Ricardo Valdes-Bango Curell is currently completing a PhD in biotechnology, is originally from Barcelona, Spain and is running for the position of President of the DCU Students’ Union.
He is running with the aim of giving more of a voice to postgraduate students, increasing engagement and transparency of the SU and transforming the image of the President into a more professional figure.
Running in a self-proclaimed “candidacy of protest”, Curell believes he will be a “breath of fresh air” for the SU. An active participant at Class Rep Council, Curell became involved in campus politics when issues arose over changes made to the SU constitution in semester one.
In a draft copy of the new constitution, it was proposed that the Postgraduate Officer would be removed as a member of the Executive. Afraid their representation would be diminished, Curell and other postgraduate students fought to retain the position and Curell decided to run for President.
“We said ok, let’s be loud. So we decided, ok, let’s run for president. And I guess that’s how I ended up running,” he said.
Curell has been publicly critical of certain aspects of the Students’ Union this year, saying a lack of communication has triggered a lack of engagement.
“I think this year is worse in comparison to other years,” he said.
“You need to show the value of what is there already, which is great. We have a lot of value in the Student Union but it is not transmitted properly.”
When asked what he could bring to the role in comparison with former SU Presidents, Curell said he had a “different perspective, from the point of view that I don’t think the SU needs to be organising parties all the time, which is basically what it does.”
“It does many other good things that are maybe not so popular but all the advertisement is around parties, festivals, wanting to do so many big things. I think I could be (sic) a sort of serious figure, on top of all these festivals.”
The three pillars of Curell’s campaign are professionalism, transparency and engagement. He believes the SU needs to tackle serious problems on a broader basis and encourage student engagement.
In terms of transparency, Curell believes making the minutes of Class Rep Council and Executive meetings more accessible and easy to understand is the first step.
“For me, the minutes at the moment are completely useless. The minutes should be a summary that allows you to sit and read and say, ok they discussed this, ok they concluded that, ok they decided this. And if it cannot be literally transcribed because it is a lot of work then why can’t we just record the meeting, do some post-editing of the minutes, make a summary, make bullet points. But make something that actually gives information, not a huge text that nobody is able to read, or if you read it you barely understand anything,” he said.
Curell believes that a system providing clear, accessible minutes will make people more aware of what is going on.
The College View asked what Curell believes the role of the President is.
“For me, the job is to be there. I liked what the other candidate, Rooney said, that you’re the first in in the morning and last out in the evening. I really share this point of view,” he said.
“Obviously you attend many meetings, obviously you have a a lot of duties that come with the package but mainly you have to be there. If somebody thinks about the Students’ Union, they have to think oh yeah, that’s this guy. This is the guy that came to me, or was there when I needed something.”
When asked if he felt able to meet the needs of both undergraduate and postgraduate students, Curell was confident.
“I was an undergraduate before I was a postgraduate. I don’t have a fresh view of their (undergraduates’) needs, right now, but I had my own needs at that time so it’s something that I experienced, which would help me understand whatever comes to me,” he said.
“As a postgraduate, obviously, I’m going through the process right now and I see there are really specific needs for postgraduate students that an undergraduate might not be aware of.”
“It’s an experience thing that I have and I think nobody else has.”
Image Credit: Rebecca Lumley