A referendum held last week in Dublin City University (DCU) has voted not to re-affiliate with the Union of Students’ of Ireland (USI).
The vote was conclusive, with 771 students voting “No” and 339 voting “Yes”. DCU Students’ Union President Megan O’Riordan explains this majority as students believing that “we are strong enough to excel alone now.”
USI President Gary Redmond was disappointed with the decision and said that he believes it “would have been helpful if we’d have been able to canvass on the campus.”
He explains that “it is often difficult for students on the ground to see the benefits of USI because all of the things we do is on an national level,” continuing that “it would have been really helpful if the Students’ Union had been able to take a pro-USI stance” instead of remaining neutral.
DCU Students’ Union decided against having people on campus canvassing for USI. Redmond says that “other members of USI wanted to go out onto the campus of DCU and explain why they were members and the benefits of membership that they got.”
There were multiple reasons for DCU’s disaffiliation with USI in 2002, but O’Ríordan stated that by having the referendum, DCU Students’ Union illustrated that “we are looking to the future, rather than back into the past.”
The decision to have a referendum was made as “there is a completely new set of students in the college now,” and O’Riordan says that “I felt it was my timely duty to let them have their say on the matter. USI are doing an immense job this year.”
Redmond emphasizes that “our ultimate goal is to build a united student movement. The more students’ unions we have, the stronger we’re going to be.”
USI currently represents 300,000 students and more than 40 students’ unions, including UCD. NUI Maynooth re-affiliated with USI last year and Griffith College Dublin is currently in the process of doing so.
Redmond states that “with NUI Maynooth coming back last year, we were hopeful that DCU would come back this year” and concedes that its “ultimately up to DCU students.”
O’Riordan concludes that she “whole-heartedly believes in unity, in all colleges working together under one umbrella, especially in the climate we are in today,” but acknowledges that “USI still has internal work to resolve.”