James Alkayed, the new Chair of the UCD Societies Council, the representative body of all student societies in UCD, recently spoke to the Tribune about upcoming preparations for Freshers’ Week. Only appointed in July, he explained how he has been “getting to grips with the job, constantly reading into the job and meeting the different people [he] will deal with during the year and getting to know this year’s auditors and their respective committees.”

The job description for the Chairperson role noted how the Council is “responsible for the allocation of funding and grants to each student society, providing support and assistance to the officers of each student society in carrying out their duties, and oversight of all student society activities.” As Chair, Alkayed works with UCD’s administration to represent student interests on behalf of the societies.

Alkayed’s predecessor Eoghan Murphy stepped down following three years in the role.  Although James Green had initially been announced as his replacement, Alkayed confirmed that he had withdrawn from the job due to “unforeseen time pressures and changes in circumstance.” Subsequently, he was re-interviewed and offered the position.

Alkayed is confident in his ability to handle the role, which is contracted at 20 hours per week, in addition to the stress of his final year in college. He explained that he has “been balancing [his] degree along with very demanding extra-curricular activities for the past two years.” His involvement with societies included serving as Public Relations Officer of both the Literary and Historical Society and the Food Society during the 2016-2017 academic term, as well as being engaged in the public relations and media for more than 10 societies in UCD. When asked about his motivation to apply for the position of chair he cited his involvement in societies making his “college experience the best it could be,” and added “having seen how societies work on every level, I couldn’t resist taking it one step further.”

The immediate pressures of his new job include meeting with this year’s auditors and their respective committees, with the current aim of ensuring societies are prepared for Freshers’ Week. Alkayed confirmed auditor training was taking place on September 9th so auditors could be in “the best possible position to execute their events in Freshers Week and run their societies effectively throughout the year.”

With over 80 societies active in UCD, the job requires significant communication skills. However, Alkayed believes “societies are always incredibly engaging, easy to deal with and easily accessible.” His key goal for the upcoming academic year is “making Refreshers Day more engaging and allowing ourselves to involve students who may have missed Freshers Week or who don’t know societies exist.” He also asserted that he will be working to increase societies’ exposure in order to “highlight how important getting involved actually is.”

Following an election promise by Barry Murphy, the incumbent UCDSU C&C Officer, to help promote society events and collaborations between societies and UCDSU, the new Chair verified that he had already arranged to meet with Murphy once Freshers Week was over to discuss the matter.

Aisling Dowd – News Writer