Short(er) Manifesto

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

Catering on Campus
• Fight to introduce competition
• Maintain effective price controls
• Insist that competition is introduced throughout campus
• Insist the Student Center 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
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’.

Rag Week: I was heavily involved in the first proper Rag week in a number of years last year. It’s great to see things getting even better again. We must get the Rag week committee in place early to give them the best chance to organize the fun!

National Tours: Push USI to priorities and fulfill my congress mandate for a national campaign coordinated by a USI entertainments manager. Co-operation with other colleges a great way to get the best act to Cork.
Clubs & Socs on Campus

• Bring student activities like clubs and societies back to campus
• 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
Provide an alternative to drinking alcohol in our college bars – mixer bottles are far too expensive – insist on dash/mixer machines to bring down the cost to students• Ticket sales in offsite locations for those off the main campus.

Clubs & Socs
I’ve long been involved with student activities. The running of clubs and socs is best left to the Guild and the Clubs exec – I’ll be there if they need me.

The Library
Simply put we just don’t have enough books and what we do have we need more of. Our libraries must be the priority!

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
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.

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
• Effective laptop purchase scheme – value for money laptops for students.
• 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.
• Better funding for student email.

Better targeting of all student mails – there needs to be an effective alternative.

• 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

Social Areas

Student Center
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. Students’ often don’t realize that they pay a huge amount every year for the upkeep of the student centre.

• Make sure that moves to make the Student Centre a limited company is the best for students – this cant squeeze out student representatives.
• 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 without spending 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

Off-Campus Centres
The Students Union must actively reach out to students in these off-campus areas and improve their representation. They are paid up members too.

• 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
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
The Union should run classes to develop students. Non academic classes to improve the skill base of students – from First Aid, Public Speaking, Bar skills, health and safety, typing, short hand, ECDL, drivers theory tuition. The possibilities are endless.

Accommodation
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.

• 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.

Student Services
Fighting any cut back in student service budgets – these are essential to the well being of students.
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.

Student Health Centre
The Health Centre, which is funded by our registration fee, has moved on considerably in the last year. In my year in the Union we were successful in getting the morning after pill – this shows that steps forward can be made.

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
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

A true representative President
Implement systems for Feedback including physical & digital suggestion/comment boxes and regular clinics
A blog to keep Students up to date in the running of the Union .

Registration fee
The student 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.

Education
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
Facilities exist – this should be University wide policy

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 – a simple idea; Postgraduate should be funded to give undergraduate tutorials. Postgraduates gain teaching experience while undergraduates receive a far better degree.

Academic accreditation is essential for student activities if semesterisation is put on the college agenda.

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.

Class Council needs to be involved in the decisions and 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.

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.

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.

Communication
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

• 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
A student Union magazine (online & in print)– we shouldn’t seek to tamper with the express. Its not difficult and it would be informative for students

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.

• 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

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

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.

Equality

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

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. The college must do all it can to accommodate these competing pressures and the Union must be on their side working for them.

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.

Parking

While parking is a concern to a minority, it is essential to the ability of many students to attend college. With the projected increase in the number of Post-Graduate and Mature Students in UCC particularly, the demand for parking will become ever fiercer.
I plan to:
• Get the hours of the park and Ride system extended.
• Look into access to Park and Ride for many parts of the city such as the north side is inadequate or non-existent
• Ensure that no actions which would affect UCC students’ existing rights to park are adversely affected without consultation, as happened has happened previously

Prospective Students

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

Planning for Postgraduates
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.

Many humanities researchers are treated 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.

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.

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 Representation

I will campaign for:
• A part time paid postgrad officer
• A proper network of postgrad student representatives
• 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

Union organisation
Students’ should know when their officers are available
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!

show officer timetables online 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.

Campaigns
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.

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

6 Comments

Sham on February 7, 2007 at 2:38 pm says:

Best of luck Kris. You will make a fine President.

Sham on February 8, 2007 at 4:54 pm says:

fine as in really good not fine as in ok…for clarity.

Liam on February 8, 2007 at 4:55 pm says:

We all know what ya meant Sham………:) dont forget to have a postgrad policy as well :) be nice to have a postgrad officer even!!

Vote4Diarmuid on February 9, 2007 at 11:26 am says:

Well done lad. You’ve been a great President for the Guild, no doubt more of the same for the SU.

Keith on February 15, 2007 at 4:04 pm says:

Where is that manifesto?

liz on February 16, 2007 at 7:17 pm says:

good luck!

Leave a comment