DCU’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) society are appealing the decision to not accept the results of the referenda held during the Students’ Union (SU) election.
On March 20th, the Class Representative Council (CRC) voted against accepting the results of the referenda. As a result, it was decided that the referenda would be run before the end of the semester.
SJP delivered a motion contesting the CRC’s decision at an emergency CRC held on March 26th. The motion said the CRC’s vote was unconstitutional based “on the grounds that the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanction] referendum achieved all constitutional requirements.”
According to the chairperson of DCU’s Students for Sustainable Drug Policy (SSDP) society Declan Moore, SSDP was told that it was a possibility it could be brought to the CRC – not a guarantee.
Moore said: “We wished SSDP had been informed of the decision to bring the matter before CRC because it would have allowed us to partake in the discussion in some way and help us prepare for the next steps in this campaign.”
SJP similarly faced issues with miscommunication, particularly with Democracy & Development Officer Podge Sheehan. Stephanie O’Toole, chairperson of SJP said that Sheehan, in general, has been co-operative and operated an “open-door policy”.
She said: “He is genuinely very excited that students were engaged in the democratic process in DCU.”
Issues only arose for SJP after the referenda results were not announced. O’Toole said that the SJP campaign team were only made aware the referenda would be voted on in the CRC after receiving a screenshot of the motion by a class representative.
“We were not told by Podge or the class reps… I mention that because I think there was an onus on the class reps,” she said.
While a class representative did tell SJP about the CRC motion, the class representative in question was Cormac Ó’Floinn. Ó’Floinn is an Ordinary Member on the SJP committee.
O’Toole had meetings with both Sheehan and SU President Vito Moloney Burke on March 27th, but can still say “nothing concrete” about the referenda.
Moore said that SSDP has been “fairly underwhelmed” by Sheehan’s performance on the issue overall. He said: “We were making attempts to get a referendum since early semester one but it would appear Podge was never available to meet with us in all that time nor able to respond to any mails.”
Sheehan told The College View that both societies were informed that the issue would be brought to the CRC. He added that: “a formal notification was not issued which appears that this may have contributed miscommunication.”
Moore attributed the lack of communication to “pure complacency” to engage with SSDP. “I think us not being contacted about the decision is essentially just laziness,” he said.
He added that he supports SJP in their effort to contest the CRC’s decision to not accept the referenda results.
SJP tried to reverse the decision at the last emergency CRC, but there were not enough class representatives present for a vote to be considered valid. The society plans on holding another emergency CRC as soon as possible to try and hold the vote.
If they are unable to hold the vote or if the CRC does not accept their appeal, both referenda will have to be rerun. They would take place during week 11, along with another new referendum on introducing smoke-free zones on campus.
Sheehan said that having the referenda so late in the semester could present challenges around scheduling, particularly as students focus shifts toward completing course work.
He added that: “it certainly can be done and we shouldn’t let scheduling issues get in the way of democracy.”
Brendan Fernando Kelly Palenque
Image Credit: Sonja Tutty