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An Open Letter to General Election Candidates from UCD Students’ Union

A Chairde,

Students are already shaping modern Ireland. They are activists, entrepreneurs, researchers and leaders in their communities - our voices matter. We are not a homogenous group, nor should we be. We are from the length and breadth of the country and represent many diverse backgrounds.  As a Students’ Union, we work every day with and on behalf of our 33,000 students to create a better campus, better opportunities and better experiences for students, as well as lobbying for social change. We are asking all candidates seeking election to listen to the concerns of our thirty-thousand strong student population, and other students around Ireland. We want to see political leaders who will pursue policy and legislative reform, which will promote equality and equity in our education system and in society. Dear candidates, we are asking you to respond to the challenges and needs of students and young people in Ireland today. In order to succeed in winning the student vote in this election, you must champion equality and social justice in your plans for the future of this country.  You have to have a clear and actionable plan to tackle the housing crisis that is crippling our society and exploiting students and families who have no choice but to pay extortionate rents or pay for long commutes, in order to access education.  You must end the shameful and inhumane system of Direct Provision and ensure that Ireland is not only a welcoming country, but one where people can thrive. You must demonstrate how you aim to tackle the health crisis, and in particular address concerns around mental health, trans healthcare, addiction and substance abuse.  You must champion sustainability and be ambitious for a carbon neutral Ireland. We need to start a radical green transition that does not leave anyone behind.   And last, but certainly not least, you must act urgently to stop the commercialisation of higher education by addressing the funding crisis in our sector. The damage that is currently being done to our public education system through privatisation is paralysing the public goals of our Universities.  In the lead up to the election we will continue talking about the core issues that are affecting us as students. We urge candidates to listen and we will turn out to vote in large numbers and we will continue to fight for our values when the next government is in place.  Le Meas, Joanna Siewierska President, UCD Students' Union