Face-to-face counselling, healthy living and trans-rights: Ronan Burke’s wellbeing campaign


Glasnevin native Burke hopes to bring a better sense of belonging to DCU students and “greater awareness of the amazing things the SU does behind the scenes.”

Ronan Burke is a class rep for his second year in Applied Languages and Translation studies course as well as working at the Student Union Helpdesk.

One of his major promises if elected is to lobby for more face-to-face meetings in DCU’s Counselling Service.

“Google Meets can be good but people don’t have a space on campus to take the calls. Should they just go into an empty classroom or use one of the sensory booths?”

It’s very uncomfortable feeling like everyone’s looking at you. Face-to-face settings would be better, I think we all have Zoom burnout at the moment,” he said.

Another significant mental health commitment by Burke would be to introduce more comprehensive check-ins for students on placements.

After speaking with teaching students, Burke felt that the weekly emails they received checking in on their wellbeing weren’t personal enough.

“They spend all day on placement and come home and have to start planning things for the next day and doing assignments as well, it’s a lot to deal with,” he explained.

He hopes to establish weekly in-person meetings for students to address any issues they might have the option of the meetings being held remotely for students who may be on placement outside of Dublin.

“I’ve been in touch with DCU Healthy and they have a lot of great resources that that aren’t being used so I’d love to tap into that for the benefit of as many students as possible,” said Burke.

He has also worked with SpunOut in the past about his experience as a trans person. “I did an article for them two years ago about my experience of being trans in an all-girls school. Then they reached out to me again about doing a video for an initiative to raise awareness for trans issues. Even in mixed schools trans people face a lot of issues. There was a lot of positive feedback which was really lovely.”

One of Burke’s other policies aims to establish dedicated gender neutral bathrooms on DCU’s St. Patrick’s campus.

“There are only one set of gender neutral toilets on Glasnevin campus and going all the way up to the second floor of the U Building to use them is inconvenient. A lot of people don’t even know they’re there. I would love to see at least one gender neutral bathroom in every building”.

“Pat’s currently has two bathrooms I believe, but they’re actually just disabled toilets. I don’t think it’s acceptable for one minority group to be taking over the space of another minority group. It could be as simple as just changing the sign on the door,” Burke said.

“I don’t think it’s acceptable for one minority group to be taking over the space of another minority group. It could be as simple as just changing the sign on the door”.

He also aims to re-introduce the €35 per month fee on DCU’s gyms, which currently offer rates by the academic year. Burke feels that paying such a lump sum isn’t accessible, especially for students who may be on placement for part of the year.

Another goal of his would be to ensure that all Health Centre staff complete mandatory sensitivity training before being qualified to carry out STI Checks, in order for students to be more comfortable.

His work at the SU Helpdesk has also led to Burke advocating for greater awareness of the SU’s Free drug testing kits.

“It’s not advertised. People can get them online from us just like the free period products and pregnancy tests. I think it should be advertised in the President’s weekly email,” he stated.

Burke highlighted what he thinks sets him apart from his fellow candidates: “My experience as a trans person has caused me to do a lot of advocating for myself and for other trans people so I have a lot of experience standing up for myself. I know a lot about advocating for important issues.”

Jamie McCarron

Image Credit: @rally4ronan on Instagram