DCUSU should stay linked to the USI

Emily Sheahan

DCU Students’ Union should remain affiliated with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) as to leave would have a negative impact on the DCU student body. The USI represents over 374,000 students across the country and can achieve things that smaller, individual unions may struggle to.

DCUSU President Vito Moloney Burke previously argued that the USI did not step up to the plate in campaigns they were running such as Shanowen Shakedown and Save Our Shepherd.

During Shanowen Shakedown, the USI not only participated in a large scale social media campaign, but also brought the issue to the attention of the housing department and Minister.

In December 2016, 94 per cent of DCU students who voted in a referendum about remaining in the USI voted to stay affiliated. Leading up to this referendum, the USI said they campaigned on DCU campuses, speaking to “thousands of students who knew about the work done by USI”.

“The results show that USI and the work of the national student movement is being recognised by students,” said former USI President Annie Hoey at the time.

During an emergency Class Representative Council, Moloney Burke stated that a “large portion of students were unaware of what USI does”. He was unable to back this up when questioned where he got such information and admitted that no survey had been carried out.

USI organise a number of events and campaigns that benefit student bodies across the country and DCUSU should not risk losing out on involvement in these.

One of these is Pink Training, a weekend-long event that focuses on activism and issues within the LGBTA community.

This year, 21 delegates from DCU went to the weekend in Galway. Should DCU disaffiliate, LGBTA students risk losing this valued resource.

Since discussions began, two societies have posted open letters expressing their discontent.

USI were especially involved with the Marriage Equality and Repeal campaigns. Moloney Burke said that the DCU student body is active enough to sustain these kind of campaigns on its own.

The Student Unions of UCD and UL – who are not affiliated with USI – carried out very successful campaigns in these matters. However, that does mean DCU should have to.

In the words of Moloney Burke, USI are an organisation of great intentions.

I am of the belief that USI has the power to act on these intentions and has done so successfully in the past. They could do more. But just because they could do more doesn’t mean that what they’re already doing isn’t worth sticking around for.

DCUSU should not risk putting such extra weight on their – and their successors’- shoulders when there’s already a representative body in place to support them.

The sudden push by Moloney Burke and his team to advocate for disaffiliation from the USI seems like more of an effort to leave behind a legacy for themselves than actually act in favour of the student body.

While the emergency CRC mandated the Executive team to take a neutral stance on affiliation, Moloney Burke made it clear that he pushed for the referendum as he believed disaffiliation was the right decision.

In reality, the DCUSU constitution schedules a referendum on USI affiliation every three years. There is simply no need to call one a number of months earlier than scheduled when the student body has expressed no strong interest in disaffiliation.

Emily Sheahan

Image credit: Alison Clair