Why I should be your Welfare and Equality Officer – Cian Dowling

As part of our coverage of the upcoming Students’ Union Sabbatical elections, each candidate has been given an opportunity to outline why UCD students should vote for them on March 6th and 7th

This year you will elect your first ever Welfare and Equality Officer. It is essentially very similar to the role of the Welfare Officer we have this year and in the past with a few added responsibilities, due to the abolition of the Campaigns and Communications Officer. I believe I am the best candidate to look out for your Welfare in the coming year and I hope you will agree after you have a read of this and my manifesto.

Empathy: No amount of training, positions or working groups can prepare someone to handle a scenario better than somebody who has lived through that scenario themselves. Without wanting to sound like an X-Factoresque sob story, I have had an interesting ride up to now. The folks split up just before secondary school, I lost a much-loved direct family member to suicide and was abandoned and assaulted by a physically, as well as emotionally, abusive father. The latter was since my time in UCD and the people who helped me through it were the SU Welfare Officers. Scott and Rachel not only helped me cope with a deeply distressing time, but showed me how to grow from it. It was when I left el Bresidenté’s Welfare Office last year that I knew I wanted to help make people feel like she had just made me feel. The best thing I ever did in hard times was admitting to someone that I was sad. I want to be that someone for the students of UCD.

Personal cases: The role of WEO is simultaneously pro-active and reactive. The most important task of the role is the reactive handling of personal cases. This is something I have an abundance of experience in. Confidentiality is key with personal cases so I won’t say any specifics but friends will often come to me with some seriously heavy stuff and I do what I can. It can be as simple as just having someone to listen or putting together a plan with them to overcome their obstacle, but I am always there as a non-judgemental, eager to help voice. Something I have noted is that it is more often the girls who will come to me with such issues. It was something that was addressed several times in the all male-contested Welfare race last year that ‘Women may not feel comfortable coming to a man for help’. I think it works both ways of the gender cross. A lot of people coming to the Welfare Officer may not have personally met them before; therefore gender is not the number one thing in a student’s head when they are pushing themselves to open up to a problem with someone who is essentially a stranger. I will be there for every UCD student facing any challenge and will draw from my well of personal experience as well as everything to be learned between now and taking office.

Delivering on promises: Something that has been quite frustrating to me in past SU elections is the things that are promised and not delivered on. Obviously due to various factors, it’s just not possible to achieve some things. Something I tried to minimise in my manifesto was outlandish claims that can not be achieved. Words are cheap but results are what matter. Two of my finest contributions to UCD were 1) personally providing the Engineering Cafe with a fridge, microwave, toaster and kettle that I sourced and 2) providing the under resourced Architecture faculty with thousands of Euro worth of printing equipment. Not a single cent changed hands in either project. Why do I mention these? Our Union is in thousands of euro of debt. It’s back on track, but budgets are still tight. We need someone resourceful who will not just talk about their magnificent plans, but actually deliver. I hope to be that person for you next year.

Thank you so much for your time and I hope to be able to be there for you in the future!

To read the personal statement of the other candidate in the Welfare race, Ciara Johnson, click here

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