The Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) could formally divest from Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) if a motion to be brought to a GSU EGM on Thursday is passed.
Currently, TCDSU represents all students in Trinity, whether undergraduate or postgraduate.
An email sent to postgraduates ahead of the EGM, seen by The University Times, includes a motion to divest from TCDSU, mandating that the GSU be the “sole representative body for the Graduate Students of Trinity”.
“This motion is brought forward on the understanding that those elected members of the Graduate Students Union are those who will be most effective in voicing the concerns of the Unions members”, it states.
“It is submitted that Undergraduate students who are members/officers of the Students Union are unable to properly advocate on the behalf of Postgraduate students as they lack the lived experience of Postgraduate students.”
“This view of representation is reflected within the College statutes in which it is stated that there is a right for students to representation by a Union, but not a specific Union.”
According to schedule eight of the TCDSU constitution, “the postgraduate students are also members of the SU, and may be represented by the SU in relation to issues which affect all students”. If an issue “that affects primarily postgraduate students” arises, “the GSU shall take action, representing the postgraduate students, with support from the SU if appropriate”.
Schedule eight also states: “If representation is to be made on an issue that affects undergraduate and postgraduate students equally, the SU shall take action, representing the student body as a whole, with support from the GSU if appropriate.”
It is unclear what this proposed motion could mean for student representation on College committees. At present, TCDSU appoints all student representatives on committees, apart from committees that call for postgraduate representatives. The GSU selects these representatives.
The GSU has had a tumultuous year: in December, its members blasted the “disorganized chaos” surrounding the election of part-time officers, the results of which were due to be announced at the union’s long-delayed AGM, and in November this newspaper reported that the union’s class representative elections allowed for voter fraud.
The AGM was initially supposed to take place on Monday, December 11th. However, in an email to postgraduate students at 12.23am the Sunday before, GSU President Gisèle Scanlon postponed the AGM, which the union is required to run before the end of the first full week of November according to its constitution.