Comment & Analysis
Dec 5, 2021

In the GSU, the Lack of Will to do Things Right Rears its Head Once Again

The union has postponed its AGM to ensure that all those who vote are eligible to do so.

By The Editorial Board

The Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) is back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. This week’s offence? Postponing its AGM to ensure all those who vote are actually registered postgraduates. Nearly two years into the pandemic, the GSU has apparently not figured out how to run a secure virtual election.

Relatively speaking, this is a rather minor infraction. The union has had a quiet few months as College’s Capitation Committee remains in stasis over its dealing with the drama of the past year. Perhaps, in a way, the union ought to be commended for taking this extra precaution. After all, one of the many problems with its now-infamous April EGM was that it emerged that non-GSU members voted on the night.

But after every other GSU transgression, it’s difficult not to be suspicious. The AGM is already late – though President Gisèle Scanlon curtly insisted to this newspaper that it wasn’t – and even before the meeting has been held, issues of constitutionality and due process have emerged – most notably the election of the union’s executive before the actual meeting, not at it.


This Editorial Board has extensively covered the apparent disregard for democracy – or, certainly, the lack of will to do things properly – within the GSU. Clearly, it’s not enough of an issue for most postgraduates, otherwise Scanlon and her Vice President Abhisweta Bhattacharjee wouldn’t have won second terms in their respective positions. But it’s still important that doing things the wrong way – be it in the name of malice or incompetence – shouldn’t become simply the done thing.

It’s hard not to see that scenario coming to be true, though. Scanlon’s attention will soon turn towards her campaign for the vacant Trinity seat in the Seanad, and she undoubtedly won’t want to focus on just how far the GSU has fallen over her three years in sabbatical office.

Moreover, the Postgraduate Workers’ Alliance – the union’s main critics last year – is focusing more on its national mission, and has all but ceased public opposition to the GSU’s democratic breaches.

If GSU members are satisfied with the way things are run, so be it. But it’s important to remember that this is not how things are supposed to be done, and the union could be so much more.