Oct 3, 2023

TCDSU Sabbatical Officers Report on Progress and Manifesto Promises

TCDSU’s five sabbatical officers will present updates on their progress in fulfilling their mandates and manifesto promises at the first council meeting of the year this evening.

Clara RocheEditor
Photo by Alex Connolly

Ahead of the first council this evening, the five Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) sabbatical officers have submitted reports outlining the progress they have made in fulfilling their mandates and their manifesto promises.

At the first council meeting of the year, President László Molnárfi, Education Officer Catherine Arnold, Welfare Officer Aoife Bennett, Comms and Marketing Officer Aiesha Wong and Ents Officer Olivia Orr will each present updates and highlights from their time in office to date.

László Molnárfi 


Of 41 total manifesto promises, Molnárfi categorised 15 items as “completed”, 19 as “in progress” and six as “not started yet”, while granting supervision of one to TCDSU Education Officer Catherine Arnold.

Catherine Arnold, Education Officer 

Arnold first noted her and the Electoral Commission’s organisation of class representative elections. She reported “engagement and voter turnout has increased massively from the year prior”, which she said will be corroborated in a report from the Electoral Commission. 

She then said that Health Science students are “woefully under supported” in Trinity, and as a result she reported negotiating to hold office hours in St James’s Hospital. 

Arnold wants to make academic integrity “cool again” by demystifying it. 

She has not yet fulfilled her mandate of campaigning for systemised rubrics and marking to be made available to students, nor has she lobbied for “convenor training” which she said has been delayed due to a “communication issue”. She has yet to lobby for the introduction of a College policy which would ban credit-bearing unpaid internships, and she has not begun her campaign for College to cease outsourcing of IT services.

However, she reported having lobbied for non-traditional forms of assessment such as take-home exams and open-book exams, and for the earlier publication of timetables. She has reportedly brought both campaigns to the Continuation of Learning and Student Activities Group (COLSAG). 

She has not yet completed any of the proposals outlined in her manifesto. However, she has reportedly begun working towards the decolonisation of the curriculum as part of the Trinity Inclusive Curriculum project, and she is also exploring the feasibility of running staff seminars on LENS reports in the coming weeks. Moreover, she has submitted a motion to revive the Constitutional Review Working Group to fulfil her promise of reforming the Union’s constitution.

Arnold referred to this year as a “disproportionately difficult” one for casework, something she says is “reflected in the reports from TCD”. She claimed to have received 100 cases a day at certain points. She added that the Electoral Commision, the Oversight Commission and the Union Forum have all received training to deal with burnout. 

She also admitted to losing her voice as a result of her involvement in the Book of Kells blockade. 

Aoife Bennett, Welfare Officer 

Welfare Officer Aoife Bennett celebrated the  onreturn of in-person consent workshops to Trinity Hall for the first time since the pandemic, and worked closely with Together Consent to organise other consent talks on campus for undergraduates and postgraduates. The three workshops had a cumulative attendance of nearly 1000 students. 

She also drew attention to the new website for the Accommodation Advisory Service, which she called a “slay” on behalf of her predecessor Chloe Staunton. Like her colleagues, she noted her involvement in the digs drive and the Book of Kells blockade. 

She has arranged STI testing in both the Arts Block and the off-campus St James’s Hospital, organised an additional consent talk and brought back the annual sex toy bingo for the ongoing Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) Week, on which she welcomes feedback.

She has succeeded in her manifesto commitments to organising queer sex education workshops and publicising at-home STI testing kits. She is in the progress of expanding the free period products initiative, reforming the Union’s dignity and respect policy and organising diversity training for societies with the Central Societies Committee (CSC). She is lobbying for the reopening of Cunningham House at Trinity Hall for more affordable student accommodation with family unit options, and the introduction of sensory spaces and a Union presence in St James’s. 

Aiesha Wong, Comms and Marketing Officer

Comms and Marketing Officer Aiesha Wong first highlighted the €4500 revenue she earned the Union during Freshers’ Week, having arranged activities with sponsors every day at the Pav Marquee. She also spotlighted her renewed sponsorships with Dominos and KC Peaches, and her new academic partnership with Capital Credit Union worth €2000. 

She focused on the media coverage received by recent TCDSU initiatives such as the digs drive campaign and the Book of Kells blockade. 

Towards the fulfilment of her mandates, Wong noted that she has referred to House 6 as “Teach Mandela” or “Teach a Sé” in all official communications, and has worked with the Irish Language Part-Time Officer (PTO) to update incorrectly translated terms in Union documents.

She said that she has taken an online training course to further her aim of formulating a GDPR policy for the Union, and disclosed that she has not yet begun to circulate information on harm reduction for transgender students seeking self-administered healthcare. 

She has yet to create a Union-specific events calendar or organise her suggested “upskilling” workshops such as graphic design tutorials or barista training. 

Olivia Orr, Ents Officer

Ents Officer Olivia Orr logged an additional 107.5 hours beyond those she is contracted to work. 

Commenting on the fulfilment of her mandates, Orr noted that she has successfully secured gender neutral toilets at the various venues Trinity Ents have hosted events. She said that she is in the process of aiding the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) in developing an anti-spiking policy. 

She has fulfilled her manifesto promise of appointing a Welfare Officer and an Accessibility Officer to the Ents Committee, following the passing of a motion to allow for the expansion of the committee at the last council of last year. 

She has also implemented her proposed suggestion form for feedback and suggestions on Ents events. She also highlighted her work to secure the Buttery as a venue for daytime events, as well as her distribution of information about the safety and accessibility of venues before each event. 

She said that she was in discussions with the Global Room to organise more cultural Ents events. Another work in progress was the development of a reporting system, towards which she is working with other SU officers “to find a safe and secure way to create this”. She is also currently working with Welfare Officer Aoife Bennett and the USI to develop a drug policy. 

In her report, Orr made no mention of her intention to keep Trinity Ball on campus, a move she named as her “top priority” in her manifesto. 

The first council of the year will take place at 6.30pm in the Stanley Quek Lecture Theatre in TBSI.

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