I wish to serve the students of UCC as President of the Students’ Union and I urge you to read this manifesto – in either the abridges form or in its entirety
Introduction: Why Im standing
Hi my name is Kris Mcelhinney and I am a Presidential candidate in the up coming Students’ Union elections. I am currently Societies Guild President, and was formerly UCCSU Communications officer.
Within the Presidential race I believe that I will be the most effective of the candidates not only on the basis of my policies, and experience but on the basis that I know how to bring my policies to fruition. With hard work and good planning the achievement of my many aims is possible. My time on the Union and Societies Guild have given me a preparation for the bureaucracy and student unfriendly nature of many bodies in UCC which other candidates do not have.
For the last few years we’ve heard a lot about the Students’ Union ‘learning curve’. As a former officer I believe that my year in the Union and my year as Guild President have prepared the ground for a successful year in the Union. A President only gets a year to implement their policies. The most productive time of the year is the Summer – that cannot be spent trying to come to grips with UCC bureaucracy for the first time.
I wish to continue the good work of past Unions – great work has been undertaken to further the cause in student representation, the provision of entertainment and events on campus as well as providing a valuable drop in welfare advice services.
As a Union we have to tackle the issues that actually keep students awake at night – the state of our library, exorbitant food prices and the state (and price) of much of the Student Accommodation surrounding UCC as well as those things which would just make the lives of students easier such as getting rid of queues and keeping them entertained without costing them an arm and a leg.
Like anything, the current SU Exec has room for improvement. I believe I am the candidate to bring this about. While I have been an officer before, it is only now – having learned lessons through experience that I could seek to put myself forward for election to President.
Catering on Campus
Food is always a big item on the agenda of SU candidates – but is rarely on the agenda for the University.
For once this is a fixable problem. Between this SU and the next the catering contract will be renegotiated. It is essential to hit the ground running and I pledge to continue the fight to introduce competition for catering on campus, and to ensure that the price control mechanism remains are continued in any new structure that is created. Last year I also took part in actions which have led to the SU having control of prices in the student centre, these needs to be fully utilised to make the Student Centre a value for money outlet.
Competition is essential to provision of services in UCC – the student centre should already be providing Campbell’s with a competitor. This has not been the case as yet so more companies must be introduced during the renegotiation of the contract. Not all outlets are desirable for profit making so the contract must tie the weaker outlets with stronger ones and sell them in groups.
Until competitors enter the market we must hold campus catering under scrutiny
• Insist that competition is introduced throughout campus
• Insist the Student Centre is an effective alternative (on price)
• Publicize any increases in prices when they happen – compare between all UCC outlets.
• Make better use of the Restaurants Committee.
• Organize publicity campaigns comparing the price Campbell’s Catering pay for food with what they charge
Entertainments & Student Activities
My philosophy with regard the students union is one of buy one get one free.
When you pay into the Union you should get cheap and freely available entertainments – like an insurance policy you get the welfare and educational representation and support as the ‘free’.
From special events like a student Gig on the Quad to regular entertainments that you can see all year round I want to build on the significant successes from this year.
Many believe the Union just does entertainments – that’s fine as long as they also know where the Union is if they need them. In reality many don’t need a Welfare or Education officer more than once or twice but Entertainments are a way for the Union to reach out to students and keep them coming back. Entertainments need to be well organized and well advertised with tickets available to all students.
It is my aim to build on the extremely successful rag week of this year and last year. Seeing students out in force for charity (and fun) is a highlight of the year for many. I aim to maintain the high standard set by this year’s rag week committee, and to do my best to ensure that next year’s events surpass it. Rag week is finally getting back on track – we have to keep the momentum going.
Good entertainments are both a national and local initiative. We need inter-college cooperation to push up the standard of events. Cork might not draw the biggest names automatically – but MEAS in the past has proven that better acts would be inclined to take part in a Colleges tour. I want to push USI to priorities and fulfil my mandate for a national campaign coordinated by a USI entertainments manager.
Clubs & Socs on Campus
More student activities should be held on campus. We need to overcome the issues which stop the bar staying open later and also reform the Drinks rules for UCC to encourage clubs/socs to remain on campus where the environment for drinking can be controlled and made safer.
