In Focus
Feb 27, 2024

Connor Dempsey on “Sensing the Pulse” of the Students’ Union

Comms and Marketing candidate Connor Dempsey plans to use his prior experience in TCDSU positions to inform his campaign.

Molly WetschJunior Editor
Photo by Bridget McBruiser for The University Times

Final-year Politics and Economics (PPES) student Connor Dempsey is running for Communications (Comms) and Marketing Officer in the Trinity College Students’ Union (TCDSU) Sabbatical Elections. His campaign is grounded on the heels of a breadth of experience, most recently his tenure as TCDSU Engagement Officer as well as his former role of TCDSU Citizenship Officer.

Dempsey says his experience as Engagement Officer, a role he both proposed and created, has given him insight into the workings of the Union and an understanding of issues that the student body is facing. He describes the role as both an “ombudsman” and “reformer” of engagement issues.

“I’ve been through the wringer. [As Engagement Officer] I’ve sat in meetings time and time again explaining engagement issues,” Dempsey said. “But of course, the role of engaging the student body is still with the Comms and Marketing Officer. I’ve done a lot of the groundwork, and I’d like to go further and actually be able to implement it fully if I were to have the privilege of being elected.”


Dempsey says one of his primary priorities during his campaign is elevating the marketing responsibilities of the role to ensure students have access to necessities, especially in the wake of the recent separation from Domino’s, which was TCDSU’s largest partnership before the split.

“I think marketing should be a student service”, Dempsey said. “We should prioritise making essentials more affordable, like healthcare. Our current deal with Merrion Square Dental [is] genius. We should be doing much more.”

He also says that by centralising student deals on the Union’s website, students will be able to access partnerships when it makes sense to them “rather than at the whim of the weekly email.” This is supplemented by his pledge to modernise the SU website and “completely refresh” it to streamline student use.

As for ensuring TCDSU engages with mature students and postgraduates as well as traditional undergraduates, Dempsey says it’s important to maintain a dynamic and well-rounded approach to communications. He mentions that expanding to platforms like Facebook or Discord could function as easy methods of communicating with a previously unreached group of students, citing conversations with societies that have experimented on the platforms in the past and been successful.

“There’s no perfect way to interact with the student body”, Dempsey said. “We can go where people are. If students are mobilising and organising, it’s just a process of asking people where they are. I think the Union should be a platform for students to organise themselves… it’s about demonstrating that the Union isn’t distinct from that organising.”

Dempsey says that he’d like to continue several of the Union’s current strategies regarding the weekly email and social media communication while also experimenting with new methods of engagement. He posits the use of paper flyers and other physical postings around College to reach an audience that social media may not currently touch.

“What I’d like to work on is continuing the work [of current TCDSU Comms and Marketing Officer Aiesha Wong] to make the weekly email more legible”, Dempsey said. “But I also want to bring us more in person. I think we need to recognize that when you’re putting things on social media, it doesn’t always feel real because you can scroll and it disappears. Whereas if every lecture you go into, on the side of the door there’s a sign that says ‘here’s something your union’s doing,’ then that feels real, that feels concrete.”

One major point of Dempsey’s campaign is maintaining an in-person presence “outside the bubble” of House Six to other areas of College like the Hamilton and St. James’ Hospital. He proposes that, as Comms and Marketing Officer, he would work one day a week from alternative locations in order to engage with the student body and ensure that even those not physically on campus feel represented by the Union.

“We need to bring that energy and that physical presence of having someone work one day a week from [the Hamilton or St. James’]. I truly know that that will have an impact on how people perceive the Union,” Dempsey said. “If there are places that you can bring up your opinions that makes it feel real, that puts faces to it, then that lowers the barrier to engagement. Because then if you’re going to council for the first time, and you’ve only interacted with the Union through email and social media, you don’t know any faces, that’s scary for anyone”.

Regarding issues of transparency within the union and communication with students, Dempsey proposes stronger follow-up from the Union about issues and initiatives that take priority within the student body. He prioritises a clearer demonstration of results that are being achieved through the work of the Union and what that work looks like behind-the-scenes.

“I think we need to sew a thread through our communications… I believe that the obligation is with the Union to make the full case for why we’re doing what we’re doing”, Dempsey said. “There is a lot of thought behind-the-scenes. We just need to show that to people… Students should be able to see that when you go to Council, real people are having real impacts.” 

Dempsey advocates for the equality of President and Comms and Marketing Officer as “primary spokesperson” for the Union, claiming that open conversations within the Sabbatical Team would allow for clarity and further understanding when it comes to communicating issues with the student body.

“We are a united front, we have to make sure we’re putting up that united front”, Dempsey said. “We stand and advocate on behalf of students on serious issues. We should absolutely be having internal debate, but it’s about civil discourse and coming to constructive conclusions and consensus at the end of it.”

Dempsey’s campaign places an emphasis on the role of Comms and Marketing as a double-ended job with lots of “push and pull”, focusing on an equal spotlight needed for both responsibilities to maintain engagement. 

“Comms and marketing work really well together because you’re in connection with the student body and sensing the pulse”, Dempsey said. “You’re making the argument for what the Union should be, and you’re also doing what you can to respond to the needs that people are telling you about.” 

Sign Up to Our Weekly Newsletters

Get The University Times into your inbox twice a week.