Candidates for this Year’s SU Presidential Race recently sat down with Eoin McSweeney to talk manifestos and election promises
Q: So you’ve mentioned in your manifesto an SU lottery. Do you think that students will have the money to participate in this?
Well the tickets could be as low as a euro or two. I think that this being the price of a Mars Bar or a bottle of Coke, it is sold in a way where they can see that it is going directly back to them. At the same time, I’m not telling everyone that they have to buy them, but it is for a good cause.
Q: Do you think that having more clinics will diminish their value?
When I say clinics I mean that I just meet with students. Look, I haven’t been as involved in the Union as other candidates, and as an outsider and from the people that have spoken to me so far, they say that they haven’t had their voices heard, they’re not being represented.
Q: Where do you suggest that extra parking be made available?
Obviously, there isn’t much room to manoeuvre on this, but in an election year, you’d be amazed what movement can be made. I think that if we lobby the Cork City Council, there could be areas made available. If elected I promise to look really hard for any area that could be used.
Q: Out of all the positions on the SU, which do you think is the most important?
Welfare Officer. Over the years here I’ve seen students that have excelled in secondary school but that have been affected by drugs and alcohol and they’ve fallen back. So for me, in my role as president, I will be working extremely hard with the welfare officer. When first years come in, we want to develop their academic abilities but also their personalities.
Q: What experience do you bring to this role?
I worked for four years in the department of Government studying policies. I think that policies are my greatest strength. I always look at things from a grass root level. Policies come from the issues that people are having and in my manifesto, I’ve looked at the issues that I’ve had and I have policies that will solve to problems other people have.
Q: What would your ideal SU be out of all the candidates running?
For Deputy, I would love to work with James Upton in campaigning, he has unbelievable passion. Molloy is also there and he is some fresh blood, which I think is always good. For Education, Joe Kennedy has done a fantastic job with the library, but again for me, we need to keep growing and develop the union, so Ian Hutchinson. Hannah Eames for Welfare. Comms, Barry Nevin has done well, but again, Cathal Walsh is fresh blood. For Ents, I know Dane Moriarty personally, so I’d go for him.
Q: Do you think that the student body will be focused enough to continue RAG throughout the year? You talk about wanting to raise more money, but will the student body be able to focus that much?
What I propose is that you need people who want to embrace the spirit of adventure for the year. Now, I’m not saying that they are out every weekend, it’s not a burst like R&G Week is. People might go back to their locality and say look, I’m doing this to raise money for UCC R&G. It’s intermittent bursts of activity, but you’re doing it with 20,000 students. That’s how you get numbers and that’s how it will be spread throughout the year.
Q: Is a 24 hour library is a realistic proposition?
Yeah, definitely. I think this year’s SU showed what we achieved with a realistic goal and what can be done with hard work. It didn’t happen overnight. The library was a really big problem and now with the hour extensions that Joe Kennedy is after achieving with the rest of the SU – and it’s certainly achievable. Look at what was achieved with Brookfield.
Q: Why do you think equality still hasn’t been achieved in UCC?
I suppose there’s still remnants of lad culture in UCC, and there’s still a long way to go on equality. I don’t think that equality is something that you ever fully achieve. But I think the SU next year can help make progress.
Q: If you had any proposed constitutional changes for the SU, what would they be?
I wouldn’t necessarily add any changes, it’s not for me to decide – it’s for me to facilitate a review group, but certain things need to be looked at.
Q: As a medical student, do you think you will be focused too much on Brookfield and be biased?
No, not at all. This year I was student council chair and I focused on students across all colleges. A strength can be that I can focus better on Brookfield and other med and health students better than anyone else can, but I’m still going to do a great job on main campus.
Q: Who would be your ideal SU to work with out of all the candidates running?
As it’s 4 o’clock on a Friday, I’ve yet to see all the manifestos. I’ve stated specifically that I want to work with Joe Kennedy, but beyond that I don’t think it would be constructive to start naming people. As I said in my manifesto, I’m going to get the best out of them, no matter who it is.
Q: If you could make one change to UCC, what would that change be?
From being out on the campaign trail, people have said to me, I’m only one, my vote doesn’t matter. And it’s exactly for that reason that they should vote. As soon as they come out and vote they’re counted and they become 20,000 voices. We need to open up the student union completely and reform the way that we communicate with students.
Q: Why are you running for president and not another position on this year’s SU?
The reason that I’m running for president is because I know that I have the skills and the drive to do it. Since before I can remember, I’ve been put in positions of leadership. We need to have a team, and I think that I’ll be the strongest team leader.
Q: Have you thought about an all-inclusive UCC Ball?
It’s actually included in my manifesto. I don’t want to call it a ball, I want to move it towards a music festival. We need to be looking at alternative venues, pushing the boundaries. My big goal is to get Live at the Marquee open a week early so we can do something at the end of May for all the students.
Q: Would you feel that the SU is too left-wing?
Everyone, no matter who they are, is entitled to be equal. We’re a third level institution, we are the future of the country. We need to be open to every possibility and we need to be completely transparent.
Q: Do you think that the work you will do next year is worth the pay that you will get?
We have to be professional in what we do. I don’t think that any candidate is doing it for the money, I don’t think that even comes into it. I think that if you’re doing it for the money, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. You have to do it for the students and the college.
Q: Who would be your ideal SU out of all the candidates running?
I don’t really want to comment much about president. If I was to pick a Deputy I would pick Cormac Molloy. For Comms, Barry Nevin has done an absolute mountain of work. In terms of Education, Joe Kennedy is the main man. He’s done so much work, but there’s still a lot to do. For welfare, this again is highly contested, if I was to pick one I’d go for Hannah because of her background in Law. For Ents, I couldn’t choose. But I think whoever is elected would do a good job for any position.
R.O.N. (Re-open Nominations)
Q: You’ve ran for this position a number of times. What has losing in the past taught you and do you think that you have a better chance this year?
Well it’s well documented that I partake in the elections on an annual basis and people do seem to make a joke of it. Many a time I’ve heard shouts of “will we vote for R.O.N. for the laugh” or “who is R.O.N?” These comments do hurt, but they’ve made me a stronger person. As Donald Trump once said: “Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.”
Q: You’re a mysterious character, and your manifesto doesn’t give too much away. Tell us about your campaign.
I like long walks on the beach, Paris and romantic novels. My ideal date would be an evening at the opera followed by a meal only lit by candlelight and under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. My ideal partner would have to be funny, charming and clever, looks don’t matter to me so much. In terms of sexual preferences, after reading Fifty Shades of Grey I’m into BDSM, but I’m open to anything.
Q: Ahem, I was thinking more along the line of campaign policies?
Oh right! Well as you know anonymity is a huge problem in UCC. You can’t go anywhere without people trying to find out more about you; what you look like, what you stand for, what’s your purpose etc. I’d like to go back to the days when presidential candidates could go around without anyone asking silly questions like those above.
Q: If you were to pick your ideal SU from this year’s candidates, who would they be?
Well that’s tough. I guess that, starting with deputy, R.O.N. is the obvious choice. He’s been an ever present in societies for years and does so much work for the students of UCC. For education, I’ve worked before with R.O.N. and I get on really well with him, so I won’t go much further than that. As for welfare, I don’t know many of the candidates that well at all, but R.O.N. seems like someone who has the needs of UCC students pressed close to his heart. A good friend of mine, R.O.N. is going for Comms, so she seems like the perfect candidate to me. Finally with Ents, it’s tough to call, but R.O.N. is a party animal and would be perfectly suited to the role.