• Reform drinking rules on campus to mix mature enjoyment with safety to allow student activities to return to campus in greater numbers
• Plan earlier for RAG week to help build in the great event from this year
• Co-operate with other colleges to bring bigger acts to UCC regularly
• New and original special events to compliment the established calendar
• A full years calendar for the start of the year to help students plan better.
• Ticket sales in offsite locations for those off the main campus.
Drinks on Campus
I believe that Clubs, Societies and student activities are unduly hampered by the Drinks Restrictions imposed by UCC. Entertainments are forced off campus (and as such cost more to students
Being forced to pay Campbell’s catering prices to host receptions is not acceptable. At the very least DMLG should be able to offer licenses to on campus functions and receptions so that they can be held on campus without extra hassle or cost.
Reform of the Drinks policy is necessary. It has not worked and has simply made student life more expensive. While lessons have been learned from it – it obviously hasn’t stopped binge drinking. We must implement a sensible joined up policy.
At present it is just as expensive to drink soft drinks as acohol. Buying mixer bottles as soft drinks in a student bar is ridiculous. We need to use Bar committee to insist on gun/postmix/dash machines to drastically reduce the price (without necessarily affecting their profit line).
- Bring students back to the controlled campus environment.
- Tackle the problems such as staffing, security and safety to allow drinking to return to campus
- Provide an effect alternative to alcohol – soft drinks are far too expensive.
Clubs & Socs
I have belonged to numerous student activities in my time in UCC. I have served as the Students Union Representative on the Athletic Union and the Societies Guild – as well as a full term as President of UCC Societies Guild. I fully recognize their importance to students and can guarantee my support for them as President. The running of these organisations should be in the hands of these bodies but I shall be available should they need me.
Simply put we just don’t have enough books and what we do have we need more of. While I would love to promise I’ll come to office with a van load of new books – I cant. It is essential though that the SU keeps up pressure on the college to provide the necessary resources. Our libraries must be the priority!
As anyone in courses which have large classes like Arts, Law and Sciences will tell you. The current amount of books is FAR from enough. It doesn’t help that often reference books and journals are outdated or worn out. It’s just crazy to see those large classes rushing out of lectures to get hold of the few books there are.
With regard the Libraries I plan to
• Make them quieter.
• Have Class reps empowered put books on desk reserve.
• Have Library fines ring fenced for new books
• Press the UCC authorities to examine the opportunities of establishing a corporate sponsorship fund to purchase more academic books
• Press for extended opening hours, especially at weekends and at night during the month off.
• Secure an adequate 24-hour study space for students during the month off.
• Have group study space always available to students
• Promote the use of the library committees to have student needs for quiet/stocked library are met
Computer services, Internet & Printing
Every year, 12 million pages are printed in UCC. On any given day of the week, students queue for printing facilities in UCC. Even in the run-up to exams, few if any queue for library space (where there is full library capacity). Hundred of hours of study time are wasted by queuing for printers this can only get worse in the current arrangement
The number of printers in the open access labs are inadequate. Firstly, we should follow the line from Argos – when your number pops up your printing is ready to be printed and secondly – print dialogue boxes should be on each computer so we can view, select and cancel print jobs rather than queuing for hours.
Trends in 3rd level are toward re-distribution of information. Print Quotas/paid must be resisted. Internet-driven teaching techniques including Blackboard and JSTOR etc are often the only alternative to our under stocked library. Restricting access to printing would seriously damage learning.
While the number of PCs on campus has increased in recent years, more open access computers are still needed. We must keep up pressure on the University to maintain the facilities we have effectively and to develop new resources. The provision of wireless network has been of benefit but the Union must provide an effective lap top purchase scheme so that students who can afford laptops get the best value for money. Also, wireless technology is mostly available in UCC’s restaurants, which is frequented by people who want to eat as opposed to work. We need to look at where wireless can be expanded i.e. all areas of the new library
I will campaign for:
• An end to queuing in open access labs – we should be able to sit till our jobs are ready to been printed (IE, when there is only 3 people in front of you)
• We should explore ideas to cut down waiting time such as slow/fast printing labs
• Increased provision of open access PCs
• Continued free printing without quotas
• Maintain the updating computers in the open access labs and install more printers
• Work with Learning Technologies Unit to ensure the academic staff in UCC take simple steps such as uploading PowerPoint slides ready to print multiple slides to a page.
• Investigate the development of extra Wireless hotspots (especially in libraries) and look into stream lining the registration process.
