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President's Update - Keep Having Your Say

A chairde,

Hope you’re all keeping well, safe and warm amid a succession of storm warnings as we kick off another important week here in UCD.

Hopefully by now you will all have seen the launch of the UCDSU Elections webpage. Nominations for the annual elections open today and I’d encourage you all to go on and have a look as well as checking back for updates over the coming days and weeks. The annual Students’ Union elections gives every student a chance to shape the direction of the organisation for the next year.

There is a range of information over at our one-stop-shop but we are all available to chat to any student who is considering going forward. You’re more than welcome to call shoot us an email if you’d like to call into our offices for a mug of tea to run through the process of running.

After a couple of years of watching things unfold through Zoom, we are looking forward to at least some elements of in-person campaigning returning, as well as the return of in-person hustings.

Running for an SU position can be a bit daunting, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to have your say in how the organisation works to make UCD a great place to study. If you have a friend who you think would be a good shout for a role, use our recommend a friend function on the elections webpage to give them a bit of a confidence boost!

Reflections on last week’s protest

We’re in a really exciting time for student activism on campus. Last Monday’s ‘It’s not me, it’s UCD’ protest saw almost 400 students gather outside O’Reilly Hall to demand action on sky high rents, protection of student support services, treatment of postgraduate student-workers and the need for staff and student interests to prevail over corporate interests in UCD.

Considering the last two years, for many students this will have been their ever experience of a student protest. Our executive team and very sound volunteers spent a number of weeks doing lecture addresses, running roadshows and canvassing residences to chat to you all about these core student issues that we have been campaigning on for a while now. We’re seeing a very clear demand for change in direction from the University Management Team from a commercialised view of higher education, to an agenda that protects student and staff welfare by attempting to remove barriers of access to completing a degree in UCD.

We were very grateful for the support of the staff unions, with whom we share range of grievances with university management. A large amount of students also reached out to us to say that they supported the demands of the campaign but could not attend for one reason or another. Without wanting to get too drawn into a conversation about turnout and what it means for a demonstration, we were delighted with your engagement on what is only the start of this conversation.

What’s next?

It became clear to me as the week rolled on that this fight is not just about the student condition or the treatment of one particular strand of the UCD community, but for the very heart of the higher education sector. On that front, students and staff have to continue to organise and to channel our anger under one collective voice as possible if we are to achieve meaningful success. There’s strength in numbers, and a quick walk through campus residences flooded with posters will tell you that students are prepared to stand up against unsustainable rent increases.

With that said, there are things that can happen quite quickly on the part of management in order for UCD to demonstrate that it does in fact reciprocate the love that its students feel for it.

· Seek agree with the Departments of Housing and Higher Education to secure the provision of affordable cost-rental style accommodation on campus for the remaining phases of the Residential Masterplan.

· Commit to significant staffing increases in our student counselling service to deal with soaring waiting lists in line with international best practise.

· Expedite efforts to improve pay and conditions for all postgraduate workers, as part of an urgently needed broader effort to place workers rights at the centre of all decision making processes in UCD.

Management need to come to the table and face these issues head on. Tokenistic engagement with SU representatives to date haven’t delivered for students. We need the UMT to engage in meaningful talks on the future of student life and escalating cost of studying at UCD.

If the current vacuum of leadership continues to fall below the standards needed going forward, your Students’ Union has a clear mandate to engage with Government officials to seek intervention and escalate actions if necessary.

Bígí Linn!