Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) today said that it would continue to represent postgraduate students, regardless of a motion tabled by the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) to divest from the union.
In a press statement today, TCDSU said that it was “disappointed” to see the motion – which proposes that the GSU formally divests from the union – and added that the change would “greatly limit the ability of both unions to effectively cooperate in representing all students within the college”.
“TCDSU has a constitutional obligation to represent the interests and provide services to all students in Trinity College Dublin”, the union said.
“Postgraduate representation within TCDSU has, historically, been fulfilled by a long-standing Memorandum of Agreement between TCDSU and GSU”, it added. “Going forward, if this Memorandum fails to be renewed, TCDSU is committed to investigating and updating our officership structures to fulfil our representative duties to the Postgraduate Community.”
The intention of the motion is to make the GSU the “sole representative body for the Graduate Students of Trinity”.
It states that the “motion is brought forward on the understanding that those elected members of the Graduate Students Union are those who will be most effective in voicing the concerns of the Unions members”.
“It is submitted that Undergraduate students who are members/officers of the Students Union are unable to properly advocate on the behalf of Postgraduate students as they lack the lived experience of Postgraduate students.”
“This view of representation is reflected within the College statutes in which it is stated that there is a right for students to representation by a Union, but not a specific Union.”
It is unclear what this proposed motion could mean for student representation on College committees. At present, TCDSU appoints all student representatives on committees, apart from committees that call for postgraduate representatives. The GSU selects these representatives.
The motion has been tabled for the GSU’s next EGM.
The GSU has had a tumultuous year: in December, its members blasted the “disorganized chaos” surrounding the election of part-time officers, the results of which were due to be announced at the union’s long-delayed AGM, and in November this newspaper reported that the union’s class representative elections allowed for voter fraud.
The AGM was initially supposed to take place on Monday, December 11th. However, in an email to postgraduate students at 12.23am the Sunday before, 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.