• The Student Information Network (sin.ucc.ie) should be a desktop link on every open access computer – this will assist with its promotion and make it a facilty for students.
Webmail is infinitely better in recent times than it has been. However, cheap software can only go so far. We must insist that the disparity in funding between staff email accounts and student email accounts be bridged if the college is insistent on moving towards the electronic admin model. It is simple not adequate. Dropped emails, spam and capacity issues aren’t acceptable if students are to actually rely on their student email.
I’m guilty of it, many students who organize student activities are. There shouldn’t be so many allstudent emails. Student activities should not be hampered in advertising themselves – we just need to work though effective alternatives.
We need to target announcement emails better, Random 2nd year Food science student (etc) shouldn’t be annoyed by random Commerce class party (etc). Simple? I think so.
Every society now has their own member’s mailing lists for announcements. These will really take full effect next year when sign ups lists are tailored for digitizing from the start. These should drastically reduce the spamming of allstudents. College data can (and has) been used to pre build mailing lists with class information. Just like this year Societies used an allfreshers list.
• Encourage maintenance of society mailing lists
• Directed class mailing lists and appropriate year lists should streamline the emails from the SU/Reps/UCC
• Reinstate class rep mailing lists for contacting members of the classes they represent
• Proper use of blackboard for class based announcements
Student Social Areas
Thanks to the good work of past presidents Richie & Padraig the Student Centre Hall is gradually being opened up (as demonstrated during Rag week). This must continue. Things aren’t fixed just yet. Student groups like clubs and societies are still being charged for ‘set-up costs’ that they can ill-afford –this is money comes from you. Crazy when you think who paid for the building to be built.
The Student Centre was built in the early 90s with by a student levy – in a very similar way the Mardkye extension last year. Few students actually realise just how much they pay in to keep the place going for a year. Approximately €180,000 in student capitation fees last year, meaning that we, the students, effectively bankroll the place before we enter the premises to pay over the odds for our tea, sandwiches and stationary.
In the next year the Student Centre are likely to push for limited company status. We need to make sure that any such moves are the best for students and don’t squeeze out student representation. We must make full use of available committees like Governing body and even Policy board to ensure this cant happen.
• The Multi-Function Hall should be open to student gigs, club nights and events.
• Student groups such as clubs and societies should not be charged for staffing costs in their student centre for non-profit making events
• The Multi-Function Hall is an ideal venue for student conferences. Like other rooms in UCC – not for profit and educational events should be run in the Student Centre without additional and prohibitive costs.
• The Student Centre is independent of Campbells – at the very least it should be providing competition with regard pricing – especially when so much is being paid in advance by the student levy! 4.50 per sandwich sounds a lot more when you add in the 60euro a year charge per student!
Student Common Room
A student common room is planned for the Students’ Union building on college road. If set up correctly is could be a fantastic resource for students. There are simply not enough spaces for students to socialize. We cannot give up on the Student Centre as a student facility and we certainly can’t make the same mistakes again. Unlike the Student Centre it must be Union controlled so that we can have a place for students to sit and relax with friends without having to spend money . There are numerous problems to be over come but this is a great opportunity for the Union.
• Develop a student focused facility that wont cost students to enjoy
• Resist all attempts to have a common room run by the Student Centre
• Over come college objections to student space
• Organize a student run student space
• Don’t give up on reforming the student centre hall to make it more student friendly
At present, medical, music, ZEPS, and nursing students are isolated by their remoteness from central campus. The risk that they will be ignored has already been breached. The Students Union must actively reach out to students in these off-campus areas and improve their representation. They are paid up members too.
An important aspect in over coming this neglect must be to provide the centres with the facilities to represent themselves. We shouldn’t be trying to spread the central campus – we should recognise the distance – target support/info rather than forcing the main campus to brookfield or the other way round. Looking at the Medical & Health based Societies alone there is the interest for getting involved.
• All support information online
• Certain Park & Ride services to pass through brookfield (to bring students to and from the main campus)
• Push for Union space off campus so those students get value for money (inc access to tickets and Union services)
• Regular office hours on main campus and in the off campus centres (with timetable online)
• Space for the Union to operate from in larger offsite facilities.
