By Conor Daly.

Final year English and History student Mary O’Connell from Tralee, County Kerry describes herself as a fun person who has always been involved in student life. While you can make what you want of her Leo star sign, Mary is running for Entertainment Officer for the 2022/23 Academic year and looks forward to improving student life if elected.

Why are you running for ents?

I am running for Ents because I believe that I have the experience, passion and personality necessary for the role. I want to deliver diverse, safe, accessible, fun and new events for all students. I have always been involved in student groups and organising events. I was on the Student Council in secondary school and I was also Head Girl meaning I got to organise events such as our School’s Debs. Once I got to college I kept it up and amped it up being Class Rep every year as well as being on various societies as a committee member such as the Welfare and Accessibility Officer of Fem Soc and the Entertainments Officer of the Gov Pol Society helping to organise the Gov Poll Ball in 2019. Outside of college, I have been involved in groups such as the European Youth Parliament Ireland where I am currently the Entertainments officer on the National Committee and have occupied various roles organising events for young people all over Ireland and Europe. Using this experience as well as my passion and personality I want to bring UCC Ents to new heights,

What do you hope to bring to the role?

I hope to bring my experience in student life and organising events alongside my passion for fun to bring a new and fresh energy to the role. I want to continue existing traditions and events that have always been and will always be popular with students such as Freshers and RAG whilst still seeking to enhance and improve these events. I also want to draw from my own experience and the experiences of other students as I have noticed some clear gaps that should be filled as well as improvements that I think are necessary. When I do something I commit 100% to it, I am a dedicated, enthusiastic, fun and entertaining person with lots of experience and lots of passion. I hope to bring this to the role to work generally within the union to better UCC students’ experience, to continue and improve existing events and to implement new events and systems.

What specifically do you want to achieve as the Ents officer?

As I stated before I want to continue existing popular events such as Freshers, RAG, live gigs and on-campus markets and generally work within the Union to better UCC students’ experience. However, I also have a lot of events and systems that I would specifically achieve as the Ents Officer. I would love to see a UCC Halloween. The perfect time between Freshers and Christmas at a time of the semester when students are often in need of some fun and a morale boost. I would love to go all out for Halloween and bring that spooky spirit to campus at a time with staff and students dressing up, a haunted house, themed events and more.

I also believe an Ents Rep Revamp is absolutely necessary. As an Arts student, I can unfortunately say that I have never had a class social and I know for students in very large courses like Commerce that this is not uncommon. This leaves a lot of students feeling isolated and lonely. I would tackle this issue by providing support, training, and guidance to Ents Reps as well as organising package deals that Ents Reps can avail of such as mystery tours and class hoodies. 

I would love to bring Refreshers back which has unfortunately been cancelled for two years, Refreshers can almost be better than Freshers as people are more settled in and ready to have fun so I will bring Refreshers back bigger and better than ever. 

I would also seek to establish a student ticket hub page where students can buy or sell tickets Anyone with social media has probably seen people’s stories desperately looking to buy, sell, or swap tickets for venues in Cork lately. I would establish a student ticket hub page where students can buy or sell their tickets so that all tickets are in one centralised and easy to access place

Though there are already groups on campus running great LGBTQ events it is time we bring it to new heights with a UCC pride – a mixture of fun and informative talks, events and nights out including drag shows and themed nights. Pride events are some of the most popular and fun events and I think it is our time to shine 

Accessibility and sustainability are very important to me. I have heard repeatedly from students such as those who commute, mature students, postgrads that they feel excluded from events. I would seek to rectify this such as by organising events on campus during the day and working closely with Ents Reps to ensure students in their class are included in events and gatherings.

I would also work closely with other groups such as the DSS and DAS to make sure events are as accessible as possible. I would also advocate for longer hours for the CALM zone 

In terms of sustainability, I would ensure events are as environmentally sustainable as possible and liaise continually with the Green Campus Committee, Environmental Society and the Environment and Sustainability Representative. 

Do you think the role of the Ents Officer is more important now, especially for students who have had a limited college experience during the pandemic?

I definitely think that the Ents Officer, and the SU in general, are more important now than ever. After two difficult years for everyone, many students have been left missing out on key events and beloved aspects of the college experience. You have final years who have done half of their degrees from their bedrooms and first years who were midway through secondary school when the pandemic hit. Now that we are (hopefully) heading into our first full “normal” academic year I believe it is absolutely necessary to make up for lost time as well as learning from the last two years to make more diverse, accessible and fun events for all. 

What do you feel worked well for the ents/the SU in general this year and would like to continue/improve if you were elected?

From my experience I think this year’s SU did a fantastic job, managing to advocate for students and bring back some normality to student life as well as making many improvements and generally bringing a very nice vibe and energy to the Union. I think students loved the return to traditions such as RAG as well as the introduction of campus markets and the increase in live gigs such as in downtown venues. I would definitely love to generally continue this good work, particularly the markets and live gigs that have proved so successful this year. However, I also think it is important to make sure that in the excitement of the return to “normal” student life that we don’t leave behind students who sometimes feel excluded such as those who commute, mature students and postgrads. I would love to offer a diverse range of events as explained in my manifesto to make sure as many events as possible are as accessible as possible for as many students as possible.