The term of office for all the full time elected officers started in July with a bang! On 17th July, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced in Grangegorman that DIT, IT Tallaght and IT Blanchardstown would merge and become designated as Ireland’s first Technological University – TU Dublin. This was to take place in January, which is only a couple more sleeps away now!
If I wanted to keep this reflection short, I would end it there! However, that was just the beginning of a very busy semester ahead along with trying get on with the role as President. I had an idea when I was Vice President for Education what it would be like, but honestly you only realise it all when you’re in it, and it was a huge step up for me.
The Big Step Up
I knew that I didn’t only have the title of being Chief Spokesperson of the Union, but also the responsibility of managing, supporting and leading a team of elected officers that can best represent and reach their full potential for the benefit of all DIT students. I did have an issue at start that we had no Postgraduate Officer and later in the summer, the Kevin St College Officer resigned, leaving us 2 short with a major semester ahead. This role can’t be done by itself and you need a team of officers, staff and especially volunteers such as Class Reps, to support you and help make things happen.
We managed until the by-elections in early October with huge commitment and energy put in by everybody to support each other, especially with Class Rep recruitment. We got those positions filled and we are in full complement of 11 elected officers. All the officers and staff have really stepped up this year for the challenges that faced us this semester, and I’m always grateful for the support of professional staff so that we can be the politicians and knock down on DIT doors, which we did on more than one occasion this semester!
I’ve come to realize that the summer months of July and August isn’t long enough to prepare. You have to set out your plans for the year, attend USI Sabbatical Officer training, plan and run training for the team, prepare and practice for Orientation week presentations, and accounting for holidays for staff and officers, while some repeats for the part-time officers. Even though it’s my second term as a full time officer, I’m still learning and it wasn’t as straightforward this summer due to the TU.
The Successes and Challenges
I have to say the first couple of weeks of the new semester is a baptism of fire, and I’m proud we got through it as a team with a great Freshers Festival, very successful online Class Rep recruitment and good turnout as always with DIT at the annual national protest, which this year focused on the accommodation crisis. I set my priority as President to the team that I will support them in everything such as campaigns, Class Rep and events, because it’s important as a leader not to only say it, but also show it.
I know that this year was in some cases a lucky and unlucky time to be President. I’m right in the middle of the merger and designation of TU Dublin, I’m involved in creating a new Students’ Union, I have to sort out the interim students facilitates for Grangegorman when 10,000 students move in September 2020, while at the same time fight for the future development of a student centre and sports facilities. This is on top of dealing with all the local issues, such as the human resource crisis that had affected our health centres and library, anti-social behaviour across campuses that led us to close down the pool tables in the Aungier St Common Area, and internal DITSU matters such as an internal audit as a requirement by DIT as part of our funding.
Why don’t you go for it then?!
I’d encourage anyway who always questions what the Students’ Union really do; step into my shoes and take the challenge. If you do consider putting yourself forward next year, please get in contact with me or any other officers so that you learn and understand what it’s really like. I hope that over the Christmas break, and anyone currently in final year, will consider it as I’ve found it so worthwhile!
Next semester will be even busier, and although you may not always see your Union and the elected officers, we are working extremely hard to make your college experience the best it can be. All I would ask is that you continue to support your Union in every way, and especially with a referendum and elections next year for TU Dublin Students’ Union to represent 28,000 of the new University.
I wish you all an amazing Christmas with your friends and family, best of luck with exams in January and looking forward to seeing you all in not DIT, but TU Dublin in 2019!
Is mise le meas,
President, DIT Students’ Union