UCD Students’ Union draft of a new constitution is due to become available to students this week. Among the changes introduced are a mandatory referendum as to whether the SU should be affiliated with the USI, a change in the class rep structure, and the elimination of two Sabbatical positions.
The referendum deciding whether the SU should affiliate with USI would be constitutionally expected to take place every four years. Should the constitutional referendum pass, Students’ Union President Pat de Brún stated that he would expect the USI referendum to take place in the “earlier part of the four years … there’s an appetite out there for it.”
Under the current constitution, there are a certain number of Class Reps elected, based on class sizes, who represent their classes at the fortnightly Union Council, as well as organising social events and assisting with internal class issues. Should the new draft pass, the same number of Union Reps would be elected, who would in turn appoint an indefinite number of Class Reps. The Union Reps would represent their classes at Council whereas the Class Reps would deal with direct class issues and, despite their informal appointment, have constitutional status.
According to de Brún, “Union Council Reps will be the ones that represent at Union Council and discuss Union policy and make Union policy, and keep Officers accountable … the idea behind Union Council is to form policy, it’s not there for discussing a broken water fountain or an issue with the vending machines and that’s where the College Councils come in. All the Class Reps and the Union Council Reps within a particular college will be there to discuss those issues, and if they need to be brought to Union Council then, they’ll be brought there.”
The position of Campaigns and Communication Officer would cease to exist under the new constitution. A shifting of responsibilities will also take place, for example, the responsibility of Class Reps, which at this point lies with the C&C Officer, will move to the Undergrad Education Officer as they will have a smaller workload due to their no longer having a responsibility to postgraduate students. Similarly, national campaigns will be the President’s responsibility and smaller, local campaigns will be that of the Welfare and Equality Officer.
De Brún insists that the changes are an improvement on the current system, “I see this as an improvement, a rationalisation, and it gives the right workload to each officer; whereas now I think some officers have more in their workload than other officers.”
The elected position of Ents Officer will be replaced by a Professional Entertainment Manager, who will be recruited as a staff member due to too large an unaccountable financial burden being placed on the role of Ents Officer at present, “there is so much financial responsibility given to the Ents Officer because, by the very nature of it, you are dealing with big numbers and it’s a challenge to try and make that money back … the President currently doesn’t have much power over the Ents Officer because we’re all elected just the same, by students.”
De Brún confirmed that the position of Ents Officer has too much free reign, so the introduction of an Entertainment Manager will make the office more professional, without losing the focus of Ents.