By Stephen Moynihan.
The sole President candidate in this year’s SU elections is Asha Woodhouse, who is seeking re-election
for the position. Born and bred in Cork and with an extensive history of activism, key focuses of Asha’s campaign are cost of living, accommodation, and access to education.
“To me all these issues are interlinked and create barriers to higher education and huge disparities between the experience of one student to the next. Knowing what I have learned from the past year, I know that the months leading up to Budget 2023 are critical in lobbying the Government to tackle these barriers and will be a priority for me if re-elected”, she states.
She also aims to raise the pay rate for students employed by UCC, arguing that “It’s wrong that we are not paying students we employ a living wage so that they can properly support themselves”. UCC’s Consent Framework and Bystander Intervention are also mentioned as issues of importance, along with helping to develop the University’s strategic plan and enhancing SU services.
Asha believes that she can achieve these goals through engagement with other members of the SU and via lobbying, negotiating, engaging with stakeholders, and working with staff members, part of “the myriad of things you have to do to get things done in an institutional setting”. Her leadership and teamwork skills as key to facilitating her achievement of these goals, she argues.
Asked why she wishes to run for president again, Asha states that she loves her job: “Getting to work for students, lobbying locally and nationally, working to improve their conditions, and campaigning on various important issues, I really enjoy it”. On top of this, she believes that providing continuity and stability to the SU is important in the wake of the turbulent times brought by COVID-19: “All year it’s felt like we’re in this weird transitional period coming out of a pandemic, although COVID is still very real”, she states.
“Of course, COVID has dominated a huge amount of discourse this year within the University and consequently everything we do in the SU. I felt like we didn’t really get to tackle a lot of the issues that we wanted to, or fully bring back student life the way it was before. Running again felt like I would get the opportunity to see these things through”.
Commenting on the strange situation of running unopposed for the head position of the SU, Asha states that she is “relieved because it has meant that I can fully focus on work and the campaign I’m running is more of a background thing”.
“I don’t think it’s a good thing that I’m uncontested or that we’re seeing so many positions uncontested this year”, she continues. “I want people to vote for me because they think I’m the best person for the job, this is better for democracy after all, but being uncontested doesn’t give people much choice does it? I wouldn’t want people to feel like I’ve just walked into the job if I win. I do think what we’ve seen this year with so many positions uncontested is due to the pandemic, so many students just don’t have that campus based student life experience that was there before COVID, so getting this in person engagement back up will be a priority for me next year to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”