Students criticise ‘intimidating’ SU ‘clique’

While the results of the survey indicate the majority of students are happy with the SU’s performance this year, some students described the Students’ Union as an intimidating clique and criticised Class Rep Council (CRC) meetings.

In the section of the survey which asked students what they would like to see the SU do differently, many students said they would like and end to the ‘clique attitude’.

Adam Assahli, a third year Law and Society student told The College View: “I would prefer to see the SU lose the “clique” attitude. It can be quite intimidating, however the SLC Committee are very approachable”.

One student said the SU need to “be more welcoming to students and less intimidating to students who aren’t ‘in’ with the SU clique.” Another student said they felt the SU is “nearly an exclusive club that does not really interact with the majority of the student body.”

One student even described the SU as a “frat/sorority party union”.

Fiona McGrath voiced the concerns of many students who took part in the survey. “I’m not sure if I would go to them with a problem as it’s quite intimidating to go up to the SU.”

The issue of the ‘SU clique’ also spread to CRC meetings. First year Analytical Science student, Ross McDermott told The College View: “As a class rep myself, it would be nice if what went on in CRC was made more available to everyone, to let the college know what is being discussed. Not sure if this is possible within the constitution of the CRC however. As is, it feels just like a sort of clique who act on important issues with only their say so. It seems a rarity students ever show up for CRC, even though they are entitled to.”

Another student also brought up the poor attendance at CRC meetings. “As a former member of the CRC I found it increasingly frustrating at the poor turnout of the class reps and I do think a mandatory attendance should be enforced with classes being notified via email of the list of class reps who attend.”

One student was very critical of the SU and CRC for taking on a national issue. “I have never heard my class reps say a good word about those high up in the SU. The CRC seems to be rife with tension and stupid politics which aren’t needed. Votes on a college stance on the abortion issue aren’t needed and aren’t a valuable use of the SU and CRC’s time and resources. Make a difference to the ordinary student, not your egos.”

One class representative. who said they were treated badly at meetings because they “didn’t belong to the clique”, said they were disappointed with the work of the SU and “only people that belong to the clique make the decisions”.
They continued: “I have been a student rep for the past 2 years, attended numerous council meetings and I have seen what really goes on and how decisions are being made and it is a disgrace.

“Most reps don’t attend and those that do vote for anything without thinking just to get it over with. None of the student views are really represented and if someone doesn’t agree with the majority they are patronised.”

Responding to the comments, Education Officer Aaron Clogher said he’d agree with students that the SU can be intimidating and come across as a clique.

“I would have said that 12 months ago myself. It’s something I hear every year since I came here. I wasn’t ever a class rep or convenor or anything in the SU until I was elected to this position and I would have agreed with them.

“I think it’s just certain groups of people get more engaged with college life and student politics more so than others. They tend to be the ones who maybe engage with us more, just knocking around.”

Clogher said he finds it difficult to see how the SU can do something about the issue, however he encouraged students to come up to the SU offices and say hello.

Aoife Mullen

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