Due to the fact that this year’s referendum did not reach quorum, Eoin Heffernan will be the last elected Ents Officer in UCD. Next year, his role will be filled by a professional Ents Manager in an attempt to increase the accountability of the Students’ Union in UCD.Heffernan has been given the unenviable task of entertaining the students of the largest university in the country without a student bar in which to host any events, but he has taken it in his stride, refusing to describe it as anything more than “a curveball.”
Not everything can be blamed on the Bar however, as he did still fail to deliver on a number of promises that had little to do with the Bar. He described his idea to organise trips to festivals such as ‘I Love Techno’ and ‘Snowbombing’ as being infeasible once all the costs were considered. Of his plans to put on fortnightly classics in the new cinema, he says that he would have just been taking credit for the job that FilmSoc and the cinema itself are already doing, but it’s hard to fault him on that.
Honesty, he says, is one of the biggest things he has learned this year. “When you’re under the spotlight, you can lie and deflect,” he says. “But if you lie to people and they catch you out, they’re going to be pissed off. If you’re honest with people off the bat all the time with what you’re doing and what’s going on, people are much more receptive to you and they understand that you’re still a student and you’re doing your best.”
He says that this year’s An Seo Faisin was the highlight of his term, calling it an exciting new experience in an area he had never been in before. But he is also proud of the many non-alcoholic events that were held on campus throughout the year, particularly the mature students’ family day.
Due to the lack of an on-campus bar, Heffernan describe this year’s Ents as “virtually alcohol-free”, but was quick to point out that this does not mean there were no events. Stand-up comedy from the likes of Des Bishop, as well as shopping trips to Kildare village and the DJ Academy were among the many events he deemed successful without alcohol.
He hopes to keep this trend going as he looks to take RAG Week in a different direction than recent years, saying: “The issue with RAG Week is that, all over the country, it’s seen as a big piss up. But the whole idea behind it is to raise and give, so we were looking to find a way in which we could get the most people involved, and at the same time raise the most money.”
His handling of the finances this year has been impressive. In his manifesto, he outlined his desire to raise around €30,000 in sponsorship for the Ents Crew. He exceeded that target by €4,000, which meant a reduction in prices of ticketed events, reducing the price of the Mystery Tour by €5 and the Freshers’ Ball, which made a profit, by €8. He brushes this off however, saying: “I don’t know if it’s anything special; it’s just down to budgets and knowing that students are a bit more stuck and they might appreciate cheaper events.”
Looking forward to next year, he says he is sceptical of the professionalisation of Ents, though he says: “Overall, I do think that a professional Ents is going to boost the college, and it’s going to be more accountable; there’s going to be a full-time person there, employed to do this role.”
It’s difficult to criticise Heffernan for failed promises that were outside his control, or indeed compare his performance to any of his predecessors. While he failed to deliver on a number of promises unaffected by the Bar, it is obvious that most of his year has been focused on negotiating to get the Bar reopened, and ensuring the UCD Ball went ahead. He has achieved both of these, to an extent, and managed to keep Ents ticking along as well. It’s difficult to ask for much more in these exceptional circumstances.