Gisèle Scanlon was tonight elected president of the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) for the coming year, after running unopposed in an online election that saw the GSU record its highest-ever turnout.
Abhiswetta Bhattacharjee has won the race for the body’s vice-presidency, defeating Joseph Keegan to the role with 72 per cent of the vote.
Scanlon won 85 per cent of the vote, with more than 670 postgraduate students turning out – a 21 per cent increase on last year. The turnout is the body’s highest ever, according to the GSU’s Electoral Commission, and represents an increase of 89 per cent on 2018.
Some 547 postgraduates voted for Scanlon, with 93 voting to re-open nominations.
In the race for vice-president, Bhattacharjee won 432 votes, with 126 students voting for Keegan. Just 36 students voted to re-open nominations.
In an email announcing the results, John Tighe, the chair of the Electoral Commission, said the turnout is “testament to the work of the Electoral Commission and the three campaigns”.
The election was run using Mi-Voice, a UK-based online elections company, “to ensure that the election is completely secure and fair in these unprecedented times”.
Scanlon takes over as president from Shaz Oye, the GSU’s current president, with whom she had a public falling out earlier this year.
At the time, Oye accused her vice-president of making a “spurious accusation”, after Scanlon rebuked her at a public meeting for not knowing the hourly rate of PhD students’ stipends.
At the meeting, Scanlon cut across Oye as she discussed with postgraduates the hourly rate earned by PhD students on their stipends. When Oye struggled to name a figure, Scanlon asked: “Why don’t you know this?”, and added: “It’s extremely important for you to know that stuff.”
Asked to comment on the episode in an interview with The University Times this week, Scanlon said: “I can only speak for myself. Let me be respectful in that manner.”
Scanlon also said that “academia is in this sort of unspoken battle with industry, and it is an ‘us’ and a ‘them’. I want a stronger focus on higher education and research and research support”.
Speaking about the role of postgraduate students in Trinity’s five-year strategic plan – much of which is now in doubt amid financial concerns caused by the pandemic – she said: “What I want to do is sit down with a group of great postgraduate thinkers and come up with our asks: that certain things not be cut, where they are referenced correctly, where it’s a professional piece of work and it’s not just an off-the-top-of-my-head thought.”