Students Mark Stokes and Jamie Rath tell Donie O’Sullivan why they are opposed to the implementation of the proposed SU Constitution.
-What was your first reaction when you read through the proposed constitution?
When we first saw the story in the College Tribune, buy we thought that many of the measures were poorly thought out, would harm the Students’ Union, and most importantly, were not in the best interests of students.
-Why did you decide to organise a “Vote No” campaign?
This new constitution is bad for students. There’s no complexity in it, the new constitution is a bad deal for students and is not in the best interests of the majority.
-Do you not believe that the SU is in bad need of reform and the proposed constitution if ratified will bring these reforms?
We are completely for reforms of the SU, and radical ones at that. However, the reforms that are proposed are not the reforms the SU needs. It sets up more talking shops within the SU while putting far too much power in the hands of the SU President. The reforms that are proposed were driven by people who are out of touch with ordinary students,
-Can you outline the main elements of the proposed constitution you are particularly not satisfied with?
The removal of Ents is a major issue. It has always been the biggest connection that most students have to the SU, and removing it as planned will make the SU even more distant from the majority of the students they’re supposed to be representing. The idea is to make the Ents part of the Union more accountable, but we don’t think removing the Ents Officer as a whole is the best way to do this.
The payment of PROs/ Convenors of wages of potentially up to €100 per week is disgraceful when you consider that the SU also wants to take out a bank loan of around €1 million. They should be doing it because they want to change things in their faculty and help other students, not because they can get €100 per week.
The new way that the SU Council will be configured and the Class Rep system will be designed is madness. It’s all hugely bureaucratic, wholly unnecessary, and will lead to an ever wider gulf between students and the SU.
We also feel giving a large portion of the workload the Campaigns & Communications Officer is currently responsible for to the Welfare Officer will mean less time dealing with personal cases and less time helping students one-to-one.
The way that the Graduate Officer is to be elected (only by Postgrads and Final Years) is highly undemocratic when you consider that “Careers” will be part of their brief. Every student has an interest and stake in what the Union does in regards to helping careers, not just Final Years and Postgrads.
-How important a role do you believe the sabbatical candidates will play in the referendum? Do you know of any who plan to back the No campaign?
We wouldn’t want to put words in their mouths, but we’d hope they’ll support the campaign as they too want to make sure that the SU is always working in the best interests of students.
-Any further comments?
This constitution was designed behind closed doors with minimal input from students. It was designed by and for “The Clique”, the insiders in the SU.
The Students’ Union needs reform, but this proposed reform is not the way to go about it.