When this newspaper reported earlier this week that the Central Societies Committee (CSC) denied breaching its own constitution, despite plans to run elections for its executive six months late, the uproar was minimal.
Of course, the CSC’s AGM – or lack thereof – is not the most important thing going on in the world right now. Using the pandemic as an excuse to not follow a constitutional requirement, however, is a dangerous precedent to set, especially when the AGM could so easily have happened online.
The CSC is one of College’s capitated bodies, along with Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU), Dublin University Central Athletic Club (DUCAC), Trinity Publications and the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU). If TCDSU pulled the same trick under the guise of continuity, there would – rightly – be uproar. The CSC should be held to the same standards.
The fact of the matter is that none of the CSC’s arguments for delaying its AGM hold up. If continuity was an issue worthy of putting off an AGM, then why did so many ordinary societies have to run AGMs? Moreover, there are a number of full-time staff in the CSC that could surely have smoothed over any continuity issues that were to arise. And why couldn’t the current committee simply advise the new – democratically elected – one?
If the CSC had elected the committee in March like they were supposed to, it would have had six months to train in the new committee to be able to deal with all the unique issues societies will face this year. Now, when – or if – elections happen, the new committee will be thrown in the deep end, having to deal with problems from day one without the “ease-in” period summer would have provided.
Yes, there are more important things going on at the moment. But the CSC – invented to regulate society life – has undermined the heart of every society: its constitution. A constitutional breach – and a brazen, entitled one at that – sets a dangerous precedent for how the coronavirus can be used as an excuse to bend the rules.