The Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) has come under fire for the “disorganized chaos” surrounding the election of part-time officers, the results of which are due to be announced at the union’s AGM this evening.
The GSU constitution states that the union’s electoral commission must organise “a public hustings for postgraduates” if there is more than one candidate for a vacant position, but no such hustings were organised before voting links were sent out by email. The voting deadline was midday today.
Furthermore, postgraduate students were not given the opportunity to ask candidates questions, as the only information provided in relation to the elections was a 50-word headline and a 250-word statement from each candidate.
Speaking to The University Times, Laura Murphy, a PhD researcher in the School of Physics, said: “We’ve been asked to vote for our representatives prior to the AGM and without any way to contact [the candidates] and ask them any questions we may have.
“The representatives are important because they will vote on our behalf at Council”, Murphy said. “It’s important to me that I understand where people stand on these issues, such as workers’ rights for PhDs, before I vote for them.”
“Basically we were just sent an email with the voting link and there were election statements but there was no email or anything to contact the candidates to ask them questions.”
Tenaya Jorgensen, who is running for the position of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Officer, said that the disorganisation was “flabbergasting”.
“I didn’t even know who I was running against”, she said.
Serena Foo, a PhD candidate who is standing for election for Research Officer, told The University Times in an email that “students cannot ask candidates questions before the annual general meeting (AGM) when the election results will be announced. The elections will be based on a 50 word headline and a 250 word “additional info” section written by candidates”.
“This is not sufficient to determine our next officers”, Foo said. “We should be able to converse with fellow students during the election process through the GSU.”
She added: “My term as current Research Officer is meant to be up at this AGM yet I have received no communication from the president regarding my role since July. I have asked to hold an executive meeting twice leading up to the new academic term with no response from the president.”
“These points are in breach of the GSU constitution and the GSU president should be held accountable for this. It conveys the lack of respect to the candidates and to Trinity’s postgraduate students.”
GSU President Gisèle Scanlon did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.
Today’s AGM was initially supposed to take place on Monday. However, in an email to postgraduate students at 12.23am on Sunday night, GSU President Gisèle Scanlon postponed the AGM, which the union is required to run before the end of the first full week of November according to its constitution.