VP Academic Affairs Candidate Brendan Power: Careers Week, extended library hours and an open-door policy

BY Aaron Gallagher

Brendan Power: "Having been the person who is going up to the SU to ask for advice, to be able to reciprocate that by giving it to someone else I think would be a very rewarding experience."

Brendan Power is a 21-year-old final-year Business student and is the current Chairperson of E-Soc. He is the sole candidate running for the position of VP for Academic Affairs in this year’s Students’ Union Elections.

Stating that he appreciates the substance of the position of Academic Affairs over others within the Students’ Union, his main manifesto ideas focus on the issues of grinds and tutoring, extended library hours, building on Careers Week and fixing the issue of repeats for INTRA and Erasmus students.

He is running uncontested for the position of VP for Academic Affairs and said that he wishes to give back to the students of DCU following his own positive experiences involved in the college, stating that his lack of experience in the Students’ Union until this point could bring fresh ideas and a new perspective.

“The reason I’m running is because during my time in DCU I’ve been in situations where I have needed support and I’ve needed the services of the SU. I haven’t been someone who has excelled academically. I did well in my Leaving Cert, came to college and struggled to discipline myself like a lot of people do.

“Having been the person who is going up to the SU to ask for advice, to be able to reciprocate that by giving it to someone else I think would be a very rewarding experience”, he said.

“I believe that I can also relate to people as well. I’m not someone who has been in the SU all their time in DCU. I was a class rep in first year and last year I didn’t engage with the SU at all, so I think bringing a fresh approach could be good too.

“The passion of giving students a voice is one of my core beliefs in life.”

Power explained that his experience of changing course and failing exams in the past means he has appreciated the work the Students’ Union had done for him as a student in DCU, but also noted that he would improve on approachability and accessibility for students, focussing on social media interaction over mass emails which he says are off-putting for student engagement.

“I think if you are in the SU you should be identifiable. If you are in a sabbatical position you shouldn’t have to wear a jacket or a lanyard to be identified, you should be an omnipresent person on campus. I believe you have to divide your time up between campuses.

“I think some people may see the SU jackets or the lanyards and they get the impression that it’s a clique that’s upstairs. I think the SU do great work and it will continue in the future, but I think you need to sometimes make a point of making it known exactly what you are doing and not to be afraid to proclaim it.

“Take for example the SU on Instagram, they haven’t posted since August last year. You need to communicate with people where they are. Maybe receiving mass emails every day doesn’t make students more interested.

“The average students in DCU keep their head down, do their bit of college work and enjoy themselves. They may not want to get involved in the Students’ Union themselves, but if they really knew what the SU was doing for them they probably would take a more active interest in it.”

When asked by The College View what he would bring by way of policies and new ideas were he elected to the position, he said that rearranging library hours to meet the needs of students at exam times as well as working of the issue of repeats for students studying abroad would be at the forefront of his time in office.

“Great strides have been made and it’s great that the library is open until 2.00am, but I think we need a bit more of a common-sense approach to the library’s opening hours. Not that it has to be re-invented, but long-term the grand vision would be to have a 24 hour space for students to be able to study.

“While that’s potentially not feasible in the immediate couple of months, there are very few people who would use the library until 2.00am in Week 1 or Week 2, but when it comes to Week 11 and the library closes quite early on a Friday evening, that’s when students are under pressure and feeling the urge to study.”

Questioned how he feels being the sole candidate running for the position of VP for Academic Affairs, Power said he was disappointed that he did not have other candidates to run against in this election, noting the competitive nature of other positions including President and Welfare & Equality.

He said that the lack of candidates running for positions across the board was to the detriment of both students and the SU because of a lack of engagement. He said it is an issue that could be easily solved with an information evening running up to the election in order to avoid candidates dropping out at the last minute.

“It’s disappointing. I would much prefer to run against somebody, or more than one person. The situation doesn’t really bode well for engagement levels in the DCU SU or amongst the student body in general.

“I know people did consider running and then for a variety of reasons decided not to. It’s a strange situation to be in because some of the other races are hotly contested. It’s difficult to make people motivated to help me when they are already helping their friend who is involved in a dogfight in a certain position.

“It has an anti-climactic feel to it and it’s difficult to get the people around you to buy into you when they assume that you have the position secured already, even though that isn’t the case.

“It’s something that needs to be worked on next year for sure, whether it’s having an information evening halfway through the year so people don’t end up decided to run for a position the week beforehand.”

Power also aims to improve on DCU’s Careers Week through making the event multi-campus. He also aims to bring DCU Alumni who have succeeded in their chosen careers into the college during the week as industry leaders aimed at each individual School and faculty.

Aaron Gallagher