Last year, the Education Office of UCDSU was divided into the Undergraduate Education Officer and the Graduate Education Officer. As of yet, it is not clear if this undertaking was the best possible course of action. Of the two, the undergraduate role is seen as the more important.
This year, there are two candidates for this position, fourth year Business and Law student Amy Fox and second year History and German student Bill Thompson, but neither one really stands out as the obvious choice. Both candidates have rather unspectacular manifestos, a fact some might argue is befitting of the position they hope to hold.
Where Fox hopes to stop fees from increasing at all, Thompson seems more resigned to a coming change in the way Irish students pay for their education and has said he would be open to seeing the Australian scheme being adopted, although that does not match the current SU mandate.
Both candidates stress the importance of cooperation with the University on a number of issues, but it is unclear if either of them have the necessary experience to know what to do if negotiations break down.
Thompson hopes to open more libraries than just the James Joyce on Sundays. While his proposal to re-allocate hour from other days might be accepted as it would not increase labour costs, it may not fix the problem, but just move the problem around to a different time to where it currently is.
Fox’s most ambitious goal is arguably her intention to have UCD issue a separate transcript for extra-curricular activities, such as a student’s involvement in societies and sports clubs.
There is certainly a theme this year of the two candidates proposing ideas that have been proposed (and failed) many times before. While it is true that there has been a change in the management structure of the University, a lot of the hurdles to things such as a 24-hour study area are still in place.
One of the biggest criticisms of the previous Education Officers has been their lack of visibility on campus. Fox hopes to become more visible by posting “viral videos” to “highlight issues”, although she admits this is a bit vague. Her idea of holding an education clinic every fortnight in every building seems a little ambitious, but it is a step in the right direction.
Thompson, meanwhile, does not give much information on this in his manifesto beyond the seemingly compulsory claim that he will have more office hours and will be “open and available” to students who need him. He appears to believe that giving more responsibility to class reps will held counteract this.
In what has traditionally been a low-key position in the Union, we have two candidates who have so far failed to make themselves stand out. With low voter turnout already an issue for the Union, it’s hard to imagine either of these candidates inspiring the notoriously apathetic UCD student populace.