UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) and UCD Registry are set to engage in discussions over the possibility of altering the exam timetable for Semester 2, if the government decides to hold the Marriage Equality referendum during the exam period.
Feargal Hynes, UCDSU President, said he met with the Registrar to confer over the referendum. Dominic Martella, External Communications and Media Relations Manager for UCD, confirmed that UCDSU had raised the issue with Registry and that “discussions will ensue.”
There are concerns that if the referendum were to be held on a date that clashes with UCD exams, it would make it difficult for many students to cast votes in their home constituencies.
National media has reported that the government had provisional chosen early May to hold two referendums, including the one on marriage equality. Currently, the Semester 2 exams are set to take place between the 5th to the 16th May. This has led to calls for the timetable to be changed, if necessary. The Semester 2 exam timetable is set to be released on the 30th March.
Apprehension over student voters is not just confined to UCD, with several other universities set to host exam periods during May. The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has been advocating for the referendum to be held in April. In her Presidential blog on 17th December 2014, Laura Harmon, USI President, said it would be an “act of folly” on behalf of the government if it decided to hold the vote after the 1st of May.
UCDSU has been calling for a “YES” vote in the marriage equality referendum, and recently participated in a voter registration drive with the UCD LGBTQ+ Society. Commenting on the willingness of voters to support the proposal, Hynes said the the “issue at the moment isn’t with the students, it’s with the older generations.”
The marriage equality referendum is set to be held on the same day as a second referendum on the presidential age requirement. Currently, an Irish citizen must be at least 35 years old to stand for the presidency. Voters will have a chance to reduce this requirement down to 21 years of age.