Kevin Brennan, a final year Politics and Sociology student, is one of two candidates in the Campaigns and Communications (C&C) race.
He believes his mix of Union involvement and outside experience makes him the best candidate for the job. Brennan’s plans focus on making small changes to improve student engagement.
Brennan wants more consistency in terms of communication with students, especially by way social media. He noted that ‘online is the quickest way to communicate with the students these days.’ He also identifies the need for ‘more consistency with the website, [as] the website needs a revamp as well.’ Offline, setting up noticeboards in every faculty ‘would have a point of information on what’s happening in the Union, who we are, how to get in contact with us, and simple things like that.’
‘I think it’s simple small things that kind of, that will help it. We have seen in the past couple of years that the engagement is getting better online, in terms of Snapchat and stuff like that. We need to push it a bit more and kinda have regular daily updates of what we’re doing, when we’re free, and to show as well to the students that we are actually working, because I know a lot of the times a lot of the behind the scenes stuff doesn’t get shown a lot, and it’s kinda like ‘what are the Union doing for us?’ Going in in the morning, asking every Officer what are you doing, when you are free, and when you can call into us.’
The C&C Role
Brennan believes Barry Murphy has ‘done a great job in balancing’ the roles of President and Campaigns and Communications but agreed that the Union has taken ‘a hit in terms of communication’ due to a lack of C&C Officer over the past few months. He noted that having a C&C Officer would ‘take a lot of the pressure’ off the rest of the team, and made specific reference to the Repeal the 8th campaign.
The C&C Officer is head of the Campaigns Forum, which includes several co-ordinators. Brennan envisaged the co-ordinators ‘would come to me with ideas and what not, and I would help facilitate them, and they would try help get numbers in and people involved. We’d work together really like, you know what I mean, the only difference is they’re students and part-time, so they don’t have as much time.’
Regarding campaigns in general, he stated ‘I don’t think the role of the Campaigns and Communications Officer is to run their own campaigns, I think your opinion obviously matters, because you are being the one who is being full-time paid for the position, but it’s the student campaign you’re helping them run, it’s not just your ideas, you have to flesh out ideas with everyone. I don’t have all the answers for the environment, I don’t study it. People who do study Environmental Science or whatever, they could actually come and help and give us facts and what not, and see what is actually possible and feasible.’
Brennan’s manifesto includes environmental campaigns. When asked about his ideas, he noted the introduction of recycling bins in the Ag Building and said that UCD has gotten better with environmental issues over the past few years. He thinks a lot of it comes down to ‘just pushing the college itself to change.’
He mentioned the Green Campus Committee does a lot of good work and the Environmental Society, who he was yet to make contact with. He wants to get everyone to work together on a campaign to ‘make an impact in college and not just throw a few extra bins around the place.’ He suggested trying to replicate DCU’s plan to go green.
Other ideas include reducing the number of coffee cups used in the shops. Brennan works in the SU shops, and revealed that the Library shop uses 10,000 cups a week and suggested reducing that number by 50% would make ‘a massive difference.’
Brennan noted the majority of the ENTs rebrand would be complete by the time the new team take over. He wants more involvement and stated that ‘a lot of people don’t really realise that anybody can be on the forum’ so he would run a campaign similar to the class rep one to get more sign-ups.
He aims to have at least one person from every faculty to show that ENTs ‘can happen all around campus weekly and it’s not just music events or it’s not just drinking events.’ He wants it to be more commuter friendly ‘as not everyone is able to stay around at night time’ and have more non-alcoholic events. He mentioned using more local talent.
Regarding the UCD Ball, he listed the issues UCD has with hosting the event, but said ‘we should try and push to get it back on campus because I do feel like we would get a bigger following if that was the case. Saying that though, the Ball that is taking place this year, and that took place last year, was a brilliant event.’
The Union’s Budget
Brennan is optimistic that he can run all the Union’s campaigns within budget, and suggested other ways to increase revenue. ‘The SU has a massive budget already, I don’t think we can ever complain about that. We can always fight to get more. We can always get sponsors for events if we need, we can always look for other means, and I’m not too sure on how much the actual budget is being honest, but I think if the budget is reduced, we just have to work with it. I think there’s enough students willing to put in the time to make the effort. And by holding more events on campus that will reduce the cost again. I know it costs to rent out spaces in UCD, but I am saying it will reduce the cost a bit more.’
Brennan’s focus on small changes to improve communications, while looking to act as a facilitator of Union campaigns, offers a simple and straightforward approach to fill the current C&C void which will appeal to people who want more of the same from their Union.
Cian Carton – Editor