Profiles and analysis by Bridget Fitzsimons
While he may be unfamiliar to the vast majority of students, even those already involved in the Students’ Union, John Logue has ambitious plans if he gets elected to the role of Education Vice-President.
Top of Logue’s list of priorities is a renewed transparency and accountability from class reps, Programme Officers and sabbatical officers. His primary concern is with class reps, who he does not feel are currently very accountable to their classes. Logue wants reps to regularly address their classes and gauge their opinions on upcoming motions, and to encourage more students to get further involved.
While he claims to be a new face, Logue currently sits on the Student Consultative Forum, which he cites as a form of experience for the role of Education Vice-President. He says that he is running for the role out of “frustration”, and is different from his opponent in that he recognises the SU as a “closed society” and wishes to tackle this.
While it’s commendable that Logue wishes to get involved in a structure that he has had little prior involvement in, his manifesto does reveal a lack of experience. Among other things, his demand that academics publish sample A and D-graded scripts is unfeasible, having been rejected by lecturers in the past. However, his enthusiasm is quite refreshing in a structure that seems to be jaded and cliquey.
Logue acknowledges his involvement in the UCD Ógra Fianna Fáil group, the Kevin Barry Cumann, yet maintains that he will not allow party politics to influence him in his role within the SU, saying that “I’ve no ambition to be a politician or a senator.” However, his political links are obvious in his constant references to getting advice from former Education Vice-President and current National Youth Officer for Fianna Fáil, Brian Doyle.
Logue’s enthusiasm is refreshing and he maintains that he will be able to build experience and will work hard to know policy if he is elected. A fresh face is something that UCD Students’ Union sorely needs, and if Logue’s enthusiasm has some backbone behind it, he will prove a formidable opponent for Williamson.
20-year-old James Williamson, a third year Science student, cites his experience as the main reason why he feels students should elect him, stating that “I think that with the position of Education Officer, a fresh face is not what you need.”
Williamson has served as the SU’s Science Programme Officer for the past year and has shown a commendable workrate in this time, having set up and sat on numerous committees, and having served as chair of the Science Day 2010 organising committee. However, he was quick to criticise current Education Officer Donnacha Ó Súilleabháin, citing a poor work ethic, and saying that if he was in Ó Súilleabháin’s position, he would “resign, and I wouldn’t run for USI Education Officer.” Williamson promises to be “more vocal” on a number of student issues and at committees, as well as liaising with class reps more.
While he recognises that the SU has become less visible this year, he disagrees with the perception of the Union as a clique. He calls himself “a very outgoing person and approachable,” but his unwillingness to recognise the SU corridor as being unwelcoming to outsiders could prove alienating to students.
Williamson’s manifesto is ambitious: he has promised specific things to each faculty and it is hard to know whether he is fully aware of UCD’s current financial circumstances. However, it is hard to place faith in an Education Vice-Presidential candidate who says that he will fight the registration fee, and who then asks students to support the result of a referendum asking students to pay a fee for the health service on top of the registration fee.
While there remains some work to be done, it is clear that Williamson is passionate about the position he is running for. While some of his manifesto is a touch over-ambitious, the majority of it seems to appeal to the common student, and it is worthwhile that he has laid out specific plans for students in each building. His experience will stand to him, but students may wish to change the SU into less of a clique and Williamson could suffer as a result of this.
It’s very difficult to decide who is best for the job of Education Vice-President, as each of the two candidates present very different qualities. While it is arguable that the role requires a certain level of experience, the Students’ Union is in dire need of some fresh faces.
Both candidates present ambitious manifestoes, but it is unclear whether either will be able to deliver on the promises they have made. A clear lack of understanding of UCD’s further budget cuts is evident in both. While ambition is something to be welcomed, both candidates need to regain a sense of perspective. The reality is that if promises made during the height of the boom were not achieved, then they are unlikely to happen next year when funding is tough to come by.
Williamson’s experience is commendable, and despite being an active member of what many see as the SU clique, he is keen to help bring about change. His outspoken criticism of his predecessor shows that Williamson is not willing to simply follow SU lines, and wishes to genuinely offer a change. However, his idealism proves problematic – his goal to have UCD hire new library staff, in a time in which this is just not financially viable, being a key example. However, his work within the SU is commendable and varied, most notably his work on many Science committee.
Logue brings in a fresh face, something definitely needed within UCD Students’ Union. However, his lack of experience may prevent him from truly being able to know and work with UCD on SU policy, as well as effectively liaise with university employees. He is convincingly confident that he will be able to learn quickly, but whether or not this is achievable when his opponent has worked as a Programme Officer for the past year is questionable.
These are two very well matched candidates, both offering very different qualities much needed by the SU. Students must decide whether to vote for experience or a new face, and choose which will be more valuable to the SU in the long run.