• Focus groups – one off/ bi annual committee to find out opininons – unlike working groups these dont need to commit people to giving up huge amounts of time. (eg Brookfield, LGBT, Mature students etc)
• Constitutional review to pushing for a part time/non sabbatical site convenor for off campus sites
• Reinstate long lapsed Medical association as the Medical & Health assoc to help brookfield students help themselves – faculty reps, socs, class reps, ents officer and clubs reps should work together. There is the drive and interest.
• Clubs and societies should be supported in efforts to develop a community atmosphere in Brookfield
Provision of services
UCCSU doesn’t have the resources and space to be a union like those in the UK but services should still be used to draw students in. For instance, space could be used to sell UCC merchandise for Clubs. At present it is just stored in the Mardyke. Schemes like the memorysticks should be continued – finding things students need then getting then at cost price. When I brough in memory sticks last year we brough the price in college down from e120 to e22!
I firmly believe the Students Union should operate with ‘Value for money’ as a core aim.
I want to see if we can make back as much as you paid in – through discounts and cost price offers the Union might be able to reward its members
• “phone book” of student friendly services & offers.
• Student Discounts
• Value for money services
Student Development intiative
I want to see the Union engage with students by providing and facilitating the provision of classes aimed at student development. As well as working with the Counselling and development study skills classes – the Union should look at enabling cost price/ free classes in a range of non academic but entirely useful skills such as First Aid, Public Speaking, Bar skills, health and safety, typing, short hand, ECDL, drivers theory tuition
Every academic year there are problems in the area of student accommodation, both in UCC Campus accommodation and with private landlords. From fires to unpublicised building work. Students are adults and pay a considerable rent for second class status. They should be treated as any other Tenant.
They should have the right to decide what they do with their accommodation – e.g. be allowed to have parties so long as they are not prejudicial to the rights of their neighbours and communities. The Students’ Union should also be dealing with the worrying breaches of students’ right to privacy. Unfair right of residence conditions aren’t acceptable and student apartments are not always properly managed. Accommodation rates in Cork are well above the student average – conditions on the other hand aren’t. At times we pay more than University students in Dublin City. I have been actively involved in leading developing high profile accommodation campaigns (section 50 campaigns) in the past and would hope to:
• Have cost price condom machines installed in campus accommodations.
• Establish residence committees in the various student complexes to deal with complex managers.
• Campaign vigorously where residents’ rights are breached.
• Pressure Campus Accommodation into reviewing the unfair right of residence conditions in leases.
• Publicize the substandard nature of student houses around UCC for instance though the publication of a ‘Rate My Accommodation’ style Bad Landlords Guide (online and in print)
• Force the Revenue to investigate thoroughly the residencies of student accommodations under tax exemptions. They are obligated to do this
• Insist on the inspection of UCC advertised properties for standards.
• Re-evaluate the position of the President as a board member for Campus accommodation. As a director the President has a legal position with the body effectively stifling criticism from the Union. 2 years in we must revaluate if holding this position is of value.
We have some great staff in UCC dedicated to ensuring quality student services. However, all too often essential facilities like the Student Counselling and Student Health are some of the worst funded in any Irish University. UCC might be short of money but we as a Union must make sure that key areas like student services are not forgotten.
With the numbers of non-traditional students set to rise – these are precisely the services that the Union must fight to defend and promote. The Union also plays a key role in getting students to know just what facilities we have on campus. It is important that these are advertised effectively amongst the student body.
I propose the establishment of user groups for each college service. An important initiative begun at the end of my previous sabbatical term must be reenergised. Computer services, library service and student health etc must be subject to user review committees. It is a great way to get students involved in the Union and to keep officers close to the issues affecting students on a day to day basis. All too often the Union has to wait for complaints to come to them – this is a proactive effort to reach out.
Student Health Centre
The Health Centre, which is funded by our registration fee, has moved on considerably in the last year.
I pledge to:
• Campaign for increased funding and an increase in the number of staff employed in the student health centre.
• Oppose any levy on student use of the health centre
• Develop an online booking system – students can then see if there are spaces free without calling the secretary
• Include the health services in the promotion of student health on campus
An open Union
I believe that as president my job would be to represent you, the students of UCC. Dealing with University involves a lot of red tape – and sometimes our own Students’ Union is seen as remote and out of touch. If elected, I’ll make a new sense of openness a priority during my term, and focus on achieving results for students.
