Second year Medicine student Aidan Kelly openly admits that he may lack relevant experience for the position of President, but cites his lack of expertise as a benefit: “I have absolutely no experience that qualifies me for the role, which I think, based on past performance by the Students’ Union, might not be such a bad thing.”
Kelly is keen to point out that the little experience he does have for the role he has skillfully squandered, stating: “I’m the class rep and in that role I have succeeded in doing very little for my class. I have managed to avoid most meetings with the Student Council and I think that ability to get out of stuff is a fantastic thing to have for a President.” Continuing from this, when asked what is the single most important part of the position of President, Kelly responds: “He needs to be able to avoid blame for any problems that are his fault, he needs to be able to put that blame on someone else”.
A large focus of Kelly’s manifesto is on what he sees as a lack of a satisfactory social atmosphere on campus, stating: “They’ve had an Ents Officer who hasn’t been able to work because obviously he didn’t have a Student Bar, which is a massive disadvantage. If you don’t have a student bar, then what can the Ents Officer do?” When asked what he would have done differently Kelly claims that he would have ensured that the bar had been built on time. Asked how he would have raised the money to keep such a promise Kelly gives an elusive answer, saying: “I have my ways. I know people. I know builders, personally.”
Kelly has other plans for improving the social side of UCD. He praises the the University’s opening of the tepidarium in the new student centre earlier in the academic year, but feels that they have missed the opportunity to tackle the absence of a social life in UCD. He would like to focus time and expenses in refurbishing the space into what he refers to as a ‘sexy tepidarium': “The tepidarium in the new student centre is a fantastic place and would be improved if there was a bar installed there, and this would definitely improve the social side of UCD. You’d be there, in the sauna or in the jacuzzi, sipping on a couple drinks.”
In an attempt to raise money for the University as well as improve the gym, Kelly aims to remove gym equipment. When asked specifically which equipment, Kelly responds that the focus is mainly on treadmills claiming “these are unnecessary in the gym.” Asked to whom he planned to sell these excess treadmills, Kelly says: “Many people buy second-hand treadmills. Other gyms are always looking to buy second-hand treadmills, for some reason. They are expensive treadmills, and so would sell easily.” When reminded that the treadmills belong to the University rather than the Students’ Union, Kelly assured that it would be in the interest of the University and would create extra revenue for both the college and the Union.
Another of Kelly’s finance-raising suggestions is to allow Coca Cola to sell their products on campus, overturning a boycott that was instated in 2003: “While morally this is not fantastic, we also think that it would be a great way of raising money if we had something like the Coca Cola Student Centre.” Kelly was not specific about how much money could be raised but feels that “Coca Cola will want to pay a lot as they are losing not only the actual revenue that is going to Pepsi at the moment, but also will hopefully make more people drink Coke in the future. So we reckon we could make quite a lot of money off this.”
Kelly also states in his manifesto his plans to subsidise certain foods with revenue created from disaffiliation with USI. When asked which food, Kelly explained that the focus is specifically on chicken fillet rolls in the Student Centre. He plans to lower to price of chicken fillet rolls by 40 cent, bringing the price down to €3.50, stating “anything over €3.50 is ridiculous for a chicken fillet roll”. While these efforts to get a better deal for students are admirable, Kelly seems unaware that other outlets on campus are retailing the same products at €3.65. This is perhaps a missed opportunity for further bargaining, purely as a result of poor research. When questioned about a promise made on his Facebook campaign page of “free coffee”, Kelly responds saying: “It says if you want free coffee, it never actually promises free coffee. There’s a distinction there.” When pressed further on the matter Kelly admits: “No, the coffee won’t be free”.
Kelly proposes the introduction of a ‘puppy room’ on campus as way to deal with the issue of student stress. When asked whether such a project is discriminatory towards people who prefer kittens, Kelly first attempts to argue for the superiority of puppies before conceding that certain students may prefer kittens and the Union must adjust accordingly to accommodate: “If the success of the puppy room was such that people, the cat crowd, wanted their own place, we could look into opening another room for kittens.” Kelly also felt that students would not have a problem with the puppies becoming dogs at a later state as, in his words, “Dogs are still cool, everyone loves dogs”. On the subject of the potential issue of student with allergies, Kelly talks from personal experience saying “I actually have allergies myself towards dogs, I still love them”. As a solution he suggests that the Union invests in Labradoodles, which are specifically bred for people with allergies, so students “could still enjoy the great feeling of being around puppies”.
Though it may be questionable what benefit many of Kelly’s policies will bring to the Students’ Union, he is confident of achieving them all, even if he remains vague on the specifics of many of those plans. While it is admirable that he is so open about his intention to deceive students and shunt blame for all mistakes, he has perhaps been misguided in revealing such strategies before he has even reached office. This may ultimately be his downfall.
To read the interview with the other candidate in the presidential race, Mícheál Gallagher, click here
For the analysis of both candidates, click here