In Focus
Feb 22, 2024

Education Candidate Eoghan Gilroy Wants Communication, Clarity and “the Big E-Word” of Engagement

Speaking to The University Times, TCDSU Education Officer candidate Eoghan Gilroy wants to use his personal and professional experience to ensure that students have the tools to enjoy their Trinity experience.

Elly ChristopherJunior Editor
Photo by Bridget McBruiser for The University Times

“Engagement, communication”, are the key words in Eoghan Gilroy’s campaign for Education Officer.  He is a final year Law and Political Science student, as well as an access student, which set the scene for his first engagement with the union. In his second year, he ran for access officer, a role which he describes as “sparking his love for student politics”. After that, he moved to more education focused roles, and for the last two years served as the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) Faculty Convenor. Additionally, he served as the student representative for the Undergraduate Studies Committee during the last year. Through both positions, he saw firsthand how the university has let students down, which has in turn led him to run for Education Officer.

The first point in his manifesto highlights casework. As he describes it, the primary role of the Education Officer is to get back to students. There have been countless stories about students reaching out to the union with situations that have happened to them, and not getting a response back, or not getting a response in a timely manner. For students and members of the SU it has been difficult and oftentimes frustrating to get responses back.  Gilroy promises a one business day response time to emails, describing it as the  “bare minimum”. The role of Education Officer is large and incredibly busy, but that is why he is making communication and engagement the centre of his campaign. Casework “hasn’t been a priority in the past,” he explained, but “ setting a dedicated time to it will make it occur”. 

Altering Trinity’s attitude towards generative AI is another pillar of Gilroy’s campaign, as he describes the college’s current attitude as “incredibly detrimental to students”. Increasingly, it has become clear that AI will be the next big thing affecting education in technology. However, for the last two years, students have been penalised for using generative AI, but there is no real school policy governing its use. Gilroy plans to work with the college to see what more can be done in pushing the school to develop policies that are more forward-thinking. “AI is an incredibly biassed system”, he explained, and over the last few years lecturers talk about how AI is plagiarism, but they do not consider the other issues or benefits of it. It’s not a black and white issue, and Gilroy states that the college’s efforts need to be about teaching students how to detect issues with it, as well as how to use it properly. 


The next point in his manifesto is “the big E-word”, engagement. It has been an issue within the union year in and year out. “It seems that the union’s response to [the issue of engagement] has always been, ‘oh, we’ll send out a survey and hope they get back to us’”, Gilroy describes, but this is not enough. Furthermore, although the Engagement Officer has been established, which is a step in the right direction, this push needs to be continued. Previous Education Officers that Gilroy has talked to have described the most meaningful part of the job as going out to Trinity’s different campuses and simply talking to students. Gilroy believes that this needs to be done more. “It is important to give students agency in the way their own union is run”, he explains. This, combined with increased career talks and different debates on college policies organised by the SU will get students in the door and get them engaged. 

Communication is also important to improve the accountability of the Union. “Oftentimes”, Gilroy explains, “sabbats are elected and they disappear for a year and you do not hear much about the work they are doing”. Last year he put forward a motion to call for every member of Union Forum to submit a report to council to highlight the work they were doing. He would continue to push for this, as it holds everyone accountable, especially sabbatical officers, and it also encourages more questions to be asked to the officials. “It’s about getting out of House 6 and getting out of that bubble”, he emphasised. With transparency, there becomes the opportunity for  better engagement. 

Another point on his manifesto involves class representatives. There has been difficulty in ensuring that each faculty is adequately represented. As AHSS Convenor, he has seen this firsthand. Largely this comes from difficulty in securing class representatives, and in poor training of these representatives. Students aren’t running in part because they don’t know about it. Freshers’ Fair is one of the only opportunities the Union has to reach out on a large scale, and because of that first year representation is relatively good, but there is a struggle to get participation from upper year students. For those representatives that do run and get elected, the training is disastrous. Gilroy proposes returning to the way training used to be: occurring off campus, paid for, and resulting in students receiving the training to provide the support required of them. 

To continue work on the Trinity Inclusive Curriculum project, Gilroy plans to meet with them on a constant basis to hear about their plans and what the Education Officer can do to best support them. “It’s an incredibly important part of Trinity and Trinity education”, he emphasised, and “has been massively helpful for Trinity and for students”. 

In addition, to support students with disabilities, Gilroy states that “it’s about ensuring that supports that are meant to be there to support students actually work”. Alternative methods of lessons are often hard to get, and blackboard is meant to be used to adapt to hidden disabilities, but often this slips through the cracks. To respond to this, Gilroy plans to meet with the  Disability representatives to ensure that all issues are heard. Oftentimes, students do not want to bother professors to get the resources they need, and in fact are already supposed to have. In addition, House Six is still not an accessible place, and as Education Officer Gilroy would support the President in their efforts to make it more accessible. It is incredibly important to make the Union accessible to all students. Tying it back to engagement, Gilroy believes that to be truly engaged, the Union needs to invite all students to council, and currently, all students can’t go. He would move Council out of the Stanley Quek, and to a more accessible venue, such as the Edmund Burke. 

To him, it would mean a great deal to be elected Education Officer and be granted the opportunity for students to put their trust in what he’s been saying. “I would be honoured to be afforded this opportunity,” he stressed, “especially coming from the background that I come from, to be afforded this by my peers”. Campaigns will begin this week.

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