Vice President for Welfare and Equality Podge Henry said last week that there many things he was proud of over his past year in office, but still battles the continuing accommodation crisis.
There were highlights and challenges that came along with the job, but nothing could prepare him for the accommodation outcry that would ensue.
Although the story of a huge influx in rental prices suddenly broke, Henry still thinks of the Shanowen protests as one of the biggest highlights in the last year.
“Shanowen shakedown. Why that is one of the highlights is, it was something that was unprepared for, showing the power of activism and the influence students have and we weren’t expecting it at all,” Henry said.
“When it lands, you’re left for a few minutes like what can we do here? We knew there had to be some sort of public outcry.”
“We had the students who were the driving force behind this, it was the students who came to the protest who were the driving force behind this,” Henry added.
In his manifesto when running for the position, Henry aimed to make big improvements in accommodation for both students studying in DCU and abroad.
He said that in the original manifesto he was highly focused on the registration of overnight guests on campus being extended and creating an online forum and digs platform to help students get accommodation, which are both yet to be achieved this year.
“I do hope that that will help the accommodation crisis within DCU because long term, we’re hoping to get some sort of legislation from this,” Henry said.
Another aspect of his manifesto was to act as a counsellor-like figure for students to come to with any queries they encounter. He believes that he achieved this and feels that he made some form of an impact in students’ lives.
Henry said that the hardest part of being this type of figure was taking each problem home with him so much so that his work phone became his personal phone.
Henry thinks that if he has even made an impact in one student who came to him struggling life, his job was a success.
“I can’t answer for the students who have come to me but I do hope that I have helped them in some way,” Henry said.
“There are students that I still catch up with and their whole college experience has changed, it might have only been a rough couple of times, whatever it may be, it’s always nice to see first-hand.”
Henry is happy with the achievements he has made but knows there is still much more that his successor Aisling Fagan will be up against.
The smart consent project was something he felt very proud of achieving as it is aimed to continue on for next and to have a huge impact on incoming first years including a sexual misconduct policy which has been written up alongside DCU to coincide with the anti-bullying policy.
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