Apr 16, 2024

New Mandate Passed for Incoming Sabbatical Officers to Review Union’s Political Status

In a final attempt to heal the ‘division’ seen within the Students’ Union this year, Molnárfi has succeeded in ensuring that the incoming sabbatical team for the TCDSU address what has been a consistent, but failed, feature of his tenure.

Alex PayneAssistant Editor
Emer Moreau for The University Times

Passing by a strong majority, the motion to review Section 1.4 of the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) constitution, which currently states that the Union must pursue its aims “independent of any political ideology”, marks an end to a year fraught with constitutional disagreements.

The motion, Molnárfi’s final bid to allow the student body to vote on the Union’s political status, recognised “the varying attitudes of the student body towards the question of whether the student union should be allowed to criticise political ideologies as well as able to take an explicit no-confidence stance in the government”.

The motion expressed concern “at the division this has resulted in, with opposing sides resorting to measures which have generated controversy, including constitutional breaches, walkouts and impeachment referendums being launched.”


It also noted “the need for civil discourse on the issues that matter to students”, namely those that “may be divisive”. 

The motion mandates: “That the incoming Sabbatical Officer Board work, with relevant consultation, to bring a motion to Council containing a proposal which may be put to referendum on Chapter 1.4 no later than the end of Michaelmas Term. This wording should allow the Union to criticise political ideologies and political parties, but will have the necessary safeguards in place to prevent abuse of power.” 

It concluded: “Safeguards should include having to put any possible no confidence motions in the government to a Long-Term Policy (LTP) referendum, and the Union should be prohibited from affiliating to political parties.”

As consistently reported by The University Times, Section 1.4 has dominated large portions of Council’s time this year, and has resulted in two failed attempts to give the student body the chance to vote on a constitutional wording change in relation to Section 1.4.

In a motion first proposed by Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Convenor, Niko Evans, the wording of Section 1.4 was suggested to change from stating the Union must pursue its aims “independent of any political ideology” to Union must pursue its aims in a “radical” fashion.

However, this motion failed to pass by a slim margin and so Evans organised a petition for Trinity students with the aim to reach 500 signatures and so trigger a student-wide referendum. The petition reached 500 signatures in the space of one week. However, the Electoral Commission subsequently ruled that the referendum would not be taking place due to “legal concerns” about “potential discrimination”.

Molnárfi, as he is reportedly alleged to have done all year according to a report by the Oversight Commission, continued to take actions in breach of Section 1.4. This resulted in two class representatives, Colin Harper, JF Psychology, and Seán Thim O’Leary, SF PPES, launching a petition to impeach the SU President.

The petition, which barely reached over 200 student signatures, read as follows: When the misconduct of the president was discussed, as is routine for matters such as this at council, a motion of censure was brought forward. Before this could be brought to a vote, the president and a group he had coordinated with staged a walkout of council in order to ensure that a vote could not be held on his misconduct.”

“This violates the democratic process of the Union, and disrupts basic means of accountability within the Union. Irrespective of what stance may be held over the motion of censure, this coordinated act was an inappropriate method of barring representatives from voicing the concerns of the students they represent.”

“The Student Union cannot hope to carry out its functions– nor represent its students– if its President  flagrantly and openly subverts oversight. The Student Union is a mechanism for furthering student voices, and such a disregard for acknowledging them threatens to undermine all the work that has been done by the Union in recent years.”

“This is a dangerous precedent to set within the Union; the President cannot be allowed to sidestep oversight for violating the Union’s Constitution.”

“There will be serious negative consequences for the wider student population if their voices are continuously and actively disregarded by those who are supposed to represent them. This petition for an Officer Impeachment Referendum is the final option left to those who want to hold the president to any level of accountability.”

“Even if you might vote not to impeach, we urge you to sign this petition so that this discussion can be brought to the wider student body, as we believe that it is of the utmost importance for students to be heard. This is our Union, and we will be left to pick up the pieces in years to come if this behaviour goes unchecked.”

Despite the petition to impeach not reaching the required signatures, and so not presenting a significant threat to Molnárfi’s presidentship, the SU President has still sought to repair the bridges that appear to have been severed between students this year as a result of the ‘division’ over Section 1.4.

In a statement to The University Times, Molnárfi, as a result of the recent motion passing, said: “The past few weeks have demonstrated mass student support for our grassroots, radical and political union.” 

“As a result of the conversations surrounding the walkout and the impeachment petition that failed, members of Council came to realise, and came to an agreement, that a referendum is needed to settle the question, and as such voted through at Council a motion that, if all goes well, will see the ‘apolitical’ stance in the constitution put to referendum in Hilary Term of 2025.” 

He concluded: “All of this has only strengthened the radical tendency within the TCDSU, and has furthered our cause. In light of this, our movement is stronger than ever. Thank you to the student body for your expression of confidence in our union!”

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