Last year saw an eclectic mix of candidates run for the position of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union’s (TCDSU) ents officer. Three candidates with competing visions – including one candidate who gained fame for his rapping prowess – battled it out for the role of the union’s chief party planner – among a slew of other responsibilities.
This year sees the race return to an uncontested state for the first time in four years, with Hugh McInerney, a final-year history student, running unopposed for the role. McInerney, formerly the chair of Trinity’s Film Society and the moustachioed face behind comedy Facebook page Trinity Truths, has no competitor in the race, but also no shortage of enthusiasm for the position he hopes will be his come the end of February.
He says running a society teaches you a “lot of universal skills that really help you when managing events”, and points to a trip to Berlin he organised with the Film Society that was the society’s biggest in five years. He calls it the biggest highlight of his time with the society. In his current role as the club’s exhibitions officer, he is required to facilitate large networking events that allow students to foster connections with professionals in the field.
McInerney believes it is important to be organised and business-minded to run for ents officer, and he is confident that he has proven these skills in his running of a society with an active on-campus presence. However, he also thinks it is crucial to be a generally friendly and fun person. “I love having craic. I think part of entertainments is to be entertaining, and when I started my Trinity Truths web series last year, that really kind of made me realise there is a hunger on campus for good craic and stuff like that.”
McInerney has arguably gained recognition on campus off the back of his comedic web series, which he started in the wake of the Knights of the Campanile scandal – the “best thing ever to happen for my clicks”. He saw it as an opportunity to apply his film experience to an exercise in satire. McInerney points to the fact that the video now has almost 10,000 views as evidence that he knows what kind of entertainment Trinity students are looking for.
This supposed intuition for entertainment certainly makes McInerney a suitable candidate for ents officer. However, the candidate also appears to have expansive plans to make inclusivity and accessibility central to the role, if elected. It is McInerney’s goal to hold more alcohol-free events as ents officer, and he outlines plans for a so-called Sober October. The event would stretch across two weeks, during which McInerney intends events such as movie screenings with DU Film Society and a sumo suit event in Front Square. Essentially, McInerney says, he is eager to host “events that show you don’t need to have alcohol to have a good time”.
He also plans to push for alcohol-free club nights through partnerships with alcohol-free beer brands. McInerney says that he himself has “been on one or two” of these nights and claims, almost surprisedly, that they are “actually a lot of fun”. While some contend that they sound “like a disastrous idea”, McInerney defends it on the basis that “when you check the wallet the next morning, it’s a lot fuller than you’d think it would be.”
McInerney’s push for more non-alcoholic activities seems to carry on from recent ents officers’ focus on more accessible events. This is further evidenced by the fact that the candidate wants to have “many, if not all events in accessible locations, because it’s ridiculous having events people can’t go to”. He also condemns the location of society rooms in House Six, and expresses frustration at the lack of access many individuals have to the building’s facilities as a result. But given the inflexibility of Trinity’s centuries-old campus, it’s not clear that this issue is one with an easy solution.
Building on a theme that candidates running for any position in the TCDSU elections will mention, McInerney states his intent to run an inclusive and engaging campaign. “I want to involve as many people as possible, get as many diverse voices from around campus.”
McInerney is aware of the huge commitment that a sabbatical position entails, but insists that he is prepared to take on the position. Despite being aware of the organisational and monetary skills necessary to schedule successful events, McInerney insists that the more important quality in any ents officer is to “be a bit of craic. Be approachable. Have some fun”.
Trinity Ball is the event that defines the legacy of an ents officer, so it will be worth paying attention as McInerney lays out his plans for an event that many have complained has failed to attract impressive headline acts in recent years. Previous ents officers have argued that sourcing top-tier acts simply isn’t realistic anymore, but it’s not a line that typically goes down well with students.
Given McInerney’s lack of competition, however, there’s arguably less pressure on him to make big headline promises around the ball. Last year, with three very different candidates vying for voters attention, there was arguably more pressure to conjure up unique ideas for events as a point of differentiation between the competitors. Without anyone to compete against, McInerney can get by without promising overly ambitious events.
What’s clear, though, is that the ents officer is responsible for more than just being the “fun” sabbatical officer. They need to sate a campus community eager for events, and make sure they’re doing so in a way that’s profitable. McInerney’s pitch, then, will have to be carefully choreographed if he’s to make sure students take him seriously.