I plan to run a blog as part of the Union website to give a running commentary on the work of the Union as a whole. Just because its not sexy enough for Allstudent mails doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. We must also invite and act on feedback submitted through the various avenues. This must include digital feedback; student representative feed back and importantly though clinics for all campuses.
We should also be working to let students know what the money they’ve already paid to come to college is spent on. The registration fee should have a break down of where the money went – too many students dont know just how much they have have committed pay for in services like the student centre. As the representatives of students we need to make sure money is working as hard for students as we possibly can. This includes public audited accounts for the Union.
Campaigns and initiatives based on Education have fallen away in Priority for the Union. Instead campaigning is simply directed at welfare. Welfare important but we cant forget the importance of strong student focused educational campaigns such as study skills and Grind etc.
Early Module Registration & Timetabling
Registration has traditionally taken place at the very start of academic year. This starts the annual scramble for subjects, rooms, tutorials, and course materials. Planning is made difficult by little notice to administrative office of demand on resources. Online registration, though it has had its problems, provides us with a number of opportunities.
• Lobby for a move towards earlier registration (at least to for statistics likely take up of classes)
• Learn lessons from past efforts at Web registration
• Advertise support services who find online registration daunting or for those who simply find web registration hasn’t worked for them!
Digital Submission of Essays
I would like to see the Union press the college to encourage digital submission of continuous assessments such as essays across the board. Facilities already exist and many departments are open to it but this should be encouraged to cut down the hassle and time wasted by ‘handing up’ essays.
Teaching & Learning
As a University we must improve the quality of teaching. Module appraisal is essential – the way to have staff take it seriously is to make it part of staff promotion and development schemes. Tutorials are also an important issue relating to teaching. Lack of resources has forced the cutting of tutorials across the disciplines. The idea is simple; Postgraduate should be funded to give undergraduate tutorials. Postgraduates would then gain teaching experience while undergraduates receive a far better degree. The lobbying to get this put in place will take work but it is certainly worth being prioritised by Unions.
If Semesterisation becomes a University priority we must ensure that student life in the form of extra curricular activities does not suffer. We must ensure that a system is in place where the extra credit modules are extended to a properly accredited system. This should not form part of your academic degree but it should be recognised as an achievement. Societies and Clubs activities give students practical skills such as organisation and leadership. They cannot be allowed to die out.
Student Representation – Class Council
In UCC, too often the students that complain are seen as trouble makers. We must address the ethos behind college mechanisms to ensure a student focus. We need to make sure that the new Faculty/College council systems are recognised as the voice of students. The SU must work to ensure that before new policies are introduced as wide a variety of students get the chance to have their views taken into account as possible.
Top down organisations generally have the effect of emasculating active membership. It is all too easy for the 4 sabbitical officers to think they are the Union. They are far from it. One of the best advances in recent years has been the ‘by-in’ from Class reps. Class Council needs to be involved in the achievements of its Union. They should sit at every possible level of the University administration to make sure student issues are heard. This is important to continue the sense of participation and involvement that has been created in recent years.
Linda Kelly has demonstrated the importance of a strong chair of Class Council. Solid foundations are in place for Class Council to develop its potential to be an even more effective student parliament for UCC. It should serve as the body which outlines the policies which the SU should then faithfully implement.
Class Council should be a body concentrating solely on the needs of students. There is a view that it is ineffective and inconsequential as a body. Class Council, in the past, has been hijacked by interest groups. Though their aims are often laudable, there focus is not the same as that of Class Council. Class Council is engaged in a battle of perception that can only be won in the long run if Class Council continues, as it has this year, to bat aside the distractions from the real battles that students face.
The ballot system is a good one. Fundamental problems like publicity, promotion and organisation did blight its implementation however. We are in a much improved position one year in – we know the problems and can address them.
Some of the most important work of a class rep is actually done during the summer when classes are being put together – moving elections to the second term (perhaps even during main SU election) to ensure that a rep is in place and contactable to make sure problems are averted
We need to make sure we get the best class reps. Some students stand for class rep for the status others stand to be the party organiser. This is a problem where they have no interest in student problems.
There are issues which remain to be addressed. I believe:
• Meetings be professional and streamlined with a fixed agenda – short and to the point
• With the change to the system that were implemented we need a review to make sure that classes arent left unrepresented
• Class rep announcments over allstudents are spam. Bring back the email accounts with their class mailing lists attatched to help class reps publice to their classes. This needs to be done early to ensure their effectiveness. At worst we need general Year/ Subject lists to better target messages which would have been allstudents.
