SU Elections: Campaigns and Communications Officer Analysis

 
 

Emma Fortune is a competent and experienced candidate with an ambitious and varied manifesto. With regard to campaigns, her policy seems to be continuity with increased involvement on the ground: she does not bring anything radically new to the table. In communications the feasibility of production of a weekly web show and the true impact of viral media are questionable.

Her concern over pay is understandable; however it may prove an issue for student voters. Fortune clearly has a passion for the role and for UCDSU and her marketing experience could indeed prove invaluable. A competent public speaker, she seems sure of her capability. However her manifesto is ambitious and it is difficult to imagine that she will have time to deliver on every promise during what may prove a challenging year with a new government.

Lacey seems to have the most succinct manifesto. He appears confident in his aims for the office and has set clear goals. He aims to improve the way UCDSU campaigns through regeneration of the format of campaign weeks and increased involvement in lobbying alongside USI.

With communications, he does not promise any radical changes. His ambitions for Class Rep training are commendable, but the actual impact on cost is unclear and students may question his opposition to the use of other Dublin campuses. Lacey is a confident candidate with a passion for campaigning for students and a track record of achievements in his position as Sports Officer; however his confidence could initially be mistaken for arrogance and so first impressions could have a significant impact on his campaign.

Lee’s manifesto clearly differs to that of her competitors. She does advocate the continuity of campaigns with regard to access to education and student nurses’ pay, but disagrees with the current campaign format entirely.

Lee’s allegation that campaigns have been “dire” may seem overly harsh even to critics of the SU. However, she does present a valid argument with regard to the lack of student awareness and involvement that needs to be combated. Her desire to move toward direct action, peaceful though it may be, may concern students. Her determination to move Class Rep training back to campus to cut costs may prove popular and her clear passion for the redevelopment of campaigns is commendable. Lee is a fresh face with a different approach; however this approach may prove too different for some students to support.

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Name: Emma Fortune
Age:
21
Course and year: 3rd Year Commerce
Do you drink, smoke or take drugs? I drink and smoke, but I don’t take drugs.
Who are the President, Registrar and Bursar of UCD? The President is Hugh Brady, the Registrar is Philip… Sorry I’ve totally blanked, and the Bursar is Gerry O’Brien.
How do you rate the performance of this year’s officer? I think he has dealt so well, he was probably one of the real backbones to the education not emigration march. I think he was very good.

Review
Emma Fortune has wealth of experience in both UCD and UCDSU having served on numerous committees and crews; she is the incumbent Business PRO.

She recognises that UCDSU can be perceived as a clique but thinks “it’s more of an image than an actual thing […] I think it’s viewed as exclusive but I think that there need to be more people involved.” Fortune is eager to “break the view, but I would like to maintain the camaraderie that exists between the officers”.

She is supportive of the USI and believes that this year they “empowered the regular everyday student to know that they could bring about change”. As a full maintenance grant student, Fortune spoke at the USI-organised “Education not Emigration” march last November.

If elected, Fortune aims to improve communications by bringing viral media to UCD. Through weekly web shows and iPhone apps linked in to Twitter and Facebook, she hopes to change the way that UCDSU communicates, though she admits that she would not “get rid of posters”. These technologies are already in place, but she believes that they have not been fully harnessed and aims to do this. She also hopes to utilise campus media in order to spread campaigns on the ground.

In terms of campaigns themselves, she will continue to oppose the rising registration fee, cuts to student grants and cuts to student nurses’ pay. Fortune would also continue to promote the voter registration campaign. She believes that the experience she has gained studying marketing will be invaluable to the SU in reaching target audiences and promoting campaigns.

Fortune is eager to cut the cost of Class Rep training, but says that: “Until I’m in the job, I can’t make a definite decision.” She acknowledges that there “has to be another way of doing it that we can cut costs”. In her position as PRO she has experience dealing Class Reps and aims to utilise this: “I’d be very active meeting my Class Reps […] it’s not 100 per cent there and hopefully that’s what I’ll do next year.”

Fortune is not opposed to taking a pay cut but would prefer to negotiate the rate: “I couldn’t take a €100 pay cut. I live away from home; I pay rent; if this happened I think that Sabbatical positions would be kept for the wealthy.”

Fortune cites her creativity and her experience as that which sets her apart in the race. “I think both the other candidates are very strong but I just think I have the edge in that sense,” she says. “I know my stuff.”

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Name: Brendan Lacey
Age:
22
Course and year: 2nd Year Business and Law.
Do you drink, smoke or take drugs? I drink and smoke. I don’t take drugs.
Who are the President, Registrar and Bursar of UCD? The President is Dr. Hugh Brady, the Registrar is still Philip Nolan until August and the Bursar is Gerry O’Brien.
How do you rate the performance of this year’s officer? In terms of what Pat’s managed to achieve with the problems he’s been faced with, I think he’s done a great job.

Review

Brendan Lacey has, in his own words “been involved at almost every level of the Union bar Sabbatical Officer”.

As the first UCDSU Sports Officer, he has been involved in the organisation of numerous events on campus this year, most notably the recent Sig Fest.

