The reputation of the DCU Students Union improved drastically over the last academic year, according to outgoing President Niall Behan.
Despite the last Class Rep Council (CRC) of the year barely reaching quorum and the low voter turnout for this year’s SU election in comparison to the one previous, Behan stated that attitudes towards the SU have changed.
“For the few years gone by, I’ve seen joke candidates go for election, I’ve seen people go for it because they didn’t want to leave college. I think that, although that’s still possible, that people really should be voting for people that are going to represent them.,” said Behan.
He attributed the positive atmosphere around the SU to its social media presence, branding, the weekly and newsletters.
Behan spoke about the challenges of working with a team that has been elected rather than hired, however the various personalities that come from elections contributes towards the general feeling of the SU.
“As a team we’ve definitely had our difficulties but the Union is bigger than one person and everyone works together to keep the Union going,” he said.
The Hallowe’en Ball was a particularly proud moment for Behan as he and his team held DCU’s first festival which All Hallows Campus hosted, the third Campus involved in the DCU amalgamation.
Wellness Wednesdays was a trademark initiative from this year’s SU that Behan highly regarded and mentioned also Mental Health Week and the Sustainability motion and offering cheap TELF courses at €250 rather than €800 as some of the SU’s best work this year.
Among other high points for Behan as President was the personal one of meeting Bill Clinton, when the 42nd President of the United States accepted an Honorary Degree from DCU.
With high points were also low ones. Behan reflected that helping and talking to students who were going through unplanned pregnancies was one of the most difficult situations he encountered which he said “stopped him in his tracks.”
More emphasis was placed on this issue due to former UCDSU President Katie Ascough being impeached for removing information on abortion from leaflets in the University.
“A lot of my relatives thought I was impeached and I had to remind them that they might have dyslexia,” he joked.
Behan also spoke of how the position changes your behaviour. He “would never be seen at a protest” as “its just not in his personality,” he said. Yet, as DCUSU President he attended several during the year.
“The SU is more of a vehicle for the students and should be used to represent their opinions and views,” said Behan.
Even with Vito Moloney Burke as DCUSU President Elect, Behan continues to carry out the duties of the position, as he was a leading protester against the Shanowen rent increases and even partook in the ‘sleepout’ recently.
Behan who is renowned for injecting humour into CRC and his personaility talked of life after he officially leaves the SU.
“I’m hoping to detox from such a prominent position and hopefully get into the tech industry and if not go abroad and seek opportunities.”
One of the major disappointments for Behan was not being able to open the new Student hub but hopes he and Vito can “hold hands and cut the ribbon together.”
By Cáit Caden
Image Credit: DCUSU