• Social Secretaries – Large classes can pose too much work for some class reps. We should offer class reps a choice of electing a second class rep with sole responsibility for being the social/party organiser. The dual effect of this will be focusing class reps on the representative role and secondly increasing the class spirit.
• Focused mandates should be adopted and publicised after each meeting – these should be fulfilled by the SU.
• Similar to the new ‘Societies for Dummies’ handbook – it is important that all Class reps are fully prepared for acting out their new role. A reference guide should compliment expanded training sessions.
• Interest groups should not be entertained unless their issue is of relevance to students lives in UCC.
• Last year I was involved in resurrecting the Students Union AGM. A General meeting should be called. Not everyone has the time and commitment or enthusiasm to be a class rep. Open forums can used to take fresh ideas (and criticisms) on board.
My Communications background has shown me the ways to communicate and the methods to avoid – The SU does good work – getting the information across has been the problem. A gulf in communication with students has existed again this year. It’s an ever difficult battle to win but it should be tackled from all sides. As President I’d hope to have a greater opportunity to direct SU initiatives rather than simply implement them
Provision of information & Online facilities
Part of what makes UCC great is diversity, it is also cause of many of its problems. UCC as a mix between a Campus University and a City University faces difficulties with creating a spirit of inclusion and particularly in the dissemination of information. We must cut down on the time students spend looking for information by properly employing methods like the new Student Information Network
• Develop the use of the new student information network (including the students’ union website http://su.ucc.ie ) to really become the one stop shop for student information needs
• A full Grind online service.
• A proper integrated Jobs online facility within the website
• A full Year plan for the College year available (online and inprint) from the start of term – with ents and events available to help you plan your year.
• Reinstate a regular (quarterly) SU publication (online and inprint) similar to the FUCC Magazine from last year– to keep UCC students abrest of whats going on and how their money is being spent.
An SU Publication
We shouldn’t be talking about putting ‘SU things’ into the UCC Express – the UCC Express should be independent and impartial. The Unions Communications’ Officer should be capable of coordinating a small seasonal publication directly from the Union. Not everything the Union does is sexy enough to be ‘news’ but that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting. Last year fucc sought to be a light hearted and informative. It was not overly time consuming and would have significant benefits in terms of spreading knowledge of whats going on in UCC.
The UCC Express
At present the Union is responsible both financially and with legally with regard the papers content – despite its editorial independence. That does not make sense for the good running of either body. Student publications need to be independent of the Students Union. Where it is necessary to be critical of the Union they need full freedom to do so. Financial controls are an important limit on the Express. The Journo Soc publication Motley, now financially established shows that is possible for independent publications to survive. Formal structures to ensure the maintenance of the paper are essential. While rushed freedom could damage the paper, initially I would like to see a clear budget set aside for the year. Ultimately, I’d like to see a situation reached where a full time editor was able to direct the paper from outside of the Union.
Distributing newspapers and magazines is both expensive and time consuming. We should be providing an alternative where possible. The UCC Express hasn’t had a fully functioning website for about 5 years. Sadly, there is only so much you can do to the print run of a free paper. Long promised, an online express would do well to bring the main campus together with off site areas. More and more we get our news online. The present situation of having downloadable .pdf online is better than nothing but we have to make it easier to read and promote it amongst the student body. This could also give prospective students and other interested parties a chance to see the college in a different way.
• A publications committee for UCC, similar to those in other Irish Universities (eg Trinity) must be established to encourage, oversee and promote independent student publications.
• A clear budget for the UCC Express
• Express online to make UCC news freely available and not restricted to a limited print run
Irish language & accessability
While my education outside of Ireland has left me with little Irish beyond a begginers spoken Irish class I do respect the importance for Irish speakers to be able to deal in Irish. However, it is active developments rather than simple lip service that are what is important. When chosing the format of the website it was crucial to have the option of providing an Irish language translation.
• I would undertake to have a working Irish language version of the website.