He has been active in campaigns with the USI, an organisation that he believes has “consistently delivered on its aim to fight fees and represent students”. He would “love to hear the debate,” regarding USI membership and welcomes criticism of UCDSU. “We can grow and learn a lot when people are criticising us,” Lacey explains.

He believes: “Campaigns have become stale and communications can be a lot more effective.

“We need more than posters and texts,” he says, promoting the idea of apps for smartphones and Facebook. If elected, he would encourage students to become involved in improving the SU website which he believes is “ineffective”.

Lacey has a definite vision for campaigns: “I think waiting for things to come on to our doorstep isn’t good enough anymore. We need to get out and set our agenda from day one.” He hopes to continue to fight fees, lobby against the introduction of a graduate tax, continue the campaign for student nurses and push for a solution to the graduate jobs crisis, amongst various other campaigns.

“We’re brilliant in the SU at getting things done, we’re not so good at telling people about it and that’s what we need to improve on,” Lacey argues.

With regard to class raps Lacey is eager to ensure that accountability is not “a buzzword that nobody ever explains”. He aims to set clear goals for Class Reps and give them the support to achieve them. He hopes to create a handbook containing advice from Sabbatical Officers, which will allow reps to deal with student issues on the spot.

As regards the training weekend, he wants to “keep the good points and bring down costs”. He would attempt this initiative through “campus swaps” with other universities, though not Trinity College or DCU, as he believes that this would defeat the purpose of going “off-campus. A university is purpose built for training students,” Lacey explains, citing the cost of hotels with conference facilities as that which has driven costs upward in previous years.

Though admittedly under financial strain, Lacey will accept a pay cut should he be elected: “I’m not the president, if he cuts my wages I’m happy enough with it.”

He is confident that his ideas and experience set him apart from his fellow competitors: “I’ve got the best new ideas and I’ve got the most experience to deliver on them.”

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Name: Suzanne Lee
Age:
21
Course and year: 2nd Year Mathematical Science
Do you drink, smoke or take drugs? Yes, I do all three.
Who are the President, Registrar and Bursar of UCD? The President is obviously Hugh Brady, but I don’t see it as my duty to know who they are. I’m paying to go here, surely it should be them making themselves known to me rather than me having to go and find out who these people are.
How do you rate the performance of this year’s officer? Before I started this campaign I went and read Pat de Brún’s manifesto from last year and looking at it, I can’t remember anything that he’s actually properly followed through on, but that isn’t to say that there isn’t. The officers seem to be grand individually when you go to them with anything, but in terms of working together and pulling off stuff, they don’t seem to be able to do that.

Review
Suzanne Lee is an active campaigner involved with Shell to Sea, Free Education For Everyone (FEE) and the Alliance for Choice to name but a few.

She criticises what she believes to be the “lack of transparency” in UCDSU and the actions of USI in condemning the group of students who occupied the Department of Finance at the November 3rd Education not Emigration March. Lee does not believe USI is worth the affiliation fee, but does not see this “as a reason to leave it, I see that more as a reason to change it”.

She believes that there is a severe lack of communication between the Students’ Union and the student body. “For a Union that’s supposed to represent however many people, they’re not very good at telling you what’s going on,” Lee argues. She cites the failure to publicise the referendum on changing the title of Women’s Officer to Equality Officer as one example of their inefficiency in this regard.

“I think in terms of campaigns, UCD has a lot of them need to be re-vamped,” Lee states, deeming the standard of campaigns this year to be “dire”.  “Nobody is consulting students on what they want campaigns on,” she explains. If elected, Lee aims to promote peaceful direct action in place of “silly letter writing campaigns” to fight rising reg fees, student nurses’ pay cuts and promote more effective mental health awareness.

Lee is prepared to discuss her own experience with mental health issues in the campaign for change: “No one else is doing enough to end stigma, no one else is doing something about this, so it might be hard, but I’m going to have to talk.”

With regard to Class Rep training, Lee’s policy is simple: she will hold it on campus. She dismisses the argument that off-campus training is important for ensuring a collective audience: “[If] you run for that job, you should be focused,” she says. “When you get trained for a job […] you get trained on the job, and I don’t see why this should be any different.”

Lee states that her involvement with FEE will not influence her agenda if elected: “If I’m doing something for someone, I will listen to them rather than people in the background.” She acknowledges that her policies differ from other candidates’, but insists that this will merely encourage her to lobby more effectively rather than walking away.

She has stated in her manifesto that she is prepared to take a pay cut if elected.

Lee believes that she will bring a much-needed fresh perspective to the role: “I actually want to work for [students], not further my career or better my CV.”

What is RON?

RON stands for Re-Open Nominations and will appear as an option at the bottom of voting ballots. Students would vote RON when they are dissatisfied with the candidates running for election and seek another election so that alternative options may be pursued.

Students can thus vote for RON as they would any other candidate and its votes are also tallied and weighted in the same manner as they would be for other candidates. If RON is elected, the Union Returning Officer will invite nominations again and organise another election as soon as possible.

RON is especially pertinent in cases where a candidate is running unopposed and students seek an alternative to this candidate. This enables the situation to be more democratic, as it prevents students from being elected by default.

There has been a particularly strong RON campaign for this year’s race for Education Officer, as many students are unhappy that Sam Geoghegan is the only candidate actively running for election.

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