FEARS over the future of UCD Volunteers Overseas (UCDVO) have calmed after a recent rejection of poposals to alter the structure of the charity within UCD.
A constitution for the charity will be presented to members today, which aims to “keep its charitable status, and make sure that the good things that were there in the past are kept”, according to UCDVO Chairman, Prof Jim Phelan.
VO Member, Tara Gilligan explained that the volunteers were angry to hear of university criticism of the charity while working abroad this summer. “We thought this is ridiculous, we are going over to schools and teaching kids, building houses… The students learn more from this than they learn at university”.
Ms Gilligan was critical of reports that the university had described “the aims of VO as not educational (therefore) they didn’t want it affiliated with the university”. However she stated that VO members are “more at ease” now that the talk of changing the structure of the charity appears to have calmed.
Prof Phelan stressed that while “there was a lot of talk” about the future of the VO, the current situation is “very different”. He is confident about the university’s role with the charity, explaining that “from my dealings we seem to have very good commitment from the college; we have something solid that we can work with”.
Defending comments made by the Vice-President for Students, Dr Martin Butler regarding possibilities of incorporating the UCDVO into an external charity, Prof Phelan added that “he hadn’t been involved in the development area…now we have developed from there”.
Hoping that the new constitution will “build on a structure within UCD”, Prof Phelan commented that while the situation isn’t finalised, “I would be very positive, and a lot more positive than I have been in the last few months”.
Dr Butler explained his earlier aims for the charity as “seeing UCD VO becoming part of a wider volunteer type centre within the university… but UCD VO will maintain its relevance and status and it will allow UCD students to work on identified projects overseas”.