• Aid the Irish officer in running targetted initiative and campaigns
• Push for USI to lobby for effective teaching of Irish in schools
Fees and Grants
While fees are, at present, are not as pressing an issue, I remain vehemently opposed to their re-introduction. I support any moves to increase the current grant – finance should not be a barrier to entry into 3rd Level education. The queues to the fees and grants office are simply terrible. More information must be made available to speed up the process.
As well as continuing the Unions policy commitment to fighting for equality in all walks of life I would hope to see a module of as part of the proposed Student Development Initiative specifically designed for Officers of the Union, Class Reps, Clubs and Societies as well as the wider student body. The aim of the Union must be to adequately equip as many students as possible to deal with issues of inequality. This is an effort beyond lip service to actually target the problem.
Mature Students & Evening Students
Many mature students/ evening students often need to balance a professional and family life with the same academic pressures as other students. They should no longer be the forgotten people of UCC. The college must do all it can to accommodate these competing pressures and the Union must be on their side working for them. Finance is often a huge concern for many mature students/evening students – clear advice before they enter college and after are essential. Many mature students can only access the library at weekends; only facilitating this in the second term isn’t good enough. We need only look at the successful Access Programmes and Disabled Students Office to see that support services can be effective but mature students & evening students must to be included in the decision.
As President, I will:
• Explore the possibility of a mature student/evening student officer within the Union as part of CRG
• Consult the students at the heart of the matter to see what their needs are
• Campaign for increased opening hours at weekends.
• Specifically focus on a mature student’s information campaign.
• Use the proposed alternative prospectus to give mature students/evening students a real understanding of the demands of college.
We need to make sure the students that come to UCC know what they are getting. Too frequently we hear about courses not being what students ‘expected’. Students retention and contentment with their course might be improved if they got a genuine perspective on the course they were taking up.
• Kick start an alternative Prospectus written for students by students.
• A true and accurate portrayal of UCC will give a more effective and better introduction to new students.
• Accurate finance information should be included, including information about how to apply for grants etc
• Within this should be an accurate account of how much each course costs. Inclusive of all fees and course materials.
• CAO brings you to the book of modules – UCC should be using a proper website for admissions on each course
• The book of modules (or equivilant link) should be used to give an accurate reflection of student life in UCC.
Research Postgraduates Issues
Postgraduate students have specific concerns and issues – it is essential that this is recognised and acted upon. Even amongst the same disciplines, we must also understand that there are two distinct groups of Postgrads (research and taught) with very different needs. While many of the issues addressed throughout my manifesto will affect taught students there are clear issues for those engaged in research.
Planning for Postgraduates
One of the key growth areas in our University is the area of postgraduate research. While there exists a commitment to double the number of Postgraduates in UCC in the coming years, there are not enough facilities for the post grads we have at present and things will only get worse. The ‘Postgraduate Library’ will not be solely for postgraduates. There is a dearth of facilities and space – very few have the desk-space, phone and internet access they need. Supervision in many faculties is also unfocussed and inadequate.
There is a perception within UCC, and not unwarranted, that those researching in arts, social sciences, business and law do not receive the types of facilities, funding and tutorial experience that other research students receive. Within the Sciences there are many funding opportunities, however this is not the case in the humanities. Many humanities researchers feel like second class citizens within UCC where there research is somehow valued less than those within the sciences. UCC needs to emphasis the importance of both types of research in building our knowledge based economy.
Funding for Postgraduates
UCC cannot hope to maintain its position as a leading research institution where its research students must, in effect, take a second job to survive in college. This is an issue which must be tackled with urgency.
We need to continually increase sources of funding especially where the Strategic Innovation Fund has an inbuilt bias towards Science and engineering. Arts and Humanities are essential for the maintenance Academia and a strong University. Funding levels are minimal for those on studentships which are not subject to external funding. At present research funding appears to reflect a belief that one form of research is more socially valuable than another. As a Students’ Union we must fight to tackle this misconception – all research is important for a knowledge based economy. Funding for Humanities through the IRCHSS needs to be developed further and IRCHSS funding should be placed at the same level as IRCSET. Difference in funding at a national level between humanities and sciences creates an impression that one level of research is more socially valuable than the other.
Training for Postgraduates
Most supervisors have no training in the skills required and become supervisors merely by virtue of their qualifications for their own earlier work. Skills and standards must be established and maintained.
