SU Elections: Education Officer Analysis

 
 

Originally beginning with four interested candidates before being whittled down to one active candidate, the race for Education Officer has clearly been the most eventful and controversial, leaving RON as Geoghegan’s main opposition.

Geoghegan’s appeal against Aine Gilhooly’s late submission has left certain factions seeking a RON vote, but while that has been a contentious issue since the race began, Geoghegan must be judged on whether he can benefit the students of UCD or not. While Jennifer Fox could still win the election in theory, falling ill at such an unfortunate time means she is unable to carry out a substantial challenge against Geoghegan.

So what does Geoghegan bring as a candidate? A lot of the problems he aims to address stems from his own experiences in areas such as grants and registration. From this, he is sympathetic towards those who face the same problems.

His emphasis on improving communication between the university and students through a texting service and easing the burden on students in areas such as repeats and resits and grants, while idealistic, is a step in the right direction.

There is a honestly and frankness to his personality which is refreshing, however these same qualities could potentially rub people up the wrong way as he discovered before, and Geoghegan may need to work on this if he’s dealing with the university.

While he has a good working knowledge about the university and councils, he doesn’t possess the same experience or profile previous officers have had which may result in a steeper learning curve for him if he is elected.

There are certain parts of his manifesto, such as the introduction of extra-curricular credits, have already been in the works while others areas, such as the 24-hour study area, are already going to be introduced.

On the other hand, those parts of his manifesto that are original, such as holding an Electives Expo over the first two weeks, are very ambitious and could easily prove to be a logistical headache. Arranging for lecturers and tutors from each school and programme to dedicate their time over this period will take a significant amount of organisation and preparation for it to truly benefit students choosing electives.

Overall, Geoghegan is solid if a little unspectacular, but maybe that isn’t a bad thing. Whether you agree with his decision to appeal or not, students should decide whether they feel Geoghegan is capable of managing this role, or if voting RON will benefit everyone more in the long run. Either way, the drama won’t be ending soon.

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Name: Sam Geoghegan

Age: 20

Course and year: Third-Year Economics and Politics

Do you drink, smoke or take drugs? I drink occasionally, I work in a pub so I’m surrounded by drink all the time, I don’t smoke and I don’t do drugs, I never have.

Who are the President, Registrar and Bursar of UCD? President is Dr Hugh Brady, Registrar is Dr Philip Nolan and the Bursar is Gerry O’Brian.

What is the most important part of being education officer? In my opinion, it is the link between the university and the students, so arguably it is the most important position of the five sabbatical positions

Review

Currently the only active candidate in the race for Education Officer, Sam Geoghegan refers to both his time on the Economics staff-student committee and as Economics Class Rep as giving him the necessary experience for the role.

Currently the vice-secretary of Students’ Union Council and Treasurer of the Kevin Barry Cumann, Geoghegan describes himself as “hard-working, organised” and “perhaps a little too honest”, and says that “a lot of people who had the role before say I would be good for the role…[and] I think my policies are quite good.”

Geoghegan cites grants, library opening hours and registration as three of the main issues facing UCD students, the latter he feels is a huge issue for incoming students. “You’re thrown in the deep end, you’re hearing all these terms you wouldn’t know through school. Electives, seminars, tutorials, what are these?”

He believes that one of the bigger problems is the lack of communication and clarity between students and the university and cited the events of last semester’s exams as an example. “I wouldn’t say [how the university handled it was] horrendous, but no one knew what was going on. I had an exam the other day and I only found out on Facebook…I think that’s a joke.”

To tackle this problem, he hopes to bring in a texting service that will alert students to any cancellations of lectures or exams. He envisions that this would be conducted by each school if the system is required and states: “If UCD want to stay in the top 100 (Times Higher Education World University Rankings), I think it’s needed.”

Another of his main ideas is to introduce an Electives Expo during the first two weeks of term that would showcase available electives from all programmes and schools in the university. He singled out the O’Reilly Hall as the preferred venue, although he mentioned the Astra Hall or a marquee setup (similar to the Freshers’ Tent) as other possible venues.

Explaining that the expo would “bring clarity or what module they’re going to pick if they do pick electives”, Geoghegan claims that it would help strengthen the degrees of students by allowing them a more informed choice instead of choosing ones randomly. “If you have an Electives Expo, you’ll have lecturers there, people who have done it before, you have tutors…maybe that will correlate with what you want to do [with your degree]”

Geoghegan praised the current sabbatical team, but felt that the majority of students were disillusioned with the SU, saying: “There’s 23,000 students in UCD and just over 4,000 voters. That is a sign.”

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