Students’ Union Campaigns & Communications Officer Paddy Ryan could be stripped of his position if the SU Internal Appeals Board (IAB) finds he was ineligble for election.
It has emerged that Ryan’s status as a member of UCDSU at the time of his election in March 2009 may be in doubt. According to new information, Ryan was not a member of the Students’ Union for the 2008-09 academic year, as he was on an unofficial leave of absence from his studies, and was therefore required to apply for Union membership to the IAB in advance of running for the C&C office.
The IAB are empowered under the SU’s constitution to grant membership to “any person who has previously been registered as a student with the university, but who has taken leave from their studies during the current academic year.”
While Ryan was successfully awarded membership through this channel, a dispute has now arisen on whether this power can be extended to students who have not formally applied to their local programme board for a leave of absence. It is believed that Ryan’s absence had not been formally approved by the Engineering Programme Board and was therefore unauthorised by the university.
The news comes just days after Ryan’s ability to complete the duties of his position was called into question after a meeting of Students’ Union Council last week.
SU President Gary Redmond proposed a vote of no confidence in Postgraduate Officer Kimberley Foy, which was seconded by the four other sabbatical officers.
The Council heard that among other reasons, Foy had failed to run for election to the postgraduate seat on UCD Governing Authority, which she is mandated to do under the terms of the SU constitution.
However it later emerged that Foy had been in contact with Ryan to ascertain the details of when and how she would run for election, but had received no answer from the C&C Officer.
As a full time postgraduate student, Postgraduate Officer of UCDSU and Environmental Officer of USI, Foy felt she may miss out on important deadlines due to her workload, and had asked Ryan to keep her informed regarding the Governing Authority elections. The motion of no confidence in Foy was subsequently deferred until the next meeting of SU Council.
Foy told The University Observer that it was “a drastic step” to put the motion on an agenda before Council. “You’re essentially ruining someone’s reputation. That’s very serious, and I think that either they don’t understand that, or they do understand it and don’t care enough.”
Foy conceded that she understood why the SU Council members were angry, however she went on to say that she felt Ryan and his fellow sabbatical officers should have taken “five minutes out of his paid day to call me and make sure that I’m doing my job.”
Ryan however said that he “never received any emails from Kim about the positions [on GA].” He went on to say that the meeting was an “informal chat” in his office during Freshers’ Week and concedes that as he was “particularly busy” he may not have remembered all the details from that meeting.
In a further development, members of Union Executive, minus the sabbatical officers will meet to discuss what, if any, course of action they may take regarding Ryan’s performance in the role of Campaigns & Communications Vice-President. According to one part-time officer, “the majority of Executive are not happy with the Campaigns & Communications Officer and the job that he’s doing”. The officer went on to say that they will convene to discuss “the job that he [Ryan] is doing and any problems that have arisen and how we’re going to deal with them”. It’s understood that the meeting will take place this week, although details were not available at the time of going to print.
Edit: At last night’s meeting of UCDSU Council, which was held after The University Observer went to press, Kimberley Foy resigned her position as UCDSU Postgraduate Officer.