UCD STUDENTS’ UNION (SU) may have been in breach of a mandate relating to the Student Travelcard since it was enacted during the 2007-08 academic year. The mandate requires the SU to boycott the card, as well as campaigning for its removal as a requirement for student travel fares, and was passed by the Union’s Council almost two years ago.
Despite this mandate, Student Travelcard have continued to operate within the SU Photocopying Bureau in the library tunnel, while this year’s Freshers’ Guide also carried an ad for the Student Travelcard on its outer cover. Advertising rates for the outer cover were set at €3,000, and revenue from the advert goes directly to the SU, contravening the mandate to boycott the card.
SU President Gary Redmond has defended the Union’s actions, insisting that the SU are completely within the mandate to receive sponsorship from Student Travelcard as well as housing them in the SU Photocopying Bureau. He stated that providing office space for, and receiving advertising revenue was “absolutely not” against the mandate.
Redmond cites student needs as a defence for the SU’s continuing relationship with Student Travelcard on campus. He said that “it’s cheaper for students,” and despite the fact that he feels that “the Student Travelcard shouldn’t exist,” Redmond believes that it “it’s the only way that students can get discounts for the train, bus and Luas. We have to accept them while they exist.” Irish Rail, Luas and Dublin Bus services only accept a Student Travelcard for student discounts, whereas Bus Éireann accept most university student cards.
Despite being mandated to campaign for the abolition of Student Travelcard, the SU receives both advertising money and a contribution from Student Travelcard allowing them to occupy space in the Photocopying Bureau. Redmond stated that “the Students’ Union has earned money off it, and continues to earn money off it. However, as I said, the Union’s view is that it shouldn’t exist but while it does exist, we have to work with them, unfortunately. ”
Redmond also said he doesn’t feel that there is a conflict of interest in this case as “this is absolutely nothing new.” He said that “it really is a conflict within the CIE group that their subsidiary Bus Éireann will take a student card but another one, Dublin Bus, won’t.”
Redmond declined to comment when asked how much Student Travelcard pay for their space in the SU Photocopying Bureau.