Welcome to the first day of Congress 2019. This year taking place at the Breaffy House Resort in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Member Organizations have gathered for the annual Congress. This is where all the member organizations discuss a variety of motions on different topics throughout the next four days. From Constitutional Amendments to motions around academic affairs, welfare and more. Congress is also where MOs vote for the new USI President and various USI officers are elected. DITSU has been mandated by vote of student council as to who they have to support in these elections.
The first day starts off slowly, by going through USI constitutional policies that are due to expire, as well as constitutional amendments and election hustings (for those who have not been mandate/made a decision yet around who they will support). These things are, nonetheless, important to go through. It is also a long day and there’s a lot to get through (especially when your DITSU delegates woke up far, far too early…).
So first, just to make sure that all delegates in the room know how procedural motions work, a mock motion was brought up and a mock debate took place by the Steering Committee to demonstrate. This brought out quite a few smiles and giggles from delegates.
Then the current USI President also gave a powerful speech opening this year’s Congress, highlighting the various issues that still need to be dealt with and focused on such as the housing crisis and higher education fees.
So kicking into interim policies subject to ratification by Congress (this means that these policies still need to be consented to to be officially adopted). The first motion that sparked debate was boycotting Aramark. Many of your DITSU delegates also spoke up on this motion, with speakers on both sides. The heart of the motion is that Direct Provision is an inhumane thing. As a result, we should not be supporting a company which would work with such an organization. Even just by boycotting Aramark, it can educate and bring awareness about the issue to people who don’t even know about it. However those who were against the motion, simply felt that by boycotting a company such as Aramark would not be enough, or good enough action with Direct Provision. Different and better action should be taken instead. In the end, the vote was very tight and the motion fell. DITSU delegate, Jamie O’Neill, who was for the motion, said that the result was disappointing, not only because he wanted to see the motion pass but also because he did not feel that such an important motion should have required two-thirds vote to pass. This feeling was echoed by other delegates as well. A two-thirds vote is required for motion that affect people on a national level, not just directly students. However the feeling was that as Aramark is a catering company on many university campuses, it does indeed affect students as well.
Things then moved on to Policies Due to Expire however, after three motions, the session time for that section had ended. Therefore the motions not discussed would move to “undiscussed motions” and be finished off on another day. Swiftly it moved onto Constitutional Amendments. The motion that gathered the most debate was one entitled “Special Focus on Higher Education”. This motion proposed that the USI President work with a special focus on matters relation to higher education. Many against this motion argued that it would completely take away the main aim of the work of USI- that it is their jobs to help students lobby and take action on a variety of issues. The housing crisis, higher education fees etc. Also there were those against the motion who felt that the motion completely disincluded Further Education institutions, who already do not receive any representation in USI. The debate went on for a long time but the main voices were on the “against” side. In the end, the motion fell.
Due to having run out of time, the session ended here. Finally, in the evening, there was USI Hustings, which your DITSU delegates attended to in support of current DITSU VP of Welfare Roisin O’Donovan, who is running for VP of Welfare for USI. But also to support those who student council had voted to support in these elections.
That closes the first day of Congress. As you can see, it already started off pretty darn strong so let’s bring on the second day!