Day One on the Campaign Trail

Chief News Editor Katie O’Shaughnessy

The second round of Student Union voting started with a bang, as the U building was flooded with colourful campaigning. Following last month’s failed bid to elect a new student government, past candidates have made a strong return and have brought new candidates along with them. The Student Union election has a mandatory minimum voting threshold of 2,000 students, which is about 10 percent of the student body. However, they missed out by just three votes. The gut wrenching result certainly was a blow, but today has been proof that these students are not giving up so easy. 

My number one takeaway from the day is the obvious difference in the actions of the incumbent Student Union compared to the previous campaigning and voting period. All members were out and around the U building, in ‘Lead DCUSU’ crew necks. They carried picket signs and supported the candidates far more outwardly than before. It makes a true difference. Every candidate I spoke with, particularly those who campaigned in the first round, was grateful for the support. 

The general atmosphere was colourfully chaotic. When I walked through ‘The Street’ at lunchtime, I was bombarded by candidates selling themselves and their brands. Every candidate has stepped it up massively and any uncomfortable seriousness has been quickly shrugged off. Many students were engaging and asking questions of the candidates. As I spoke with Karl Ormsby, a Presidential candidate, a student came directly to ask him about campus gym membership and the two engaged in a positive conversation. Candidate for Societies Officer Sophie King told me that DCU President Dáire Keogh had just walked through and had engaged with the candidates and their individual campaigns as well. The support has elevated the spirits of the candidates and will certainly rub off on voters. 

I spoke with nine candidates who had taken up space in ‘The Street’. I had the opportunity to ask each of them about their manifesto, and how the first day of campaigning is going. Please note that I was unable to speak with every candidate, so this is not a complete list. 

Presidential Candidates

Returning candidate Karl Ormsby (he/him) has three tenets to his campaign: Inclusivity, Accountability, & Rediscovery. However, he also wants to focus on marketing the SU more effectively. He spoke with me about a question he received about Student Accommodation support. However, the support is already there – yet no one knows about it. 

Karl has spent his day dressed in Garfield slippers and beside a large poster of Bibble from Barbie: Fairytopia. He said: “I want to bring fun back to DCUSU. I want to do it in a way where students are involved and care about it”. 

New candidate Kate Wray (she/they) has focused her campaign on reducing student fees, making life easier for commuters, fighting for renter rights and informing students about the union. They spoke to me about the cost of private coaches (3.75 euros per ticket) for commuters without a train route. 

She was excited by the student’s drive to vote and said “it’s really great to meet new people and tell them what the union is doing and what the union can do for them”. 

Patricia Montes Torres (she/her) was previously campaigning for VP Academic Life, but has now changed lanes to chase the Presidency. She focuses on optimising the administration side of University life through the timetabling system and education on AI. She also wants to create more flexible payment options, create a more international experience for non-native students and enhance the postgraduate experience. 

“Everything is yellow”, Patricia remarked, pointing to her strong theme. She had spent the morning in and out of classrooms, where I’m sure her themed posters have made an impact. 

VP for Academic Life 

Seán Greene (he/him) focused his campaign on four values, which happen to start with the letters of his name: Supporting students, aiding student Experience, improving student Access & finding New ways to learn. 

Seán remarked that he had been “running around all day”. He had already addressed seven classes when I spoke with him at about 2 pm!

VP for Community & Citizenship 

Ben Watson (he/him) wants MORE from DCU: Multifaceted development policies, improved Opportunities to take on leadership roles, increased transparency to allow better Representation & building Engagement with students. He wants to really nurture a culture that allows protest and advocacy by us students. 

His first day went well as he spoke with many students about their issues. This is because he said, “if I do get elected I can hit the ground running with these issues”. 

Brandon Perry (he/him) wants to maintain affordability at college. Most of his policies revolve around reducing fees; in the student contribution and the cost of joining clubs and societies. He wants to ensure students are proactive, and he will achieve this by better-updating students on what’s being done by DCUSU. 

“I think there’s been really good engagement across the board from students”, Brandon said. “First day is always the busiest. You have got your energy. I just want to keep the momentum up”. 

VP for Wellbeing 

Jamie Mangan (he/him) has four things to say. He wants to encourage HIV & STD testing for students, take care of students living away from home for the first time, ensure lecturers are handling student mental health correctly and ensure mental health facilities at DCU are fit for purpose. 

As Jamie is a new candidate, his priority for the day is to make students “remember my face”. He hopes this will create some curiosity around him as “people don’t recognise me as much as they would the other candidates who ran last time”. 

Adi Thakar (he/him) is there to holistically improve the health and wellbeing of DCU students. His manifesto includes ending bullying cycles, improving culture inclusion and creating better bike locking facilities. However, his specific policy on water maintenance and improving inclusivity for all cultural diets in the Pantry is most effective. 

Adi and his campaign team had a very successful day. Not only have students promised him his vote, but so have non-students. “Even young people, who are not eligible to vote have come up and said they will tell people to vote for me!”

Societies Officer 

Sophie King (she/her) is the only part-time candidate I spoke with, but her campaign is as big as any full-time hopeful. Sophie wants to make Societies more accessible for all – especially commuters. She wants to place more emphasis on societies in semester two. 

Sophie is a returning candidate and was very impressed by the student interests this time around. “They don’t realise how much of an impact their vote had… I feel like we’ve got a lot more force behind us now”. 

Chief News Editor, Katie O’Shaughnessy