Editorial: The UCD Ball

 
 

For a seemingly innocuous and fun social event, the UCD Ball and recent circumstances relating to it have provided a telling insight into the disparate mindsets of students and college authorities

It says a lot about UCD and the priorities of Irish students in general that over the course of the academic year – a year that has brought a new government, mass emigration and the ignominious bailout of our banks – that despite all these disturbing, potentially life-changing occurrences, the events surrounding the UCD Ball have arguably drawn the most impassioned response of all amongst students.

First, there was the announcement of the lineup and the ensuing debacle that followed. While students were, of course, entitled to be underwhelmed by the preliminary acts announced, the abuse aimed at UCD Entertainments Vice-President Jonny Cosgrove was unacceptable.

The sinister, loutish comments, which appeared on the UCD Ents Facebook page, were a sad indictment of the startling immaturity of many UCD students. These comments were justly condemned by the vast majority of level-headed students. Whether the Students’ Union can successfully sanction any of those responsible for making the comments remains to be seen, however it is worth investigating this possibility if it encourages people to think before they type in future.

The UCD Ball’s subsequent cancellation naturally exacerbated matters. The Students’ Union say they are blameless in the matter and have suggested college authorities are entirely responsible for the debacle. UCD, meanwhile, have been conspicuously silent on the matter, save for a letter from Registrar Philip Nolan addressed to Students’ Union President, Paul Lynam, briefly outlining the reasons why the Ball was cancelled and emphasising that “student health and safety is of paramount importance to us all”.

Regardless of what either side claims, the fact that these obstacles could not be resolved sooner represents a stunning level of collective incompetence. Impressive as the Students’ Union response has been with the ‘Save Our Ball’ campaign – a campaign which was supported by 3,000 people on Facebook in addition to acquiring 1,300 signatures on an online petition at the time of going to print – the strong impression remains that this situation could have been averted entirely.

The Union state that “University authorities reneged on the commitment, given to the Students’ Union to close campus as per the stipulations laid down,” before adding that this commitment had been made on October 21st. But clearly, the mistake was owing to a failure to effectively communicate at a fundamental level, something that absolves neither party entirely from blame and speaks volumes about the relationship (or lack thereof) that exists between them.

And even if the UCD Ball ultimately goes ahead, it seems unlikely to live up to its billing as “Europe’s biggest private party” and will surely take place on a smaller scale, in comparison with previous years.

Yet while it is disappointing that, as a result of the scheduling problems coupled with the largely underwhelming response following the announcement of its preliminary lineup, the end of year festivities for UCD students might not be as spectacular as was hoped, some perspective is needed. The UCD Ball is, ultimately, little more than an elaborate social event. Some students’ claims that the disappointment surrounding the event has “ruined” college for them seem more than a little hyperbolic.

While it is a shame that the UCD Ball has experienced so many problems, the hysterical reaction of these students seems indulgent, especially at a time when the country is in crisis. The student population need to gain a sense of perspective and be able to prioritise the primary focus of the UCD experience – achieving academic qualifications, which will be required to tackle the ultimate challenge of salvaging our tarnished reputation in Europe and elsewhere and controlling our own destiny.

Thank you

The University Observer wishes to thank everyone involved this year for their devotion to the paper

A word of thanks to people working on The University Observer and our readers is necessary today.

Many people often seem to forget that the section editors and contributors of this newspaper are unpaid students, who devote their free time to helping the paper.

This has been a challenging and at times, turbulent year for the paper, and it says so much about the character of those involved that we have emerged from the experience as a stronger and more cohesive group than ever. We can hold our heads high.

No one can relate to what the job of running this prestigious paper entails until they have experienced first-hand, the obsession, the frustration and the anxiety, which are more than compensated for by the sheer joy and satisfaction that editing it regularly involves.

This job would be simply impossible without the selfless dedication of our contributors, and in particular, the core group of section editors who deserve to be thanked in print.

Killian, you have been like a third full-time editor at times, your dedication to the cause never ceases to amaze me. I can remember editing your very first article when I was a section editor. Watching you grow and develop into a mature and confident journalist has been one of the many highlights I’ve experienced while being involved with this paper.

Emer, your chirpiness and good-humoured nature, coupled with natural wit and flair for creative writing have played a significant role in making this year the best O-two I have seen in all my years writing for the paper.

