College Convenors are a relatively new position in the Students’ Union, being brought in with the new Constitution this year and superseding the old PRO roles. Convenors are members of the Union Executive, and serve as the intermediary between the sabbatical officers and the Union Council Reps (UCRs) and class reps. They are elected directly by students and these elections will be held alongside the President, Welfare and Equality Officer, and Undergraduate Education Officer elections. The College Convenors represent the different faculties in UCD, including Agriculture, Food and Vet; Arts and Celtic Studies; Business and Law; Human Sciences; Health Science; Science; and Engineering and Architecture.
While the College Convenors are not full-time officers, the constitution does make allowances for them to be paid. This year’s Convenors did not receive any payment due to the financial uncertainty of the Union, but with the loan secured and the situation now stabilised, it is expected that next year’s Convenors may receive some payment. The rate of payment is set by the Finance Committee with a maximum of ten paid hours per week. The amount of hours to be paid is decided by the UCDSU President.
The main role of the various Convenors is to assist with the campaigns of the Students’ Union, being responsible for the distribution of information and for the implementation of these campaigns. They are also responsible for the recruitment of UCRs within their own constituency, and for organising the election of the class reps for the classes within their colleges after the UCR elections.
The candidates for convenor in the upcoming election are as follows:
Ag, Food and Vet: Devin Finneran
The current outgoing Ag, Food and Vet Convenor, Devin Finneran is running for re-election unopposed. Her plans for office are quite ambitious, including providing a more detailed grading system for tutors and demonstrators to ensure students receive fair grades, setting up a system for students to review electives and planning career days in association with societies and programme offices. She also has more manageable plans for improving her faculty, such as getting an official Ag Soc notice board for the Ag building foyer and increasing awareness of SU campaigns and services.
Arts and Celtic Studies: Aonghus Ó Briain
Also running unopposed, Aonghus Ó Briain pledges to make the SU more accountable to students. He plans to make the position more visible, with lecture addressing and a weekly Open Clinic. To help in the area of education for arts students he wants to create ‘transition packs’ to advise first years and students progressing to stage two, and work with the programme office to create a student friends results guide in Semester Two.
Ó Briain’s other plans include a second-hand book sale to raise money for the Welfare Fund similar to that run by this year’s convenor, and to create an Arts Campaign Crew to help make campaigns more visible.
Business and Law: Nicole Scully
As the sole candidate for Business and Law Convenor, Nicole Scully has many plans for the coming year should she be elected. She plans to run a secondhand book sale in her faculty, in addition to creating tutor groups where students having difficulty with a subject could be taught by their peers. With regards Welfare she plans to run awareness campaigns for the services and funds available. She also has big plans for improving entertainments available to business and law students, including more trips away, nights out and potentially joint events with Q-Soc, C&E and Law Soc.
Human Sciences: Niall Dunne and Aine Mooney
As the only race contested by more than one candidate, this is the one to watch. Aine Mooney is the incumbent Human Sciences Convenor, and hopes to be re-elected on the promise of a Module Information Booklet, a second-hand book sale for the Welfare Fund and employability skills seminars. She also plans to increase the number of class parties and trips away, organise an Arts and Human Sciences Day, and monthly non-alcoholic events such as inter-class football matches and movie marathons in the UCD Cinema.
Her challenger, Niall Dunne, has less concrete plans, and is more focused on changing the image of the Students’ Union and bring a stronger voice for the left in student politics. His more explicit plans include lobbying the union to become involved in the Pro-Choice movement and take a stronger role in LGBT rights campaigns, setting up an online crisis site with UCD counselling services for confidential support and stronger campaigning against fees and cuts to the grant. He also hopes to abolish ‘super fines’, the heavy increase of late fees in the library in place around exam time.
Dunne’s vagueness when it comes to how his plans could be carried out, and even vagueness on what his plans are, could be problem in a role which is largely about campaigning and organising UCRs and class reps. In comparison, Mooney’s experience as Convenor has led her to make clear and achievable goals. In the end this race may come down to ideology versus practicality.
Health Science: Becky Gilmore
Running uncontested, Becky Gilmore plans to run large events as Health Sciences Convenor, including a charity ball, a mystery tour and Health Science Day. She also promises kettles and toasters in the Health Science common room, coffee mornings, regular meetings with class reps and to increase knowledge of SU sabbatical officers and involvement with the SU.
Science: Valerie O’Brien
As the current Science Convenor, having been elected to the position in January following a by-election, Valerie O’Brien is running a campaign based on increasing fun and relaxation for Science students. She hopes to secure a “chill out area” for first and second year students, supplied with a toaster and microwave. She also plans to run movie nights and work with Science Soc to run events throughout the year.
For the more serious areas of student life, she promises to establish a ‘Science Summer Internships scheme’, work to increase awareness of erasmus options for science students and promote the services of the Maths Support Centre with the creation of online maths tutorials.
The final Convenor position, Engineering & Architecture, received no nominations and will be re-opened at a later date.
Irish Officer: Caoimhe Ní Chobhthaigh
One more position, that of Irish Language Officer, is up for election on March 6th and 7th. Only one candidate is running for the office, Caoimhe Ní Chobhthaigh, an active member of UCD’s Irish speaking community living on Scéim Chónaithe na Gaeilge. At the time of going to print she had not released the details of her campaign.