—President Deeks backs move to different SU model
—SU’s student survey to gauge student opinion on how Union should be run
Figures of authority on campus have revealed their desire for the UCD Students’ Union (SU) to move from its current format to a structure that resembles the model most SUs in the United Kingdom observe.
Problems with the infrastructure of UCDSU have been highlighted since the turn of the decade when the organisation was shown to be in excess of €1 million in debt due to financial mismanagement. These fiscal shortcomings underlined for many a need to change the current system in order to avoid such an issue arising in the future.
Furthermore, students felt UCDSU’s efforts focus was too national and while committing to fighting fees with USI, it ignored prominent issues on campus such as the issues with students had with UCD Residences.
A shift to this UK Students’ Union structure would see UCDSU fall in line with a more localised ideology that focuses primarily on campaigning for better student services on campus.
Students’ Unions in the UK that apply this localised ethos to their work served find such efforts boost student involvement and see further progress made in improving student activities and services on campus, such as more affordable accommodation, more recreational activities and cheaper alcohol on campus.
Speaking about the possible shift to the UK Students’ Union model, UCDSU President, Mícheál Gallagher said, “I would definitely like to see UCDSU move in a direction that sees it constantly adopting international, cutting edge examples of best practice.
“Two key ideologies must be adhered to at all times: fair democratic structures and a fully transparent organisation… With UCD’s absence from the USI this year, I have taken to more direct networking with leading United Kingdom Students’ Unions”
New UCD President Andrew Deeks echoed Gallagher’s sentiments, saying he hopes they can be more concerned with the experience of students on campus.
“Coming from the Australian system, the Students’ Unions went from a situation where they were a breeding ground for future politicians to a situation where they were much more concerned with student facilities, the student experience on campus, with representing the student body to senior management.
“What I would hope is that our SU will adopt that kind of approach that they will be concerned with student experience on campus, working with me and my management team in terms of improving that and that party politics will not be a part of student politics.”
During the first week of semester two, UCDSU released their first audited accounts to students, something Gallagher noted as a move towards this complete fiscal transparency that is the backbone of UK Students’ Unions operations.
“UCDSU has implemented all examples of international recognised best practice of student representative organisations, such as restructuring into two separate companies; one to manage the shops, and another to look after the representative and entertainment functions”
In order to maximize UCD students’ involvement in such an overhaul of structures in the SU, Gallagher hopes that a survey being conducted over the next few weeks will allow students to have their say in what shape they UCDSU.
“We are conducting this survey to find out what direction the students of UCD want to take their SU in. It will help shape the strategic plan which will guide the SU over the next two years to 2016. Where necessary it will be used as a reference for possible changes to UCDSU’s constitution.”