In less than a week’s time we will see this year’s Unions of Students in Ireland congress come to a close and we will have a new Officer board in place.
A delegation from Queen’s will be going along to the congress so, we at The Scoop thought it would be a good idea to have a look at who exactly is running to be elected to the USI presidency.
This year there are just two contenders to be President of USI. Glenn Fitzpatrick, current VP for campaigns and Dublin regional officer, and student from DIT will go up against Kevin Donoghue, current Deputy President and VP for Academic Affairs & Quality Assurance from Sligo. Both carry a wealth of experience and both have shown a determination to be the next leader of USI and work towards resolving the current disconnect between students and the political decisions that effect them.
At the USI conference, each delegate will have a vote on who becomes the next USI president. However, in a lot of cases the votes from delegates will have been predetermined according to how their Student Council has voted. A series of hustings have taken place across the Republic where votes have teen taken and delegates from those colleges are now mandated to vote for that candidate.
That, however, will not be the case from Queen’s or any delegates coming from other parts of Northern Ireland. There will be roughly 19 delegates who will be attending the conference from the North. To put that in context it’s the same amount of delegates that Trinity College Dublin will have at the conference, the largest from any single college and their council has voted for Kevin Donoghue to become the next president.
If the election was fought and won on social media then Glenn would certainly be the frontrunner. But it’s solid votes and not Facebook ‘Likes’ and shares that will determine the election. The hustings events suggest it will be a tight contest and the votes from the delegates here at Queen’s could make all the difference.
It’s a worthwhile exercise to take a few minutes and read both candidate’s manifestos and their aims and ambitions for the year ahead. From a Northern Irish perspective, Glenn does seem to be in favour of greater link ups if his manifesto and his campaigning this year is taken into consideration. His presence at the DEL cuts rally was a notable one and on his campaign page he writes, “Taking an island-wide approach to campaigning is a key part of building consensus on USI’s position on HE funding and responsibility as a social conscience. I have been privileged to work with and for the student movement in Northern Ireland in recent months.”
Kevin is putting a lot of emphasis in getting student issues on the political agenda with a manifesto pledge to “make education an election issue”. Kevin also focuses a lot on funding that students receive, particularly with regards the ever increasing cost of living, saying, “students cannot afford another cut to their core supports. The increased cost of living, particularly in densely populated urban areas shows a strong need for an increase in supports.”
Weeks, in fact months of hard work and campaigning will all come to a close in the next few days for both candidates. Both have demonstrated their willingness and ability to lead USI for the next year and both would be worthy winners. Whatever happens in the next week, it could have interesting repercussions for ourselves at Queen’s University Belfast which is why all our delegates have a big responsibility to consider who their vote lies with.
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