The Tell Your TD campaign, organised by the USI, has had a sizeable student response, with an estimated 40,000 students sending queries to their local TDs.
The campaign, which involved the USI sending letters to local TDs on behalf of students, was initiated in mid November. Students log on to tellyourtd.com, and leave their name and address. The website states that “the Union of Students in Ireland will look after the rest”.
The USI then sends out a letter, at no cost to the student, to each of the TDs in the students’ constituency and to Minister for Education, Mary Coughlan TD, containing the four main aims of the campaign: immediate placement of a cap on the registration fee, the continuation of the existing grant and income levels in Budget 2011, the continuation of current funding levels to the Student Assistance Fund and the development of a National Graduate Internship Programme to be established in the public, private and voluntary sectors.
UCDSU President Paul Lynam said that campaign is to “tell TDs not to take students for granted”. UCDSU is encouraging students to take part in what it refers to as “another form of lobbying TDs”. He continued: “The letter itself focuses on our three key issues which are the registration fee, grants and graduate unemployment. So it focuses on these three issues and puts pressure on TDs.”
Lynam remarked on the campaign’s success, noting that between 40,000 letters had been sent out since the campaign began. The number of letters sent on behalf of UCD students specifically cannot be measured, but Lynam believes that UCD has made a valuable contribution to the campaign: “I think we’re getting our message across. 40,000 letters so far.”
The campaign has caused the question of TD responsiveness to come to the fore: “By law, TDs are required to respond to letters,” explained Lynam. It is not known if TDs have responded to letters sent by students via the tellyourtd.com website.
The Tell Your TD campaign is an offshoot of the Education Not Emigration campaign. When asked what he believed that outcome of it would be, Lynam referred to the upcoming Budget and said: “Well, it’s a pressure campaign, so we’ll see on December 7th.”