George, you made an incredibly swift transition from contributor to section editor, but I never had any doubt that the Music section was in assured hands. Your knowledge of music and levels of dedication consistently exceeded all expectations of a section editor’s role.

Jon, your presence has made the office such a fun place to work in. Moreover, your inimitable writing style has added an extra dimension to O-two this year and your articles have always been a pleasure to read. You are a highly intelligent writer with a natural gift for storytelling.

Donna, the Fashion section has been exemplary with you at the helm. Though you only edited it for the final four issues, you still managed to make a considerable impact by putting your own effervescent stamp on the paper.

Leanne, your passion and warmth both in person and in print has simply been a joy to witness. You are undoubtedly one of the best writers to ever grace the pages of this paper, and your mental health article was one of the most powerful and honest pieces of journalism I’ve ever read.

Natalie, people like you are the reason I got so involved with the paper in the first place. Your infectious enthusiasm always enlivened the office and made me smile even during my worst moments, while your creativity and highly entertaining writing style were the hallmarks of a truly outstanding Features section.

Alan, you have brought a fresh perspective to the Science, Health and Technology section and your knowledge of science and all-round friendliness are a credit to you as a person. Working with you has been a pleasure.

Kate, you never fail to amaze me. You should be enormously proud of the talent and versatility which you’ve displayed over the years writing for the paper, and the dignified and selfless manner in which you operate are attributes that make you a truly wonderful section editor and person.

Ryan, being Sports Editor is a difficult job, which often requires you to give up large chunks of your weekend. The fact that you took to this task with consummate ease speaks volumes about you as a person and the obvious excitement and enthusiasm you have for writing sport made you perfect for the section.

Sarah, I think christening you ‘Sunny D’ was one of my most astute moments, as it perfectly encapsulates your personality. Your promotion to Chief News Reporter provided a breath of fresh air to the office at a time when it was desperately needed, and it was one of the swiftest and easiest decisions I made once I became Editor. Journalism is in your DNA.

Katie, you truly are a baby-faced assassin. You are a wonderful writer and a terrific person to boot. You are also probably the most organised person I’ve ever met – I’ll never know how you manage to juggle so many different activities and I’m sure you’ll be a success in whatever career you elect to pursue amid the variety of options at your disposal.

Amy, News Editor is often the most thankless task in the paper. Yet you undertook the role with such passion, enthusiasm and wiliness that the role fitted you perfectly. Thank you for being a better news reporter than I ever will. Your sheer determination and indefatigable nature will bring you far in life.

To all the ex-Editors and Deputy Editors, and particularly the ones who presided over my years writing with the paper – Stephen and Michelle, Rob and Dave, Dani and Zelda, and Catriona and Gav – your unrelenting support, encouragement and friendship has meant more to me than you’ll ever realise. You have set the bar incredibly high and I have done my best to uphold the high standards that you set.

In addition, there are three members of staff that I have had the pleasure of working with over the course of the year that I wish to thank.

Bridget, I know you put your heart and soul into working with the paper and you should be more than proud of the first seven issues of this volume. Remember that the paper will always love you, and that we fully appreciate all the amazing work you’ve done for us over the years.

Jenn, thank you so much being an awesome friend and for having the Zen-like patience to put up with my penchant for submitting copy at ungodly hours. The design of the paper has been consistently excellent this year and I’m sure you will continue to do amazing work for whichever publication is lucky enough to have you in the future.

Quinton, you’ve been a fantastic Deputy Editor and friend. I’ve never worked with anyone who has complemented my strengths and compensated for my shortcomings as much as you have. You truly are a special person.

To my family and friends outside the paper, I also wish to express my gratitude. Thank you for supporting me through the good times and the bad. You have kept me sane during the occasional hours I spent outside the office.

Finally, I wish to thank our readers. Whether you are an avid reader or someone who just glances at Mystic Mittens occasionally, your feedback and support means so much to the paper. Always remember the importance of student media and that we care every bit as deeply about student issues as the majority of you undoubtedly do.

Student media is an essential component of university life. It’s the reason so many talented people fill our national airwaves, newspapers and television sets. It’s the reason thousands upon thousands of students marched to protest against the reintroduction of third-level fees. And it’s the reason that drives me to finish writing this article at 5.01am on a Friday morning.

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