Just to start, a Sabbatical* refers to a full time elected officer. The role includes President and the three Vice Presidents’ in DITSU. They are Pierre; President, Roisin; Vice President for Welfare, Rebecca; Vice President for Education and Jess; Vice President for Events. We are paid, full time officers of the Students’ Union and to the surprise of a few, don’t attend college anymore as we’ve graduated! The year is short and jam packed busy, and below is a snapshot of what we could be up to on a day.
On Wednesday 24th October, and that morning; Pierre attended the Capturing the Student Voice meeting in IT Tallaght. This is a project as part of TU Dublin that will work and ensure that students have the opportunity to engage and have their voices heard at every level of the new University. It is attended by the elected representatives in IT Tallaght Students’ Union, IT Blanchardstown Students’ Union and DITSU. In addition, there’s staff in Student Services involved as well as staff in DITSU.
That morning was particularly significant because of the three things that was agreed that will be in place to ensure that the new University, from January 1st designation, will be student-centred. This involves the development of the following three documents; a Student Charter, a Student Engagement Charter and a Student Partnership Agreement. We may need to brainstorm jazzier names that would be appealing to students and staff so it’s embedded in the culture of the new University.
To explain, the Student Charter would be like what we have in DIT, the rights that students have and the responsibility of the University to ensure the best learning experience. It would be more up to date and ensure it’s followed by all staff within the University. Then, the Student Engagement Charter would outline every aspect of the University in which students can be involved, such as having a seat and voice in committees, and opportunities to be involved in clubs, societies and volunteering.
Finally, the Student Partnership Agreement is how the new Technological University Dublin Students’ Union will engage with the University. The emphasis being that it will be a yearly partnership agreement worked on and signed by the respective Presidents’ in the Students’ Union and University.
Early that morning also, Rebecca was at the Academic Steering Board meeting in IT Blanchardstown. This is a group representing the academic interests of the three Institutes of Technology, coming into the TU. The meeting largely focussed on what direction this group was taking, and what needs to be in place for January 2019, when the TU kicks off.
A big discussion was held on the composition of the TU Academic Council, an important decision-making body in all academic matters in the TU. We in DITSU were pleased to know that a proposed 12 seats for the new Student Union representatives will be available from January 2019! This will ensure that students will be listened to when we all become TU students.
After the Capturing the Student Voice meeting in IT Tallaght, Pierre returned to DIT to prepare for an emergency National Council in the Union of Students’ in Ireland (USI) offices. Every six weeks, Students’ Union Officers from around the country and members of USI, meet to discuss both local and national issues, and also the forum in which USI elected officers are held accountable for the work they do as the representative body of 374,000 students in Ireland. This meeting was an emergency and not a regular meeting of National Council. It was called by another Students’ Union, with the support of DITSU, to raise one matter: USI’s response to Budget 2019.
In short, to wait until a general election is called, which could be six months or two years, wasn’t the appropriate response by USI to the Government on the budget. The discussions at National Council was on the strategy employed before the Budget, and it was raised that we put so much focus on the accommodation protest on October 3rd that we may have dropped the ball on the Budget. The outcome of the meeting enlisted actions that USI and with the support of Student Unions; can take in order to show to the government how angry students are at the very disappointing Budget for Higher Education.
While National Council was taking place, so was the sit-in protest in Cathal Brugha Street as part of the Save Our Services Campaign, Roisin will explain…
The sit in was organised due to the delays of the refurbishments of the Cathal Brugha street common room area for the past 2 years, and students are still very annoyed about the slow progress with this project. This protest involved a group of Cathal Brugha students and the elected officers sitting in the middle of Cathal Brugha Street foyer for a few hours and refused to move until the following demands were met:
- Issue a formal apology for this shocking delay to all Cathal Brugha street students.
- A commitment in writing that this project will be a priority and completed by the end of November.
- Confirmation of the status of the tender for the refurbishment of the Cathal Brugha common room area, including the proposed timeline for completion of the works.
Once Pierre returned back from the emergency National Council, he immediately contacted the DIT President by phone after receiving no response. The DIT President agreed to the demands, and although he apologised on the phone and by email, he issued a formal apology to all Cathal Brugha Street students the following week once it was confirmed which company would undertake the refurbishment. It is expected that work will begin before Christmas so that it’s ready for when students return for January exams, so keep an eye on Cathal Brugha St Facebook Page for updates.
Then to cap off the day in style, we all attended the last of the Halloween events. Jess organised a Hide & Seek in Grangegorman, with unexpected games. Grangegorman is the brand spanking new DIT site. In a couple of years (fingers crossed), a bunch of you first years from the Brugha, Kevin St & Rathmines, will be up studying on the new campus and basking in the glory of it all.
We like to use the space up in Grangegorman as it is a beautiful campus and is always full of dogs. We started off with our infamous Hide & Seek. This is a terrifying game of hide and seek, in the dark, while we pretend to be zombies. We use the alarm from the Purge to begin the rounds and allowed students to run, hide and await their fate.
There were some distractions, mainly dogs – seriously if you love dogs go to Grangegorman – but we had some scarily good fun with the game.
We then decided to change things up this year as people suggested other childhood games to play. We started off with Tip the Can, then moved on to Bull Dog. One thing we all realized as we were playing these games was that we do not have as much energy as we once did. Bocos was calling us at this point so we headed over for some pizza and pints to top it all off!
This just about captures what it’s like to be a full time elected officer in DITSU, we go along with it, and sometimes forget to stop and let students know what we’re actually doing! So keep an eye on our DITSU page and consider running for an elected position yourself 😉