Vice President for Welfare and Equality Cody Byrne reflects on the past year as his term comes to an end.
From organising protests against rising college fees to battling Hazelwood accommodation over rent and deposits, Byrne said that he has had a very busy term.
Last year his manifesto included establishing an accommodation website on the DCU Students’ Union page, having more sexual and mental health workshops and the creation of an online peer support system.
The Hazelwood battle and transport disputes were just some of the set backs which led to some of his plans never being completed despite working diligently throughout the year.
“When you start campaigning, you think you are going to have all this free time to do all these initiatives but unfortunately just so much comes at your doorstep that you can’t account for.” said Byrne.
Concerning the online support system he said “As much as I would love to be able to say that I did the online peer support system and all the software is there… I would be doing it an injustice by writing up a policy document just before I go, just so that I could say that I did it, as it would be rushed.”
Despite this, Byrne successfully changed several policies during his tenure such as introducing drug testing kits, universal access bathrooms and the ability to change the gender and name on student cards.
He believes his biggest win was in his involvement with Hazelwood accommodation which led to the removal of corrupt management and a €15 decrease in weekly rent.
The demand of social media was one of the greatest obstacles that Byrne had to face. “There were times when it was too much. I’m talking students adding you on Snapchat, writing to you at three in the morning on Facebook asking for a link to something when you’re trying to sleep.”
“I’ve gotten 1200 new friends since I started this job, which is silly… I think students, unbeknownst to themselves took advantage.”
Byrne looks forward to what Padraig Henry, next year’s VP for Welfare and Equality will decide to do with his time in office. “Podge does not need to live up to any previous welfare officer… he should play to his strengths.”
He thinks Henry will continue his involvement with events, societies and his involvement with disability rights, accessibility on campus and special needs. Byrne says that he should work hard and that the job is rewarding but stressful.
“I really, really loved my time here in DCU. I’m going to miss it, I’m struggling to think of where I’ll be in the next year.
“I know that there will be a few times that I’ll be lying in bed being like ‘I really want to go to Shite Nite, then the George, then to Coppers,’ but I think we all have to leave eventually, and I really do hope that people thought that I did a good job, that would be my biggest thing.”
Photo Credit: Eoin Cooke