DCU Student Union President Niall Behan hopes to cater to all DCU campuses and students equally during the second year since the amalgamation of the student unions from St. Patrick’s College and Mater Dei Institute into one DCUSU.
Behan said he realised the importance of student representation across all campuses during his campaign when voters expressed feelings of disengagement with their students’ union and university.
“I think more and more are witnessing that there are actually different types of students on different campuses, which is something that I think needs to be respected,” said Behan. “When you start painting everyone with the same brush, it only works so far.”
In an effort to bring “buzz” and “college atmosphere” to all DCU students, the SU has scheduled events across all three campuses including a flagship initiative “Wellness Wednesday”, a weekly event focusing on the importance of college well-being, featuring classes on mindfulness, study skills, getting better sleep and improving one’s overall health.
Behan also hopes to make changes to the Class Rep Council model to accommodate the growing number of class representatives.
“The model was made when there was three, four, five thousand students in DCU and now there are seventeen thousand and with the next strategic plan in the next four years there will be twenty five thousand students, so we are trying to put in a place, a structure whereby everyone can have their voice heard, but in the right forum,” said Behan.
In late October, newly elected Class Reps will receive training from NStEP, a “national student engagement program run across all sectors and universities and that’s going to be used to empower class reps,” said Behan.
The program will also feed into the new CRC structure Behan hopes to create that will allow class reps to meet with staff on a smaller, more class-related level, as opposed to bringing very course-specific issues to the entire CRC.
Behan also hopes to bring DCU representation to national issues, specifically the introduction of a loans scheme for higher education funding and the abortion referendum.
On October 4, DCUSU will take part in a USI march lobbying for publicly-funded education as opposed to the installation of a loans scheme that students will have to pay back after graduation.
Behan stressed the importance of educating students on the effects a loan scheme would have on their lives upon finishing college:
“The money that [students] will have to pay for college fees will be absolutely ten times more than they are paying now, but it’s a loan, so you’re not even going to see the detriment effects of it when you have finished college.”
DCUSU will also be taking part in the 6th Annual March for Choice on September 30, but Behan said there will be more of a focus on lobbying against the loans scheme first semester, then increased focus on the abortion referendum once the date is announced.
“We will be concentrating more on Oct 4 for the higher education funding because when the referendum is announced, probably in May or June, we will be getting all students out for the end of the semester marching for body autonomy,” said Behan.
Image Credit: DCUSU