The overarching theme to Thomas O’Dowd’s campaign is bringing back a sense of community to DCU.
O’Dowd, who normally just goes by his initials – TOD, is the first Student Union Presidential candidate to run unopposed in a number of years, but it’s not something that has changed his campaign trail.
“It doesn’t change anything…the way I’m running my campaign is the same way I’d be running if I were running against four others” O’Dowd told The College View.
For TOD, leadership is nothing new, having been class rep for four years running. It’s this experience with leading that makes him a good fit for the role, according to the Meath native.
“Currently I chair the DJ society so I’ve experience working with a team, experience running events and dealing with management and issues” he told The College View, “ I was also events officer this year on Snowsports so I put a lot of work in along with the chairperson to ensure the [ski] trip would go ahead…I just feel that the relationships I’ve built with staff are positive and I’d love to carry on from my years of being class rep and give back”.
While TOD might be running unopposed its clear it’s just another step on the ladder for the 21-year-old Law & Society student, who has proven to actively involve himself in all aspects of DCU life.
As well as being a part of the DJ Society and Snowsports Committee TOD plays guitar, is a member of DCU powerlifting and is an advocate for physical and mental health.
He also has event organising experience, including Bets n’ Boogies, the aforementioned DCU ski trip and, most recently, Live at the Lawn, an outdoor concert for DCU students which took place last September – “I think it was the best one yet” said TOD, who took to the stage himself for the event.
His main priority is the return of that “pre-Covid buzz” to campus, bringing back that “sense of atmosphere” and community to the college which he feels is missing since the return to lecture halls.
This can be fostered through events, clubs and societies, according to O’Dowd.
“The one thing that a lot of people in final year have said to me is that they really regret not getting involved. I think a lot of people after Covid were like ‘What do I have from College other than a year and a half online? Then they’re in final year and they’re like ‘I need to fit everything in!’”.
“I think a lot of people after Covid were like ‘What do I have from college other than a year and a half online?”
TOD’s manifesto touches on increasing student engagement, through a clubs & socs awareness campaign, increased extra-curricular activities and “activities that wouldn’t just be centred around alcohol”.
“I think there can be so much pressure for students to get out and drink. I didn’t drink in first year and I think there’s an idea that activities like freshers week need to be centered around alcohol but they don’t – they can be and they can be great, but there’s nothing to say you can’t do something without alcohol” said O’Dowd.
Building on his event management experience is another of his manifesto promises – A multi-campus festival, something which has been used in campaign manifestos in previous years to no avail, largely due to the closure of campus in March 2020.
“I think the steps are in place and conversations have been had….the way I’m picturing it would be a day long party” said TOD, who believes his experience could get the idea over the line and hopefully, on to all three campuses – Glasnevin, St.Pats and All Hallows.
While O’Dowd can be commonly found behind his decks, so too can he be found behind his desk – his course , law and society, means he has, in his own words lived “that corporate life”.
“My internship was with Mason, Hayes & Curran last year…the big suited life for a year, it was great, I loved it” the final year student, whose manifesto promises improvements to the intra programme, told the College View.
“I felt my experience was great…my intra co-ordinator was always there and really helpful… but I was speaking to other students in my year with different co-ordinators and they heard nothing, not even the mandatory phone call,” said O’Dowd.
The former law firm intern hopes to tackle the communication issues while on placement as well as update the “outdated” Intra portal in the coming academic year.
This would also extend to DCU’s nursing students who are routinely in placement across a range of hospitals and care homes.
“Communication with healthcare workers. When they’re on placement it’s definitely another issue. A lot of the time these students feel forgotten about by not just the union but the college,” said O’Dowd, who wants to put in place minimum requirements for more communication across placements.
This would help students nurses have reassurance “like ‘I might be down in Beaumont but I’m still here’, DCU are still like ‘we’ll look out for you in Beaumont’”.
For TOD, the only candidate running for this year’s DCU Student Union president, the mandate has been there from the get-go, “I’m getting a lot of positive feedback from people; I’ve a great team behind me and the support is there”.
As the online election polls are set to open TOD will remain “on the ground, meeting as many students as possible”, while also encouraging students to vote, for both full time and part time officers alike.
“A lot of students are unaware of the work the Student Union do and the power that they have to control what the work is…students have a voice and they’re given an opportunity on Wednesday and Thursday to vote. It’s a real opportunity to have your say on who will run DCU’s student body next year”.
Voting opens on Loop on February 16th, information on all candidates can be found here.