Progress has been made in turning what is currently UCD Students’ Union into UCD Students’ Union Ltd., News Editor Katie Hughes reports.
The initiative is that of current Students’ Union President Pat de Brún and is expected to be completed by 2012. The SU accounts are still being compiled and while De Brún hopes to have drafted final figures and plans of action complete by December, he concedes that it will be January before the SU is ready to “move and step up the restructuring side of things”.
De Brún states that he is “starting to get ideas” of the extent of the SU debt but is unwilling to estimate a figure, “while I want it to be as open as possible, until I have a figure myself I don’t want to speculate”. He admits that the Union will most likely be looking for a loan, “it’s likely enough that we’ll have to get external financing. It is quite likely now; we won’t be in a position to get that until our final accounts are actually done”.
A budget is expected to be presented at the next meeting of Students’ Union Council, “I’m trying to make it as accurate as possible, which means it might take a little bit longer, the last thing I want to do is estimate figures that aren’t fully accurate”. He adds that the national fees campaign will incur significant costs that will need to be factored in.
As a part of the streamlining process, de Brún submitted a request to the Independent Appeals Boards (IAB) to lower sabbatical officers’ wages by ten per cent before he took over the position of President from Paul Lynam in June. The request was rejected as the IAB claimed the other officers would have had a legitimate expectation of a certain sum when running for office.
Regardless of the decision made, Students’ Union Officers have nonetheless seen a reduction in wages. Unlike previous years where an agreement had been in place with the Revenue Commission that officers would not be taxed, they have this year been moved onto the payroll. According de Brún, the move was made as “it was an old agreement and it was just out of date and we wanted to make sure that everything was done perfectly”.
While nothing more can be done for this year’s elects’ wages, IAB may revise them downwards for next year’s officers prior to elections in March.
De Brún is finding the year “extremely challenging” thus far due to the condition the Union’s account emerged to be in over the summer, “it’s certainly not what I expected and it’s not what I thought the year would be at all, but that being said I’m enjoying the challenge because I know it’s the right thing to do and it’ll make a lasting impression and a lasting difference and it will really improve the organisation”.
“It’s definitely a difficult year because we’re facing all these cuts and challenges across the board but it also means that it takes up all of my time personally; other projects that I would have liked to pursue have had to take second place. I’m hoping that towards the New Year, I’ll be able to start focusing more on other things as well.”