USI selection of Fianna Fáil speakers causes controversy.

The Union of Students of Ireland has attracted ire after it’s selection of three Fianna Fáil linked speakers for this years Students’ Union Training in Athlone.

The selection of Higher Education Authority (HEA) chief Tom Boland, former presidential Continue reading

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USI special congress report

Tyler McNally gives us a report and some snaps from last weeks special congress on the funding of 3rd level education. 

Last week, over 180 delegates from Students’ Unions all over Ireland attended the Union of Students in Ireland’s (USI) Special Congress, called during it’s last national conference to decide the USI’s position on how Third Level education should be funded, which was held in UCDSU.

In the run up to this Special Congress, a preferendum was held online at www.usivote.com on which, USI members could vote for whatever option out of the five available they believed to be the right one, then provided the turnout was quorate these results would give individual SUs a mandate on how delegations vote. Continue reading

Further Furore Surrounding USI Funding ‘Preferendum’

The number of issues plaguing the USI Preferendum seems to be multiplying by the hour. Rumours appeared over the weekend, claiming that senior members of USI, Gary Redmond and his successor John Logue had met with members of TCD exec in an effort to campaign for a Graduate Tax. Redmond, in communication with the Observer denied this, stating;

‘ … to confirm I have not met with the TCD SU executive or anyone else in relation to organising a campaign for any option on the preferendum.’

Today has seen a number of issues with the site itself (covered here by Dave). The problems facing the preferendum include, past students being able to vote and others apparently able to log in as administrators on http://usivote.com. This has been further compounded with Trinity College Dublin having technical difficulties with the login this morning and rumours of DIT scrapping the vote altogether as a response the worrisome lack of integrity of the system. DIT SU president Ciarán Nevin when contacted by the Student Observer stated that,

‘We’re giving USI until the end of today to sort out all issues or we’ll have to consider our position. 

It is a concern of ours that former students are currently able to vote. 

 USI have given assurances that they’ll be able to verify those that are students and will only count their votes. 

This verification is essential as we will only engage in a process which we can stand over. This is an extremely important decision that we are asking our members to make. They should be confident that all possible steps have been taken to protect the integrity of the process.’

Another e-mail that has been doing the rounds on the interweb is reportedly from NUIG SU sent in April stating;

‘Dear all,

Our Executive met earlier today on this issue. We have unanimously decided not to engage with the HEAnet voting proposal.

We feel it is utterly ridiculous to put the single most important issue in higher education to a vote at a time when they are no longer on campus or engaged in college life. Holding the vote at such a time of year will only serve to ensure that we will not receive a decent level of participation from students. The only result of this will be that the USI and the Students’ Unions will be condemned from many sides for failing to properly engage with its members – and justifiably so. Any mandate received will continuously be deemed illegitimate.

The HEAnet voting model does not allow students to be sufficiently informed of the issues surrounding the funding of higher education through debates, campus media, shout-outs and information sessions on campus. On an issue of such central importance to USI, I cannot understand the need to rush this through.

It is worth pointing out that I do not know of any groundswell of popular opinion, such as a positive vote in a class reps council or a referendum, from the student body in any significant number of colleges, which calls for a change in the current USI policy. However, I do recall some 40,000 students being led through Dublin in November under the banner of ‘Stop Fees, Save the Grant’. I similarly don’t recall any current or incoming sabbatical officers in any Students’ Union having been elected to their positions on platforms of supporting a graduate tax or student loans. Therefore I find it hard to see why we are having this rushed vote in the first place. It seems to me that the student leaders want this policy changed more than the students themselves.

It is painfully ironic that we condemn successive governments for refusing to hold referenda and elections on days which are convenient for students to vote, and then we ourselves go and hold a vote – electronically – when student are at least likely to be engaged with their Students’ Union and college life in general. Having an inherently unsuitable vote during the summer is not how our national union should be engaging with our members

Nevertheless, I wish you all well in holding your own HEAnet votes.’

Ironically a vote that has the intention of unifying the student movement with a cohesive policy is proving to be divisive. Many questions were already being asked from the timing of such a vote (as it in exam time for many of the colleges) to the phrasing of the individual options. USI is clearly in trouble here.

More to follow as events unfold.

– Shane Mc Nally

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It’s time we realised we’re part of a much larger picture

Eoin Griffin once again treats us with his two cents on matters, this time on the USI and their recent decision to call for a renegotiating of the Croke Park Agreement 

Very occasionally I subject myself to listening to George Hook’s drive time show on Newstalk. It has become an infrequent habit of mine, once every 3-4 weeks I’ll tune in for my fill of blue tinged propaganda. I was treated to a double treat recently Continue reading

Call For Materials By StudentMovement.ie

An interesting research project is being undertaken at DCU with the Irish Student Movement Research Project. 

The history of the Irish Student Movement Project is a postgraduate research initiative of the School of Communications in Dublin City University. The project will, for the first time, critically examine the role of the student movement in shaping Irish society and State policy in a number of key areas.

It will give an account of the history of the various organisations established by students and detail key events that made the student movement a force for social change in Ireland.

The three main areas of focus by the project include 1. Students and Feminism, 2. Students and the Church, 3. Student Movement structures.

For more info on the site, its aims and how to contribute to this very worthwhile endevour, check them out! Best of luck to all involved.

An Extreme Situation

In the wake of a recent SU Council meeting at NUI Galway, Sarah McCarthy writes of the dangers of apathy in the wake of the extreme circumstances we find ourselves in today. 

On Monday January 30th, there was an SU Council meeting at which Equality Officer William O’Brien asked the student reps to mandate the SU Executive to ‘consider’ a number of tactics in the fight against fees. They included simple measures like marches and more intrepid steps such as a mass boycott of fees. During the debate that ensued I couldn’t help but wonder if I just hadn’t noticed the giant bubble encasing the NUIG campus. There were arguments against it, there were concerns of Continue reading

Is The Time Coming Where We’ve REALLY Had Enough?

With increased expenses such as the household tax, septic tank charges and the growing likeliness of fracking in Ireland, more and more ordinary people are joining the left against the government. Pádraig McCarrick looks at why this time, things could be different.

“It is morally wrong, unjust and unfair to tax a persons home”.

An interesting quote that’s been surfacing online and on radio the last few weeks is not belonging to one of the usual political firebrands like Joe Higgins, but attributed to none other than Enda Kenny, speaking in 1994, when Fine Gael were opposing a Fianna Fail/Labour coalition attempt to introduce a property tax. Many of the arguments against the charge in ’94 still valid today: anti-home ownership, double-taxation etc were all part of a Fine Gael Leaflet condemning the coalitions plans. So what’s changed? Continue reading