CANDIDATES FOR THIS YEAR’S SU EDUCATION RACE RECENTLY SAT DOWN WITH EOIN MCSWEENEY TO TALK POLICY AND PAY
Q: Do you want to change structure of the class reps system?
Well in my opinion, the current class rep system is working quite well, but there is obviously improvements that can be made. They are a fundamental part of the college, but I feel that we are better off putting money into something that isn’t working well.
Q: Do you think the Education Officer did a good job?
Personally, I think he did, especially when it came to class reps. However, improvements can always be made. The library was an issue, he assumed office in July and he should have assumed that library working hours were going to be an issue. So I think he did a good job, but fresh ideas are needed.
Q: Have you ever been in a leadership role?
I’ve been working full time in Smyths Toys, 35 hours a week, during college. I’m currently a senior member of staff there so I’m in charge of delegating tasks there. So I feel that I have the leadership qualities needed for the role of Education Officer. Because I’ve been working there so much I feel that I haven’t given back to the college as much as I would have wanted and that’s why I’m now running for election. Next year, if elected, I won’t be working there, I’ll be taking up a full time sabbatical position.
Q: Do you think the work you do is worth the pay that you get as an officer?
With the job I do, I get paid minimum wage and you work 9-5. The salary is great, it is generous, but it shouldn’t be important. You should have a candidate that is willing to do the hard work.
Q: If you were to get elected, who would be your ideal SU?
Joel for President (he has since dropped out of the race). Hannah for Welfare, she seems like a lovely girl. Sophie for Ents. Cormac Molloy, who I met last night, seems like a genuinely nice guy and I’d probably go for him for deputy.
Q: What do you like most about UCC?
There’s a great diversity in the college and it’s great to work with the students and lecturers here.
Q: Would you say that class rep training is a waste of time?
No not at all. It’s essential that the people who are being class reps are the essential links between what’s going in every class and the union and what’s going on in every committee. They need to be trained properly so that they know what they’re doing and they know what they’re up to. It can be done more efficiently and better. We don’t go on the night away this year, we didn’t focus on the social side of things, we focused on the practicalities.
Q: Do you think that semesterisation has failed?
It hasn’t failed in the sense that it’s happened. The implementation of it hasn’t been good enough in a lot of areas. I’m the sole voice on the committee saying that it’s not good enough.
Q: A number of candidates have promised to donate some of their pay to charity if elected. What is your opinion on what is essentially a pay cut?
Well, the issue of donating a large sum of your wages to charity is done with the right intentions, but it’s not particularly well thought out. In my opinion, the Student Hardship Fund should be something that the university funds, but now this could totally take the pressure off them. I’d hate it the issue of wage cuts became a regular thing in elections, because people may be put off running if they can’t afford to take a pay cut. We don’t want a race to the bottom.
Q: Looking at this year’s candidates, who would be your ideal SU next year?
That’s a tough question. I haven’t had a chance yet to read through all the manifestos and it’s very tough to jump to conclusions if you don’t know what their policies are. I would have no problem saying that Aidan Coffey would be my first choice for president.
Q: Do you think that because of your relationship with Coffey and you both being good friends would mean that he couldn’t properly run the SU as president?
I think it’s actually a good thing, because we’d be open to criticism of each other. When we were writing the manifesto, we helped each other out and we could say ‘oh that’s terrible, take it out.’
Q: What made you make the decision to donate half your pay to charity?
I’ve been very lucky and I know that others aren’t as fortunate as I have been. I’d like to give back in any way I possibly can. I mean that very genuinely.
Q: It’s been suggested that taking a pay cut of sorts, it could turn into a situation in the future where people race to the bottom. Do you think it’s unfair on future elections?
I don’t think personally it will happen. If this was to become a fad, you would see everyone trying to have a race to the bottom in this election and that just hasn’t happened. I’ve discussed this with a lot of people, I’ve discussed it with family and friends, because I really wanted to do it. It took me a long time and I don’t think it’s a decision that you’d take lightly.
Q: One of the other candidates has already served as education officer. Do you still think that you’re more qualified than him?
Change is a very important thing. I think that we need new fresh ideas and a new approach. I actually think that because I was a class rep and a college rep I have more experience than Joe Kennedy because he was just a college rep. I think that I can bring something fresh to the role.
Q: Do you think that a 24 study space could be dangerous to students and hazardous to their health?
You could say that, but people are going to do it at home anyway, it’s not the facility itself.
Q: Do you think that the Irish language is dying?
I wouldn’t say that it’s dying, because there are still people who are passionate about it, but it is in danger. We have got to promote the language.
Q: Do you think that class rep training is a waste of time?
No not at all. Speaking as a rep in first year, I got to know a lot of people that were class reps. I got to know the way that the Union works, and I got to know a lot of the practices. There are some things that can make it more practical though.