Helping with the vast numbers of students seeking accommodation has been his “most stressful time by far” according to New VP for Welfare and Equality Podge Henry.
“When the CAO results came out, especially in the last month of August, that’s when it really got very stressful with calls coming in all day. There was three weeks in a row there that myself and Niall only went home before eight o’clock twice.”
As DCU’s only accommodation officer, Henry oversees the DCU digs online platform which helps to house incoming students, especially first years and international students.
Since its introduction two years ago there has been a big increase in demand for the service, but the layout of the website and administrative system is outdated and time consuming.
“You’re wasting time doing admin work, but if you don’t do it, that’s students that mightn’t be housed,” he said. “There’s only so many hours in the day”.
For Podge, one of his biggest concerns for the year is representation. Not having visible SU officers on campus “might frustrate students because they might feel like they’re not being represented equally.”
“I know the issue with last year regarding campuses, so we’re going to show that we have a rota so that we’re all on different campuses. That would be the biggest thing for us, we want to make sure that all the campuses know that we’re there, that we have two hours a day in All Hallows.”
One of his biggest long term goals is to expand Smart Consent workshops in DCU, a project which didn’t come to mind when he originally wrote his manifesto.
“When I won the position … I met up with some students who I thought might have had ideas for the year, what they’d like to see done, and consent was something that came up. So I said I’d look into it and straight away I was like ‘look that needs to be tackled’.”
“It’s a discussion about consent as opposed to like a lecture, so it’s very interactive and light hearted as well, there’s no like graphic imagery or anything,” he said.
“We feel like often when people talk about consent, when I was talking to certain students, they thought it was just rape but often it’s not. It’s making sure that you communicate properly to consent, and to have a healthy sexual relationship with a partner.”
In the long term, he plans to try and get something into academics regarding consent, “so that in DCU there’s a module for students regarding consent and its credited towards them”.
Despite the stress since CAO results were released, Podge is enjoying seeing students return to campus. “We kind of get to enjoy getting a bit of a buzz back, having the students back.”
“With the first years, it’s nice to see that they come in and they don’t know what they’re doing and we’re the ones who show them around and give the orientation talks. This week was fantastic, just with the buzz of having all the students back and the events on.”