A constitutional review committee has been established to draft a new constitution for the Students’ Union. This committee consists of chairperson Students’ Union President, Pat de Brún, the remaining sabbatical officers, excluding the Ents Officer, two council-elected class reps, one of last year’s presidential candidates, Brenadan Lannoye, and solicitor Richard Hammond.
De Brún is trying to “reach as large a catchment as possible and every sector of society in UCD” when writing the new document, and has consequently contacted society auditors, sports clubs, sabbatical officers from the past ten years as well as all students so as to gain their input. This is in an effort to “dispel the idea that the Union is a clique. I think, as part of the Constitutional Review process, we need to try and open up the Union and pick out the faults. It can be difficult when you’re someone who works in the Union to see some of the faults that people see externally”.
De Brún considers the current constitution not fit for purpose, “I don’t think it represents modern UCD and I think there are parts of it which constrain the work of the Union and what the Union should be, the good work that we should be doing”.
The new constitution will not simply be an amendment of the one currently in place, but be a brand new document; “we’re not relying on the old constitution and changing a couple of things from it, we’re looking at a completely clean slate, building from the ground up, and everything is on the table: that ranges from who the sabbatical officers are to the structures of the Union and how the elections are run to everything that we do”.
One of the more contentious issues for de Brún is the article relating to class rep quotas, “I find it quite frustrating that … there is one representative for every ‘x’ amount of students … we have one rep for languages, literature and music – anyone can tell you that music and languages have almost nothing in common, we have loads of people in those classes that would love to represent their classes but they can’t under the current system”.
The committee hopes to meet five times over the course of the year. According to de Brún the meetings won’t take place more often as “you can meet for an amount of time quite often or you can meet less regularly and give a whole day or a whole weekend. It’s by far the most efficient way to get things done; the nature of the work means that you really need to get stuck into it, it’s not a stop start thing”.
The final draft of the constitution is expected to be presented to Students’ Union Council on January 19th 2012. A vote will take place at the subsequent council to determine whether a referendum should take place. If the vote is positive, the constitution will be put forward to UCD students to be voted upon alongside the sabbatical elections. These will take place prior to the two-week study period in Semester Two.