A campaign has been started by a group of UCC students which ask voters to re-open nominations for the position of Commercial and Communications Officer in the UCC Student Union Election. The position is being contested this year by one candidate, David Condon.
A representative of the RON campaign team, who have named the team ‘Ron Stoppable’ said in a written statement: “We’re a small group of UCC students who watched the hustings, read the manifestos, and looked at the interviews candidates had in the Express, and decided that we couldn’t sit by and allow the position of Comms Officer to go uncontested”. The representative noted that the reason behind the campaigns anonymity was that they “have serious concerns that we’re voicing for ourselves and other students that have reached out to us, and we don’t want those concerns to be lost in the sort of sensationalist drama that spills over when the story can be spun as student drama instead of a legitimate RON campaign”.
“People have asked why specifically Comms, and why not run a campaign to try and contest all positions with only one candidate running” the statement goes on to say “We believe that the current candidate fundamentally misunderstands the role of Comms (for example, the proposed initiatives to repeal the alcohol policy and to increase awareness of services like the Sexual Violence Centre fall under the roles of Campaigns and Welfare respectively)[Sic] , has shown disrespect to the candidates he ultimately hopes to work with (as seen in your previous interview when he called typical candidates “clueless in understanding how to communicate to students”)[Sic]” The final point of the statement notes that Condon is “potentially putting students at risk with the alcohol policy, and is supporting contradictory policy in his own manifesto (like the alcohol sponsorship vs ethical sponsorship)[Sic]”.
In a closing statement, the group wished to publicly thank David Condon for reaching out to them and asking for an open dialogue in relation to any issues they had with his campaign, in particular, Condon’s stance on UCC’s alcohol policy. However, they believe that any positive or meaningful change is unviable so close to the elections, with voting set to begin on March 4th for satellite campuses, before opening on UCC’s main campus on March 5th and 6th. “We hope to be able to mobilise more during the three days of voting while balancing with our goal of making this as non-personal as possible” the group said, “We believe that Condon is a passionate and ambitious student, and we wish him the best of luck in the future. However, we believe that the role of Comms would be best fit by someone who raises fewer concerns with students”.
In response to the launch of the RON campaign for the position of Comms, the current candidate for the position, David Condon, said “The R.O.N. Campaign states, that proposing redrafts of a sponsorship policy and increasing awareness of the Sexual Violence Centre is beyond the scope of my position and by suggesting such proposals I have indicated a lack of understanding so egregious to render me an unfit candidate”. He went on to say “The current Comms Officer, Ms. Faye Murphy, clearly stated in her manifesto her proposal to introduce gender-neutral pronouns into the Constitution, as well as plans to promote the Irish language, additionally, Article 6.3.3 of the SU Constitution allows for a wide scope on the extent of a Commercial & Communications Officer’s mandate. I believe the R.O.N. Campaign’s deeply misinformed comments indicate clearly who truly misunderstands the nature, role and remit of the Commercial & Communications Officer position”.
Condon noted that “The R.O.N. Campaign states, that I have disrespected my fellow candidates, without reference or quote from any specific candidate(s). Any campaign that insinuates that candidates who constructively criticizes the weaknesses of past SU Executives is disrespectful is not a campaign worth taking voting advice from. I have the utmost respect to all of my fellow candidates who have the courage and confidence to put themselves on the ballot. To suggest otherwise based on out of context comments is deeply insulting and deliberately inflammatory”.
“It is always healthy to see democracy in action, but democracy comes with certain rules and obligations and I think this campaign raises broader questions about the integrity of SU elections with regards to how RON campaigns are governed”. According to Condon “Legitimate candidates collect 500 signatures, they submit a manifesto, they are obligated to be a current UCC Student, abide by campaign finance regulations and must act with dignity and respect, abiding always by the basic rules of fair play. Every online post any legitimate campaign puts out is heavily monitored by the Union, its content regulated, and falsehoods pointed out and corrected”. Condon finished up by saying “If Re-open Nomination campaigns wish to be treated as legitimate campaigns, then they ought to abide by the same rules”.
As a part of the University Express’s reporting, we asked a number of candidates who are contesting other positions in this year’s SU elections whether they had been offended or disrespected by Condon’s “Clueless in understanding how to communicate to students” comment. While the majority of candidates reported no such feeling and got no negative connotations from his comments. One candidate, however, did note that they felt “ @ed [Sic]” by the Condon’s speech at the full-time hustings last week and noted that “there was another way to phrase that sentiment which would have been nicer and more to the point rather making all the actual engaged students annoyed as they would be the only ones watching hustings”. This particular candidate went on to say that despite the comments, they did understand where Condon was coming from in his speech and agreed with the majority his speech’s content.
Voting begins for this years SU Elections today, March 4th 2019, and continues until 5pm on Wednesday March 6th.