In the space of less than two years, Dublin University Central Athletic Club (DUCAC) has changed inexorably.
In 2019, Jemil Saidi became the first student to be elected chair of DUCAC, backed by smaller clubs and those who had felt excluded from the organisation that holds the purse strings of clubs in Trinity.
Now – after a number of amendments were passed at an EGM last week – only students can hold that position, and terms will be restricted to a year.
This is momentous for two reasons. Firstly, it has wrested the senior ranks of DUCAC away from past students – the old guard have been well and truly frozen out and a new era of DUCAC, with students at the helm, has been ushered in.
Secondly, it has brought DUCAC in line with other capitated bodies like the Central Societies Committee and Trinity Publications, and made impossible a situation where an old-school alumni can head up a student organisation for years.
Sports clubs are – primarily – for present students, as are College publications and societies, so it makes sense that they be student-led. Ending a century-long tradition of people who don’t even play sports in College anymore makes sense.
Perhaps more importantly, however, is the shift to online elections. Established clubs packing AGMs to get their favoured candidate elected is a problem that has plagued DUCAC for years.
Online elections may help solve this, while also making voting easier for students with disabilities or students who have training or are too busy to attend an AGM. However, it could also allow bigger clubs to have far more influence over an election if they are able to co-ordinate and vote as a bloc for a preferred candidate, while ignoring their credentials.
A “one club, one vote” has long been on the table, and some variation of this may still be necessary if the new online election system proves problematic.
Regardless it has been a momentous week for DUCAC. It has changed forever as an organisation – and, with it, sport in Trinity. The changes must be closely monitored and improved, if necessary.