Having previously disaffiliated from the USI in 2013 following a tight and hard fought campaign, two UCD students have officially launched a campaign for UCD to rejoin the Union of Students in Ireland.
Former UCDSU President and final year Social Science student Mícheál Gallagher and final year Politics and International Relations student Ciara McConnell are the two students behind the campaign. This campaign will be proposing a referendum take place among the student body on USI membership. The campaign and its supporters will be petitioning students in order to have a referendum take place.
In a video released by the campaign Gallagher stated UCD student’s decision to leave the USI in 2013 as “unprecedented” and based on “financial pressures” at the time. He goes on the claim that due to the Students’ Union more financially stable situation it is now the “right time” to rejoin the USI.
Speaking to The College Tribune, USI President Laura Harmon said she was “pleased” to see UCD students starting a campaign to rejoin USI. “We certainly would welcome UCD back to the national student movement should the issue be put to a vote and should UCD students vote to rejoin … USI would lend support to a re-affiliation campaign should a vote be called.”
UCD students continue to remain divided on the issue of rejoining the USI. Clíona Kennedy, a 3rd year Law student believes UCDSU should rejoin if a referendum was held. “I definitely think we should rejoin, our Students Union isn’t strong enough or vocal enough to represent us at a national level. We need the support of the USI.”
Alan McCarthy, a 3rd year Arts student, also believes UCD should rejoin but believes the issues within USI should also be tackled. “I think UCD should never have left in the first place. You can’t go in as one university and try to lobby the government; you need to do it as part of a team. Is the USI perfect? No, but you can only fix its problems if you’re in it, and it has a lot more positives than negatives in my opinion.”
Taking a different stance on the issue, 3rd year Arts student Rebecca Cleary, believes UCD should remain disaffiliated from USI. “In the past students have been let down by USI and I don’t see why that wouldn’t happen again. The money we were spending to remain in USI was also astronomical; I wouldn’t like to see our SU have to start paying that again.”
Gallagher has stated that there is a “huge sense of urgency” to rejoin the USI, referencing both the marriage equality referendum and the student contribution charge as key factors. This has raised many questions about the campaign as the student contribution charge has already been imposed by the government with Minister for Education Jan O’ Sullivan, who previously told The College Tribune that this will not change.
The campaign to rejoin USI will begin petitioning students and are seeking to have a referendum in place to coincide with the upcoming referendum on amending the UCDSU constitution.
UPDATE 21/01/2015 – Since going to print this morning it has been revealed that the Rejoin USI referendum will be postponed until sometime before the general election in 2016.
It has been cited that the reason for postponing the referendum is that the group are planning a change in tactics, and will no longer push for a referendum that will coincide with UCDSU’s upcoming referendum on Marriage Equality and the constitutional reform referendum this spring.