In Focus
Feb 22, 2024

Education Officer Candidate Sé Ó hEidhin Will “Burn the Entire Union Down” in Order to Fix It

TCDSU Education Officer candidate Sé Ó hEidhin emphasises transparency, restructuring and inclusivity and advocates for bold changes to address the Union's systemic challenges.

Amélie McGowanJunior Editor
Photo by Bridget McBruiser for The University Times

“It’s a really tough, thankless role”, Sé Ó hEidhin, candidate for the Education Officer position in Trinity’s Student Union declared. “I truly believe that the role of the education officer is to be the serious grounding point of the Union.” 

Ó hEidhin, who has been active on campus for years, including time as Ethnic Minorities Officer, Treasurer of QSoc, Secretary of LitSoc, and most recently Deputy STEM Convenor and Chair of Diversity in STEM, is running in the 2024/25 elections.

Ó hEidhin has a plethora of ideas when it comes to the role as Education Officer, but they emphasise the need for Student Union transparency, and grounding the Union in reality. “As Education Officer, I want to get us back to Earth,” Ó hEidhin stated. Their eight-page manifesto details the need for the Union to ‘Touch Grass’; a method of tackling the opaqueness and difficult navigating system of the Students’ Union.


“The SU is the most opaque organisation”, Ó Heidhin continues, “and our whole job is to make Trinity easier to navigate and we’re impossible to navigate ourselves. It’s nonsense”. Each year, according to Ó hEidhin, the Students’ Union attempts to increase engagement with the student body, but fails. “All of these metrics fail to address the core issues”, Ó Heidhin writes in their manifesto.

 It isn’t a matter of failure on behalf of the students, in fact, “I think every goal that the SU has strived to accomplish this year has been amazing. I totally agree,” however, Ó hEidhin has one issue: “Method-wise I have some disagreements.”

For Ó hEidhin, form is function when it comes to organisations. The students aren’t failing the system, the system is failing the students. Which is why Ó Heidhin’s first manifesto point is for a ‘Total SU Restructure’, involving bringing in an academic senate, a welfare senate, and a legislature. Additionally, creating three faculty assemblies with the ability to pass their own legislation. 

“I think that the reason why stuff doesn’t work is because it’s not set up in a way that allows it to work”, Ó Heidhin adds. “Why are reps not allowed to do things? The answer is: we don’t train them well enough. We don’t tell them how to de-escalate problems, so they end up with problems above their pay grade.”

Prepared to help students, Ó hEidhin suggests adding to the TDCSU Instagram page, outlining the role of each member, where to find help, and who to ask. Additionally, Ó hEidhin proposed an AI-chatbot. “I don’t think we use AI enough”, Ó hEidhin says. Accessible online services prevent students from going to the wrong person for their problems, according to Ó hEidhin. 

When it comes to inclusivity, Ó hEidhin is on board. ‘Bare Necessities’ are next on the manifesto. That involves getting lecture recordings in, integrating the postgraduate community, implementing Irish more aggressively, working with the new Irish language officer, even getting an SU archivist.

While the Trinity Inclusive Curriculum is part of this next step, Ó hEdhin is “already looking towards the next thing”. Changing the curriculum is “a long road”, according to Ó hEidhin. “We need to have as many as possible changes to courses to make their courses more inclusive”, adds Ó hEidhin, but as someone interested in restructuring, “challenging the actual framework and basis of what we’re being taught in college” is the longer, yet more effective route.

When asked about disability inclusion, “I want to engage with disability advocacy at all levels, all the time. I’m a student with disabilities myself”, Ó Heidhin states. In-house assessments and a focus on getting students who are not diagnosed, diagnosed, is a priority. “We have an amazing disability community in Trinity. I want more resources put into diagnosis.”

For Erasmus students, Ó hEidhin is determined to keep open Zoom office hours to reach the Welfare, President, or Education officer with the click of the ‘join’ button. Creating a list of universities Trinity sends students to that have adequate disability support, is the “open access to information”, Ó hEidhin states, to “fix Erasmus. Make it so it’s an ideal scenario. Every time.”

Representation is not a matter of equality, but equity. What Ó hEidhin proposes is a multi-faculty approach. “You’re never going to have the same amount of reps for each”, Ó hEidhin says, “Acknowledge the differences, then come back to ‘every Trinity student is valid.’” 

On top of representative engagement, Ó hEidhin is intent on paper voting to increase voter turnout. “I am pro-paper voting,” Ó hEidhin asserts. Electronic voting, while more convenient, brings down the number of people who vote. 

Ó hEidhin finishes the manifesto with their last point; making Education Officer a campaign role. For the Education Officer to become political, Ó hEidhin must not only focus on handling barriers to education, but define the role itself. Barriers such as rent, cost of living, and commuting all require the Education Officer to get involved in government – lobbying for fairer accommodation and cost of living. 

“Every time a political problem is applied to college, students suffer”, Ó hEidhin says. The two are not separate; when politics gets involved, education does too. 

Ó hEidhin notes a key difference from this year; making the Education Officer front-facing. “Education is the easiest role for you to become just a figurehead”, Ó hEidhin notes. Rather than remain behind the scenes, Ó Heidhin proposes staying halfway between background and foreground work.

Ó hEidhin wants their work to be publicly accessible to improve the relationship between Officer and student, and prevent students from failing purely because of the SU’s difficult navigation.

“I really believe that every student, when they’re in their hardest time, just needs a helping hand”, Ó hEidhin says. “We allow too many students to fall through the cracks and end up drowning.”

When it comes to integrating the Irish language community, “I would be advocating for Irish at every step of the way. In every meeting I’m in I would be advocating for the Irish. Every time.” Additionally for Ó hEidhin, including the Irish ethnic minorities at Trinity into the Irish language efforts is a pivotal point.

Power reveals, Ó hEidhin explains. “I think my manifesto is a great example of what someone who cares about the Union and is very concerned with structures, would do if you gave them the power to change everything; they would burn the entire Union down in order to fix the Union.

Ó hEidhin was initially going to make a palatable manifesto, but stopped. “I don’t want to be that person”, they say, “I want to be the person that’s like ‘abolish council’”.

For them, being an Education Officer is, at the end of the day, “a job.” “I have the institutional knowledge and the backing to change things, but if the year doesn’t go well and I don’t accomplish anything, I’m a scientist. This isn’t my career.” 

This can be used to Their advantage, however, as the disconnect allows for bolder, more undaunted decisions. “I don’t care what bridges I burn with staff,” Ó hEidhin concludes, “I’m not going to be shaking hands and kissing babies. I’m going to tell them exactly what needs to change.”

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