Expected proposals include:
-Ents Officer to be replaced by professional “Entertainment Manager”
-Referendum on USI to be held every four years
-Increase in number of class reps
-Underperforming sabbatical officers could be penalized
UCD Students’ Union is set to undergo a radical transformation pending the passing of a proposed new constitution.
The College Tribune understands the approval of the proposed constitution would lead to the abolishment of the positions of Entertainment Officer and Campaigns and Communications Officer in their current forms and that campus radio station, mind Belfield FM could lose SU financial support within two years. Approval could also see tougher checks to ensure sabbatical officers are doing their jobs, with a possibility of docks in pay if class-reps aren’t happy with how their superiors are performing. A referendum on affiliation with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is expected to be required every four years in the proposed constitution.
A nine-member constitution review committee have deliberated over the past number of months and have entered the final stages of discussion. They are expected to present the final draft of the proposed constitution in the coming weeks. All of the current sabbatical officers sat on the committee, with the exception of Stephen Darcy, the Entertainment Officer. Former UCDSU President and current USI President Gary Redmond also sat on the committee as did one of last year’s SU Presidential candidates Brendan Lannoye.
The referendum on the new constitution is expected to coincide with SU sabbatical elections on 29th February and 1st March.
Although still under consideration, it is understood the proposed constitution would lead to sweeping changes if passed. One of the most note-worthy of these changes is the reform of UCD Ents. Currently UCD Ents is headed by an elected student representative, the Entertainment Officer who also appoints a full time“Events Coordinator” to assist in the organisation of events. However the new constitution is expected to propose that this sabbatical position be replaced by a professional “Entertainment manager,” appointed on a three year contract that has to be renewed by SU Council annually. The position of “Events Coordinator” is expected to be abolished.
An elected student “Ents Executive” would retain the link between UCD Ents organisation and the student body with different executives responsible for different Ents activities. It is understood students appointed to the Ents Executive will only be responsible for on campus events in an effort to remove the possibility of night club promoters gaining financially from an elected position. It is understood an off campus Ents event would be the responsibility of the Entertainment Manager.
It is understood that the committee’s rational behind such a change is to “ensure losses are eased.”
Students elected to the Ents Executive would not be paid and the new constitution is not expected to specify the salary of the professional Entertainment Manager.
The proposed constitution is expected not to include the position of Campaigns and Communications Officer. It is understood it will propose that SU Communications should go under the SU President’s brief and campaigns under the brief of the new “Welfare and Equality” Officer replacing the current position of Welfare Officer. The position of Education Officer is expected to remain almost untouched.
The College Tribune understands that a new sabbatical position of “Graduate and Careers Officer” would be created under the constitution. Voting rights for that position would be held exclusively by postgraduate and final year undergraduate students. Bringing the total sabbatical team to four.
It is understood that the new constitution will propose student council vote on the performance of sabbatical officers. If they do not approve of the work level of a sabbatical officer that officer’s pay will be docked, if this occurs twice an impeachment referendum may be enforced. Sabbatical Officers will have the opportunity to appeal to the Independent Appeals Board which is expected to remain in place in the proposed constitution.
The proposed constitution is expected to also allow the election of many more class-representatives. Broad class-rep constituencies have been criticised in the past and the new constitution is expected to allow different class groups to appoint students to represent them. It is hoped that these new class-reps will be a more accurate reflection of different class groups in the university.
However not all class-reps will be expected to attend SU Council. Instead each rep will be expected to take part in a new system whereby they would attend their respective “College Council.” For instance an Science class-rep would attend the Science College Council. A number of class-reps from each College Council will be elected to the main SU Council, effectively becoming “super class-reps.”
Under the new system, with the addition of individual College Councils, greater powers would be given to positions currently known as Programme Officers. Currently a Programme Officer is elected from each of the university’s seven colleges, with two elected from the Arts and Humanities College.
Under the new proposals PROs would be renamed “Conveners,” one Convener would be elected from each College, including Arts. Each Convener would chair their respective college’s council, have the same executive power as a sabbatical officer and be expected to attend an executive meeting with other conveners and the sabbatical team fortnightly.
One of the responsibilities of the executive would be to approve the budget of the student newspaper the University Observer on an annual basis.
Although the new constitution is not expected to specify pay for the seven Conveners it is understood that they may be paid by the Union on a part time basis – but this would be reviewed annually. Adding seven people to the Union’s payroll at a time when cuts are being made elsewhere may be a point of contention as the proposed constitution is debated in the coming weeks.
The current position of “Executive Officers” such as the Gender Equality Officer would be renamed “coordinators” under the new constitution. It is understood, if the proposed constitution was passed, the coordinators would meet as part of a newly created “Campaigns Forum” which would be chaired by the Welfare and Equality [sabbatical] Officer.
The proposed constitution is also expected to address a number of other areas, such as a lax in the rules regarding the election of class-reps and allowing candidates in elections greater flexibility on how they spend their campaign money.
A significant amount of the proposed constitution is expected to outline new rules on SU finances, with new rules to be put in place on approval of spending and the publication of accounts.
As the referendum is expected to take place at the same time as SU sabbatical elections, sabbatical candidates are expected to play an important role in the outcome of the referendum.
The full and finalised version of the proposed constitution is expected to be published in the coming weeks.
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