You may have expected things to be tense after the previous night’s debate. However all attending delegates were mature and left whatever happened in the room, in the room, and had their usual fun in the evening. Which means that people were once again hungover the next morning…if not more hungover, is that even possible?
Day 3 saw Congress delegates discuss and vote on motions around International Affairs and National Affairs, as well as a long discussion around affiliation fee caps.
There was only one motion under International Affairs and it passed with flying colors. It was also proposed to bring in a 30 minute discussion around affiliation fees. This was not a motion, nothing was debated or voted on and nothing would be mandated at the end. The idea just to have a discussion and hear various viewpoints. This was agreed upon and took place after the two motions in National Affairs.
NA 19 – 2, a motion on Post-Brexit support:
Brexit is on many people’s minds and this was a very important motion, particularly for students north of the border. The students ffrom here could be incurred with sudden international fees, which are significantly higher, due to the fact that in the Republic of Ireland, these students would be viewed as international students after Brexit (whenever that actually happens…) A brave speaker spoke about how Brexit, British and Irish jokes are a common source of anxiety for her. She highlighted how it is not okay that she does not feel comfortable speaking in public because of her accent. Her speech was important to bring awareness to the xenophobia that unfortunately exists even here in Ireland.
NA 19 – 7, a motion around the privatisation of public transport:
It was interesting to see DITSU delegates on both sides of this motion (we don’t all have the same opinions, you see.) Those who were against the motion felt that privatisation can something make things better and it could possibly help make the bus service better. However those who were in favor of this motion were most concerned with possible price increases in fares as well as less route options.
Then came the discussion around affiliation fees. This was originally scheduled to only be half an hour but delegates got so into the discussion that they actually voted to give up their 10 minute comfort break to extend the discussion by 10 minutes (that’s dedication for you there, isn’t it?).
The student numebers in universities and colleges are increasing and therefore fees increase as well. This should be looked at differently as not all universities can keep up with the fees demand. It was said that USI is a great organization that does a lot of important work but fees can pose to be a barrier in joining for many colleges. This is the reason why UCD left all those years ago- the fees were simply too much.
With TUDs, the fees soar and it can become fees that colleges simply cannot pay. Trying to figure out how to pay such high fees is added stress and worry to student unions that are becoming TUs, and this is something that is coming all across Ireland.
This discussion brought about many different viewpoints, so people were able to feel how they felt about the issue, and how they felt affiliation fees could be best dealt with. Another speaker felt that this “issue” disproportionately affects large and small SUs. Putting on a cap would only serve the large ones and the smaller ones would still have to pay the same fees. A cap, therefore, would not be the best solution. Instead, it was suggested, that maybe the amount of fees paid per student, both part time and full time, would be able to help. This way all MOs (member organizations) would have a reduction and would benefit from the change. Someone also gave criticism saying that USI often seems to lack a long term plan. They need long term vision and because of the lack of such, areas such as fees are uncertain in the long term.
The rest of the third day was free time, as well as the big fancy Congress dinner (which was delicious, thank you very much.) All that’s left is the fourth and final day…