The first UCD Students’ Union General Meeting to be held in twenty-four years, held tonight in the Astra Hall, has failed to reach quorum. The assembly, which was called to decide the motion ‘Should the Union General Meeting overturn the decision by the Union to close the Print Bureau (SU General Office) in the Library/Arts Tunnel?’, was open to all member of the Students’ Union, and required five per cent of the student body (approximately 1,000 students) to vote in order to be constitutionally binding.
The Meeting achieved a total of 157 votes, 156 of which were valid, leaving the Meeting over 800 votes short of achieving quorum. The total cost of the Meeting, including twelve staff members and the printing of ballot papers, is estimated to come to over €3,000.
Of the votes cast, eighty-seven voted in proposition of the motion, while sixty-nine voted in opposition. As such, the Returning Officer Morgan Shelley announced that the motion was inquorate, and therefore invalid. Less than one per cent of the student body partook in the vote.
Regarding the low turnout for the vote, the final speaker for the Proposition, Elizabeth Coote commented, “I’m disappointed on that, because let’s be honest, 23,000 students – how many actually elect the Students’ Union? Very few students within the college go for election. We got 3,000 [signatures] in seven to eight days.”
UCD SU President Pat de Brún commented, “Reaching quorum was extremely unlikely. I think that was clear for everyone from the start, including the proposer, with the full knowledge of what the cost would be to the Union, so to be honest, I think the end result is quite counter-productive compared to what the intended result behind the petition was.”
The first speaker for the Opposition, UCD SU Campaigns and Communications Officer Brendan Lacey stated his concern about the cost of the event, remarking, “No democratic process of the Union could be considered a waste of money, but it’s unfortunate that in a year where we’ve endeavoured to make huge savings across the board … to see it struck out with what turned out be a measure that wasn’t promoted well, and really won’t have any binding effect on the Union… I’m disappointed.”
When asked whether this result would end the campaign to overturn the decision made by the SU, the proposer of the motion, Karl Gill stated, “We’ll have to stick our heads together, but chances are, if the two women [Jacqueline Carey and Anne Dunne, both made redundant before Christmas] aren’t willing to do much more after this then we will have to call it a day, if that’s the case. However, I still think the campaign proved a lot of reasonable points, that there is a frivolous attitude when it comes to finances in the Union, that there is a tendancy towards Ents and less of a tendancy towards educational services. I think, if we get anything out of it, it’s that student activism is still alive and is still fighting for the genuine, real things that are on students’ minds today.”
Photography by Dave Nowak, Chief Photographer.