While many members of this University fail to heed much interest in the various aspects of the everyday running of the Students Union, a number of politicos more commonly known as Class Reps take it upon themselves to meet every month for free tea, coffee and sambos and discuss, debate and vote on issues that concern Maynooth students. This months meeting took place the Tuesday before break and from what this Observer has heard, it was a rather explosive one.
The meeting had already taken a rough start with the failure of the Exec to provide the promised lunch, which I am sure many of the reps only bother to show up for. Some may say there is no such thing as a free lunch, but when the lunch fails to manifest itself, hungry bellies were in no mood to sit through the rigmaroles of the meetings formalities and a report on apparently how great “the Gathering” was.
While the usual aspects of the Council meeting went without incident, The minutes, The Presidents report etc, it was an agenda item proposing that NUIM S.U sign the Cairo Declaration that ensued what spectators say was a vicious and nasty debate. Now as I am sure what many of you are thinking now, as did I when I heard the name “Cairo declaration” , the phrase “what the fuck is the Cairo declaration” comes to mind. I had to Googleize it myself and it is basically a declaration in support of the people of Gaza who find themselves suppressed by the Israeli government on a daily basis. I will leave it up to you readers to investigate as a full explanation of its contents would take too long.
The reason the Cairo Declaration made its way to the floor was that the proposer wanted our S.U to add its name on behalf of its members in support of what is a humanitarian effort to end apartheid in Gaza. A fairly straight forward answer you may think, I certainly did. I was wrong and horrified to hear that people were opposed to signing it on that grounds that we as a union were being too political? Excuse me, It’s a Union.... A UNION!!!!! If its a T.Y project you want to be a member of, go organize a food drive or something.
The argument that was being spouted against the motion was that of a constitutional one and NUIM were not allowed to take part or support such political motions. This Observer took it upon himself to check this out and as expected found this argument to be RI-FUCKING-DICULOUS!!!!! The article in which this argument was based on was that of Article 16 which says in 16.2 that “The Union may not affiliate to any political party” followed by “The Union may not affiliate to any national organization that goes against its aims and objectives”. Now where does signing a humanitarian declaration against apartheid mean becoming part of a political party?
A further argument put forward was that it may offend Jewish students and interfering with their rights. I searched the names of people who have signed online and one of the first I saw was in fact a Holocaust survivor! Hmmmmm she seemed really offended. The statement made by our Welfare Officer was a pathetic one and when you think about it rather misconceived as yes there may be Jewish students at NUIM but does that make them Israeli? It’s like saying, I’m Catholic so i am offended by people criticizing Italy because Catholics live there too! Would Muslim students be offended by us not signing it?
This argument went unresolved, and while it did pass for the Union to sign it, it has been sent to the Guardianship to see if it can be ratified or not. It does however bring a bigger question to the fore which has gone neglected by the Exec and Council. How political should the Union be? Well I say very. Student Movements have been a the vanguard of political and most importantly humanitarian movements for centuries so why should NUIM remain out in the cold? Would we have neglected to show our support against the Apartheid regime in South Africa or civil rights movements in both America and closer to home in Northern Ireland?
This argument used by Fianna Fail members of Union Council and members who want an easy ride in life that Union Council can’t make decisions should cease immediately and grow themselves a pair of balls. The failure to show support for striking staff earlier last term goes against our own aims and objectives highlighted in the often misquoted Constitution. Article 2.3 “to keep students informed of developments within the Union and the University, and of national issues of student interest”. Would this not be in our interest to keep those that teach us provided with the necessary equipment and working conditions? Not supporting the strike was saying, “Yes we’ll have an inferior education please”.
If we are going to be taken seriously as a social group of this country who are against cut backs and not just a bunch of time wasting free loaders, we need to be willing to stand up and be counted, not just on national issues but on ones of a wider humanitarian one. Bring back the spirit of ’68, where the student voice was a loud, proud and vocal one, not like the timid squeak of today which is being trampled on by those who call us “young people”.
If you wish to read more on or sign the Cairo Declaration visit:
Likewise, if you wish to view our Constitution follow the link at the bottom of this page:
Your debate, reaction and correspondence is always welcome and encouraged at: