With only one position contested in this year’s race for sabbatical success, The College Tribune sits down with the candidates for Campaigns and Communications. second up, Law & Social Justice Student Ryan Oakes.
Ryan Oakes, a second year Law with Social Justice student, is one of three candidates competing to be the next Campaigns and Communications (C&C) Officer for UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU). Oakes is the current Business and Law Convenor, and previously served as a Class Rep while in first year. He spoke of national and local issues while setting out his plans for the year, should he be elected.
Rather than having the Union lecture them about topics, Oakes’ general plan for both campaigns and communications involves “informing people on the issues and listening to what they want to do.”
One of Oakes’ main campaign ideas centres on the Student Code, a document which many students go through UCD without ever knowing of its existence. He accepted that awareness of the Code was an issue itself, but claimed that “the people who are aware of it do think it’s terrible.” Oakes believes the student code is “not adequate, at all. It tries to acquaint the university’s good name with how students are expected to behave towards one another which I don’t think is right.”
The Code is set to be reviewed for next year. He wants student voices to be heard during thus process. For Oakes, the solution is to get students to take proactive action to reimagine it, rather than let UCD’s administration design it themselves. He believes it needs to place more emphasis on how students behave towards each other.
Despite UCDSU’s recent attempts to focus on campus-based issues, Oakes spoke of wanting to get involved in national issues. Citing the issue of student fees, he queried, “A lot of people will have a stance on fees but is it an educated stance?” He wants a more “intelligent discussion” about fees.
For his local campaigns, Oakes wants to raise awareness of the Union’s presence on campus. He said that UCDSU does a lot for students, but does not take the credit for it. Oakes aims to communicate the Union’s message through vlogs and more casual means, which conforms with his recurring emphasis on making information available to students.
He spoke of wanting to implement public speaking training for Class Reps, in order to improve their communication skills and ensure they can carry out a sufficient job in representing UCDSU to students. His manifesto also set out plans to expand the Campaigns Forum through the creation of sub-committees.
Oakes declined to offer any major assessment on the work of Cian Byrne, the current C&C Officer, on the basis that his full term has not yet been completed. He noted how Byrne was a recognisable figure with a strong personality, and that the C&C Officer needs to be seen on campus.
Given his background in UCDSU affairs over the past two years, Oakes has a good working knowledge of the Union. However, the same can be said for his two opponents. While they all have support within that niche themselves, there is no distinctive alternative available for students who may be more frustrated with how UCDSU operates. Disaffected voters looking for something different within their Union may find it difficult to pick a candidate in the only contested Sabbatical position this year.
Voting in the C&C race takes place tomorrow, March 8th and Wednesday, March 9th, with the majority of faculties voting on Wednesday. Polling stations and times are available here. You can view Ryan’s manifesto here.
- Cian Carton, News Editor