For the first time since 1994, a UCD student has won the top seat of USI when the university's S.U President Gary Redmond beat current Equality Officer Linda Kelly by a margin of three votes (109-107) at this years USI National Congress, held in Galway last month. While NUI Maynooth were unable to cast votes, a delegation including members of this years and next years Exec were present and in this Observers opinion, may provide a valuable new voice when they obtain voting rights in the next college year.
Redmonds election may provide a shake up in the USI of late and stoke old fears of an overly UCD influenced USI which has the most populous campus, boasting over 20,000 students. On the other hand, the inclusion of NUIM next year may provide a substantial swing vote with between 12 and 15 delegates being able to vote for the 7,000 students it represents.
During the referendum campaign, the few who canvassed against a YES vote warned of a UCD influenced USI, their scaremongering, while irrelevant at the time, may become a possibility. But how influential can one campus be in a union which includes almost every college and university in the country? While those Universities still outside USI may see Redmonds election as a deterrent to joining, would their inclusion, along with our own, not act as a further dilutent to the voting block of UCD?
While Redmonds leadership may bring USI away from the close links it currently has with Trade Unions and issues that don't overly concern Irelands students, the inclusion of the likes of DCU and UL (before the end of this term to have full voting rights), would further democracise USI and make the step towards reforming the organisiation to continue the strides it has made for student welfare in Ireland over the last fifty years.
For the other posts, Trinity's SU President Cónán O'Bróin was elected Deputy-President, while UCC SU's Welfare Officer Rebecca Murphy was elected to the national equivalent post. In the elections for LGBT ad Welfare Officer, R.O.N won against all candidates.
Your thoughts on these elections and the possible new direction of USI are more than welcome.
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