Co-Editor Emma Hanrahan speaks with Neo O’Herlihy, to find out what the role of Entertainments Officer entails.

The Student’s Union is facing an engagement issue. The disconnect between UCD students and their student representatives has resulted in student apathy, poor voter turnout, and in 2021, a vote of no-confidence driven by the Instagram account ‘UCDConfessions’ which resulted in a by-election.

Since then, UCDSU vowed to improve its engagement levels to little effect. Admittedly, before I started writing for the College Tribune, I knew next to nothing about the Students’ Union and the work that they do. Even now, after three years of reporting on student politics, I am still uncertain about what they do on a daily basis.

Here is what I do know: there are six sabbatical officers and six editions of The College Tribune published in an academic year. SU Elections are held in April and require students to vote for the candidate they believe to be the best fit for each role. However, very few students actually know what each sabbatical officer does.

In an attempt to remedy this, the College Tribune will run an SU Series in which I follow a Sabbatical Officer for the day to get a better understanding of their role. Each print edition of the Tribune will feature an interview with a different Sabbatical Officer. I hope that by the end of the spring trimester students will have a better understanding of the Students Union and will be more confident when voting in April.

The story below follows Neo O’Herlihy, the UCDSU Entertainment Officer, on an average day on campus.
At 9 am on a Tuesday morning, I met Neo at the Students’ Union offices in the Student Centre. Everybody around us was moving at a slower pace than usual as we were in the first week of the ‘fieldwork’ break in the spring semester. However, despite only being in March, I was catching Neo during one of his final weeks as UCDSU Ents Officer. Neo recently announced that he would be running for re-election in the 2024/2025 UCDSU Executive Elections and Sabbatical Officers must take time off while campaigning.

“This initiative, like most SU projects, was first conceived months ago, however, it is only now becoming a reality as there are many steps to go through before an idea can come to fruition.” – Neo O’Herlihy

Neo O’Herlihy brought me into his office which he shares with the Education Officer (Sarah), the Graduate Officer (Marc) and the Campaigns and Engagement Officer (Miranda). He slowly set up his desk for the day and offered both myself and Sarah, who was quietly sitting at her desk in the corner, tea or coffee.

Then, he received an email that enlivened him more than coffee ever could, the email included an image of the prototype for reusable drink covers which he ordered for the UCD Ball at the end of April. The covers are a collaboration with the Welfare Officer and Non-Alcoholic Events Officer and prevent anyone from spiking drinks. They are elasticated and fit around the rim of a glass with a space for a straw. The covers then turn into scrunchies that people can conveniently keep around their wrists when not needed.

This initiative, like most SU projects, was first conceived months ago, however, it is only now becoming a reality as there are many steps to go through before an idea can come to fruition. Neo wanted the drink covers to be free for students attending the UCD Ball, therefore he needed to take money from the Ents budget and find sponsorship from the university to make it possible. Therefore, it is understandable that finally seeing a prototype could be considered a win.

Neo O’Herlihy, UCDSU Entertainments Officer, photo by Hugh Dooley
Neo O’Herlihy, UCDSU Entertainments Officer, photo by Hugh Dooley

Neo O’Herlihy is a 23-year-old English, Drama and Film student at UCD. He completed his third year in 2023 and has put his final year on pause while he works for the Students’ Union. He was asked to run for the role of Ents Officer by last year’s Sabbatical Team. Neo thinks that this is because he was heavily involved with several clubs and societies on campus. His most common role across the different societies was PRO (Public Relations Officer) which he enjoyed as he was “engaging with students on campus or at events. And that’s kind of what I liked doing and it’s what I still like doing.” This love of socialisation is what drew him to the role of Entertainment Officer.

The role of the Entertainment Officer is to create activities and collaborate with various societies, clubs, and external bodies to bring the social aspect of college life to students. When Neo originally campaigned for the role of Ents, he said that he was too focused on the Welfare side of the job and that he now has a better understanding of what is required from the Entertainment Officer, which is why he wants to run again.

“I want to make sure that in terms of entertainment, the consistency is kept up and that there is a focus on consistency rather than big, flashy events. I feel like it also helps build engagement. Because if you’re consistent, people start noticing you a bit more. For example, the sustainable fashion show, I was like, I don’t really have an interest in sustainable fashion. But I also really wanted the sustainable fashion show to go ahead. Because it’s a chance for students to express themselves.”

Neo O’Herlihy adds that next year he will utilise the Entertainments Forum more, the Ents forum is a team that is made up of six part-time officers who each hold a position relevant to the social lives of students and events held by the SU.

The officers include the Non-Alcoholic Events Officer and the First Year Promotions Officer, their jobs are to help with the planning, and promotion of events and to assist with the event itself. Neo admits that he didn’t fully understand the purpose of the Forum in his first semester but that he will involve them far more next year if re-elected.

The afternoon was spent putting up posters across the campus promoting the UCD Ball on the 25th of April. Neo O’Herlihy said that the planning for the event began before Christmas, and although he couldn’t give away many details to me at the time, he promised that it would be an amazing event for students and one of the events that he is most proud of this year.

Emma Hanrahan – Co-Editor