Current Deputy President of USI and Vice President for Equality and Citizenship, Síona Cahill was elected as the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) President for 2018-2019 at the annual Congress in Galway.
The USI represents over 374,000 students across Ireland.
Cahill graduated in Maynooth University with a degree in BCL Law and Sociology. She served two terms as Maynooth University Students’ Union Vice President for Welfare and Equality before being elected to her USI positions.
“Students will be a force to be reckoned with in the battle ongoing about the future and current funding of higher level education in Ireland,” said Cahill after the election.
Cahill has previously worked on the governmental oversight group and steering committee for the National LGBTI+ Youth Strategy, the National Women’s Strategy committee, the High-Level Group on International education and numerous Higher Education policy level bodies focused on improving access, student retention, and increasing supports for marginalised groups.
She said the national housing crisis is pricing students out of accommodation and that she will try to tackle the issue during her term. “It’s time the Oireachtas reveal which model they recommend before our entire educational landscape collapses. With the Technological Universities enshrined into law, we must protect Students’ Unions and their ethos by working closely with allies in other unions. At all levels of higher education, we must ensure students are at the centre of decision making, and we must resist absolutely the commodification of education in Ireland,” she said.
“Students are waiting up to six weeks to maybe see a counsellor on campus. It is the very basis of our movement that we create the space to criticise and improve the systems we interact with as students. This will be a core battle into next year, and I am committed to it,” she added.
Cahill could bring increased engagement to a union that has had membership issues in referendums in recent years. Before the marriage equality referendum in 2015, she helped register 4,500 of Maynooth University’s 14,000 students.
“I look forward to working with the students of Ireland and come July 1st I will be reaching out to organisations and policy makers who share our goals. More importantly, I want to reach out to those who do not share our vision, yet, for an accessible education system in a bid to bring people on side,” said Cahill.
Image Credit: USI