Interviewed by Sorcha O’Connor
Why are you running for election?
I’m running for election because I want to help. I want to reclaim the Student’s Union for students essentially; I think it’s gotten distracted from its purpose over the past few years. That’s not a reflection on the people in it, they’re doing a great job, but it’s simply that I want to change the discussion around the Students’ Union. I want to play my part as best I can.
What are the key skills/personality traits that an SU President should have?
That’s quite a question! An ability to step back and represent people based on the mandate you’re given, step back no matter what your personal opinions are and do what the students want, because that’s essentially your job, to separate the personal from the professional.
As well, to be able to manage the team, to be able to facilitate all the other people on the executive and to be savvy with the finances. You’re going to be dealing with a lot of that, a lot of committees, a lot of people and meeting people one on one. So, I think you need a passion for people and an ability to be reasonable and number and figures and everything.
Describe what you think being SU President is about.
It’s about representation, it’s about managing the team, it’s about you standing up for students and never giving up. It’s about making sure that even if it’s hard, even if you want to get on with everyone in the university, be it with the authorities or whoever, that you stand up for what students want and keep fighting for it and that you motivate people to get out. Because the most important thing about the Student’s Union is having numbers behind it, having people voting, having people turn out so that you can go up to the University President and say that “these people are behind me, I stand for these people” and get the job done.
Outline your main objectives if elected.
Okay so my main objectives, I have three: First of all, to stop spending money from the SU, stop spending our money, because we all put money into it, stop spending our money on national political issues and prioritise standing up against University authorities when we need to, and working with them to make sure that issues that matter are dealt with and that things change.
Secondly, to stop the wasteful spending of money. I mean that by stopping spending our money on alcohol for class reps, on networking events that aren’t necessary and on awareness campaigns that aren’t reaching students. The Students’ Union needs to get outside of Arás Na MacLeinn and get into the actual Engineering building, the Moyola, go out there and talk to people and make them aware in a way that isn’t happening now. That’s what I want to change.
And thirdly, to fight forcefully, like I said, to make sure that you never give up and that includes issues like demanding a repeal of the repeat fee hike that happened last year, with very little action to change it. To try and get exams to be anonymised, it’s something that a lot of students have asked me to do. To get free buses to exam centres off campus. To improve and demand the investment in educational and health-care facilities on campus. And if we’re going to be handing out free condoms, we need to be handing out free tampons as much as possible as well, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t.
As well, respect for the Irish language is something I care very passionately about and I think it’s something we as a Students’ Union need to stand up for. And, reducing the cost of living for students because it’s something that everyone deals with especially people who are coming here who aren’t from Galway who need help. That’s what I want to change and I want to be here for them.
What are the key points of your manifesto?
I’ll keep it simple. My manifesto is about cutting funding for national campaigns and prioritising on-campus campaigns, cutting wasteful spending on things like alcohol, junket networking trips and awareness campaigns that aren’t working and replacing them with things that actually improve turnout and motivation and finally, bringing in things that students have been demanding for years, for example ending the repeat fee hike that came in a few years ago, anonymising exams, free buses to exam centres, educational and healthcare investment, especially in the student health centre, free tampons, it’s just plain and simple. And, absolute respect for the Irish language; the Students’ Union should be doing it as much as any University President, and as President I will speak in Irish to whoever is elected.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yeah, I just want to add, no matter who you’re going to vote for, turn out. Because even if I don’t get the position – and I really would love the position to be able to do these things – no matter who gets the position, they need a mandate, they need as many of you as possible to be there behind them so that they can approach the University President, be it Jim Browne, be it whoever comes in next year, that is very important, so that they can say we have these people behind us, we are a voice for these people and we will, as one, fight against you if you do not help us, but we will happily work with you if you do. That’s very important, turn out to vote, no matter who you’re voting for.