The fifth Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) council failed to reach quorum this evening. The meeting was reconvened as a town hall and the discussion items on the council agenda took place as planned. The necessary number of people present to meet quorum for council is 120 members.
The town hall began with sabbatical officer reports and questions. In his report, TCDSU President Lászlo Molnárfi highlighted Domino’s removal of posts expressing support for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) following the Union’s decision to cut ties with the franchise, calling this “very, very good news” that “shows the power of boycott”.
Molnárfi also spoke of his plans to organise a rent strike on campus. Recounting difficulties he had encountered in mobilising tenants, he said that it is “much harder to organise a rent strike than it is in Manchester because the material conditions are different”, describing the access to campus accommodation in Trinity as an “elitist, luxury process”.
Welfare Officer Aoife Bennett described last week’s Rainbow Week, a celebration of LGBTQ+ life on campus, “an amazing week”, in her report.
In her report, Communications and Marketing Officer Aiesha Wong requested “photographic evidence of living conditions”, in any accommodation, student or otherwise. These experiences in housing and commuting will be used for a video campaign Wong is organising with Molnárfi.
Ents Officer Olivia Orr reaffirmed her achievement of keeping Trinity Ball on campus in her report. Orr further hinted that the lineup announcement can be expected at the end of February. Tickets are also expected to be released at the end of February, with the same ticketing system as last year.
Connor Dempsey, the Union’s Engagement Officer, brought forth the findings of the Engagement Working Group, designed to increase Union engagement. The group recommended a reduction in the number of elections and reforms to the structure of debates within council. He noted that “the current system does not promote constructive criticism”, and that “very difficult topics are hard to handle within 90-minute chunks.”
Connor Dempsey, the Union’s Engagement Officer, brought forward recommendations for the promotion of Union engagement. Citing his experience, Dempsey presented his concern that “I’ve been told by so many people that they come to first council and never come back”. For this waning engagement, Dempsey proposed a reduction in the number of elections and opposed contentious debates at council, noting that class reps do not have any input, citing that “it’s not why we elect class reps”. The Engagement Officer further noted that “the current system does not promote constructive criticism”, mentioning that “very difficult topics are hard to handle within 90-minute chunks”.
Motions brought forth to council could not be voted upon and instead were discussed.
The first planned motion, proposed by Molnárfi, sought to affirm support for Professional Masters in Education (PME) student, who according to Molnárfi the Union has so far “ignored”, and to mandate the Union to support the Association of Secondary School Teachers Ireland (ASTI) campaign on secondary school teacher pay.
The second motion was to support the creation of a bursary for student parents, which would distribute €20,000 from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) fund over a five-year period. The second motion was also proposed by Molnárfi. The Student Parent Officer described this as a “small step” on a campus where “there’s nothing for childcare”.
The third motion, if passed, would cement the Union’s opposition to the government’s Green Paper on Disability Reform, which seeks to introduce a tiered system to categorise disability. The Union’s opposition has been formed on the basis that the proposed reforms would breach the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This motion was also proposed by Molnárfi. Keely Jenkinson, the Officer for Students with Disabilities, compared the proposed reforms to Conservative Party equivalents in the UK enforced under austerity, which “caused horrific things for people with disabilities”.
The fourth motion, proposed by Molnárfi, supports the creation of a Student Sport Bursary, and the fifth and final motion, proposed by Engagement Officer Connor Dempsey would amend the requirements of his position to require its holder to produce two reports over the course of an academic year, rather than one per semester.
Chair of Council and the Electoral Commission, Conor Casey, announced that the proposed referendum that sought to amend Chapter 1.4 of the TCDSU constitution would no longer be going ahead due to a “legal liability” if it were to pass.
The amendment to Chapter 1.4 sought to replace ‘the Union shall pursue these objectives independent of any political, racial or religious ideology’ with ‘the Union shall pursue these objectives in a radical, egalitarian and autonomous way, and shall not affiliate with far-right groups, including, but not limited to, white supremacists and Christian extremists.
Following a complaint that suggested such proposed wording would be incompatible with statutory anti-discrimination legislation, the EC sought legal advice and revealed its suggestions that the proposed wording is potentially discriminatory towards Christians and that it created a “potentially derogatory” association between Christianity and far-right and white supremacy.