be involved in, in terms of campaigns nationwide and things that interest students.”

One of Donoghue’s goals as Academic Affairs Officer is to set up “Shut up and write sessions” for undergraduates. These will be three-hour study sessions in a pre-booked room for students to work without distraction.

“Every student says in the first week that they’re going to take notes and work every week. If a student says in week four that they’re struggling with this, it’s something they might be interested in signing up for.”

It’s also a way for students to socialise during the study breaks. “You would not believe the amount of students who come to college and struggle and they don’t talk to anyone. Coming to this, you’d get your 10 minute break and you’d get to have a chat.”

Another goal is to establish an exam results helpline run by members of Student Support and Development. “I have a good relationship with them and they have committed staff to me for this.”

If elected, Donoghue wishes to improve interaction with the Class Rep Council, along with the new Engagement and Development Officer. “We’d be coaching the class reps, talking to them one-on-one and making sure they feel comfortable in their role and what it involves.”

Donoghue admitted the competition for the role is tight. “It’s a really competitive race and we both bring different qualities but I think my experience is going to help me. The relationship you build up on committees doesn’t happen overnight and to have that coming into the role means I can impact a lot of policy changes that will happen this summer.”

Aoibheann DIver

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