Compulsory teaching lecturing element in all Masters/PhD programs must be encouraged in an effort to ensure the greater quality of potential lecturers. The STEPS Module is a positive step for UCC. However, it is essential that similar free programmes within the other departments of UCC continue to be developed and made widely available. Central funding should be made available for these departmental training courses. At the moment, many postgraduate demonstrators (almost exclusively within the sciences) are doing an inordinate amount of lab work which is underpaid. The attitude of certain science based academics is that ‘since we did this, then so should they’. It is no longer acceptable for any postgraduate student to be paid a pittance for their tutorial/demonstration work. Postgraduate tutors/demonstrators should also receive feedback from their students on how they may improve their teaching experience.
Representation for postgraduates is wholly inadequate. Former Postgrad officers like Paul, Liam and the current postgraduate officer John have had to fight all of the usual concerns of postgrads such as funding and facilities AND have taken on the extra representative role across all disciplines. A wholey unforgiving experience while attempting to maintain the standard of their study and tutor at the same time. Postgraduate representation must model the structures of college – with a Rep from each College/ faculty coordinated by a part time paid officer. At the very least the postgrad officer should not be forced to take on extra employment to fund their Union and other committments.
I will campaign for:
• The provision of adequate facilities such as study space and offices for Postgraduates especially those within the Humanities.
• Dedicated postgraduate computer labs and printers. Phd students shouldn’t be queuing behind first years to gain access to printers
• Adequate Postgraduate only areas of library
• Fighting for ‘flexible learning’ – Postgrads need far greater access to their laboratory facilities and office spaces.
• Mandatory training for potential Postgraduate supervisors.
• Tackle the Supervisor/Student ratio. Contact and flexibility are essential. At the very least we must limit the number of PhD/Research students per supervisor.
• Health & Safety Training available for demonstrators responsible for classes/groups
An effective UnionStudents’ is the key part of Students’ Union – As a simple matter, I think students should know when Union officers will be available. I have experienced boths sides of the coin. Students can be lost from the Union forever if they call and see no one is there for them. At the same token SU officers must be visible from the first week of the year to the last – not just those weeks. They have things to do!
Similar to http://sin.ucc.ie/eventswall which shows students where societies are – students should be able to know where their paid officers are when they plan to call to see them. Office hours should be regular, public and adhered to.
I believe the SU should be run in as professional a manner as possible. A hardworking, committed ethos should start at the level of President and work down. The SU President is required to sit on many many committees in UCC. My experiences in Societies, The Societies Guild and the Students Union will prove a great advantage to me if I am elected
It is essential that all officers are well trained. For instance, I would not be happy dealing with a Welfare Officer lacking a solid core level of training. If USI cannot provide this then it is essential that a Union looks outside to other organisations for support.
We must have well planned and run campaigns. A student focus to campaigns is an essential at all times. Campaigns where the issue can be tackled as well as awareness are important. (Eg Section 50). Non student focused issues are a distraction and a waste of resources.
Union campaigns must be worked to the student body through the Communications officer. My experience in this area would help me no end in providing effective direction for campaigns. Education campaigns appear to have fallen away in their priority from the Union. UCCSU is essentially based around the academic so it is important that they fulfil successful campaigns in this area too.
The new President and Re-Structuring
The restructuring process was supposed to represent a fundamental shift in the organisation of the University. A core aim was to make administrative and organisational savings. In the transition to the more streamlined administration envisaged all that has actually been created was an extra layer of bureaucracy! A new President for UCC brings new opportunities for the Students Union. A clear and effective voice for students is essential to refocus the college’s relationship with students and ensure that any savings are directed towards improving facilities for learning and core student services.
Conclusion : Perception
While I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, UCC it is far from a perfect institution. That many prospective officers can write many thousand word documents demonstrate this. This should be just a taste of what I see as the priorities for UCC. Realistically, not everything can be solved in a year – I believe that I have the commitment and the enthusiasm to drive forward the fight for student needs and conditions. Our Union must be open, transparent and accountable. It must be a Union which represents all of its students.
It is essential that we take a long-term view of student issues. UCC does listen to its Students’ Union – we must ensure we have a Students’ Union in place with the experience and knowledge to achieve the best for the students of UCC.
During this short election period we don’t have long to convince you of the merits of Student Unions’ – I hope you find these principles outlined acceptable and understand that I have and will work hard for students given the opportunity. On this Manifesto I ask for your support me in voting for me to be your UCC SU President 07/08