Uncertainty over Constitutional Referendum

 
 

UCD Students’ Union President Rachel Breslin has postponed the referendum due to take place on February 13th to amend the Students’ Union Constitution, which was introduced last year.

There is currently uncertainty over when this referendum will take place however, as while it was due to run alongside the USI Referendum on February 20th and 21st, Breslin is unsure that the SU has had enough time to “make sure we have consulted [students] widely enough to run it”.

At the time of going to print, Breslin was in the process of obtaining the approval of UCDSU Council via email to run the constitutional referendum as planned originally. The Students’ Union has until Wednesday January 6th to obtain this approval or the referendum will be postponed. The SU would have to again go through the process of seeking Council’s approval for it to take place alongside sabbatical elections in early March.

The proposed changes to the Constitution were put forward after a review group, consisting of both elected council members and ordinary union members, met three times to discuss solutions to alleviate issues which have “hindered” the Students’ Union this year such as confidentiality clauses for the Welfare and Education Officers, and confusion surrounding the roles of Union Council Representatives (UCRs).

With the review group thus far focusing on drafting a new audited constitution, little effort has been committed to informing students about the results such changes could cause, a problem that Breslin acknowledged while stressing the benefits of holding the referendum at the end of February.

“I want to make sure that students don’t feel like this is something that is being sprung on them, an unknown. It’s preferable to run it with the USI referendum so that it doesn’t get caught up in the chaos of sabbatical elections because that can make students sceptical in itself. I would much rather run it with the USI referendum because… this way there would be only two ballot papers which is a lot easier than eight, which it would be if it were run with sabbatical elections,” she explained.

 

Breslin was keen to emphasise that this review only sought to include “minor” amendments, noting a number of issues that had arisen: “Some sections of the constitution and the standing orders just don’t correlate at all on technicality points. The IADB has had a few changes just to the running of elections just to have it a bit clearer because although it hasn’t become a problem this year, it would be something we are worried about over a few years and a few different situations arising.”

Although the posited changes are aimed at helping the day-to-day management of Students’ Union activities, Breslin is wary that such constitutional reviews shouldn’t be an annual undertaking. She commented, saying: “That was the biggest fear in forming the group and why I limited it. This Constitution was a complete document last year; it has a set financial vision. You can’t be reviewing the Constitution every year. It’s better have one year to see how it worked and make the changes that need to be made and then agree that it is a document that is now complete for the next few years.”

Although passing the referendum would result in changes to the constitution, only pre-stated modifications that have been circulated to students will be viable for review, with any amendment that would reinstate the position of Entertainments Vice-President not possible in this review.

 

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