Students’ Unions across Ireland are losing engagement and relevance and becoming too involved in national issues, according to Vice President for Education and Placement with the Student Union at Dublin City University.
In an interview with The College View, Mathew Davey said that sabbatical officers often do not focus enough time on issues within their own institutions.
“We are using too much of our time and resources on activities outside of college rather than meeting the many diverse needs of our students first which is our primary job, in my opinion,” Davey said.
Mathew has been predominately based on the St. Patrick’s College (SPC), where he is a legacy student of the Bachelor of Education Programme, throughout his role with the SU. He feels it is “extremely important” for SPC to be represented.
Improvement of engagement with students across all campuses was one of the areas that Mathew wanted to focus on, which he stated in his manifesto last year: “I always think that there is room for improvement when it comes to engagement.
It was not uncommon for there to be a sell-out SU event each week. If you are seen as approachable and helpful as a sabbatical, you will receive a plethora of emails, phone calls, texts, Facebook messages and in office queries from students on top of your commitments. Sabbaticals are only one person with 24 hours and it can be tough.”
With regards to the rest of his manifesto and aims for the year, Mathew admits that it was “probably too ambitious.”
“Included in that (manifesto) was the issue of printing credit, improving the library both in terms of opening hours and space and the INTRA portal page.”
A prolonged bout of illness which prohibited him from work for 10 weeks had an impact on his ability to reach these goals. However, he recounted some of his highlights from the year:
“Some of these were organising the graduation reception on SPC and Drumcondra Graduation Ball, playing a big role on the national campaign for teacher expenses and for the reinstatement of Gaeltacht fees run by USI.”