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Students’ Union Election: Candidate Watch – Commercial and Communications Officer

UCC’s annual Student Union Elections take place next week, with voting taking place on March 4th, 5th and 6th. This year, as part of the election registration process, candidates were asked to answer five questions for The University Express about their campaign, their manifesto and their plans were they to be elected. Each day, we will be running through the different positions and shining a light on each of the candidates. In this issue, we focus on the one candidate for the position of Commercial and Communications Officer: David Condon.

 

David Condon

What made you choose to run for this position?

While I am passionate about both the Commercial and Communication elements entailed in this position it would be disingenuous of me not to admit that my realisation that communication practices in the Union were desperately in need of wholesale reform was the primary driving factor in my decision to run for the position of Commercial & Communications Officer.

Over the past three years I have been represented by three different SU Executives all of whom have displayed strength in fighting for some student interests and weaknesses in fighting for others. Some Executives have made progress in developing welfare policies, others have dedicated more time towards student entertainments and others again have achieved more success in areas of campaigns or student education policies. Regardless of each Executive’s successes and failures, the constant immutable problem that afflicted them all was this deep disconnect between the Union and the students. A failure to communicate both the successes and failures of the Union effectively leads to a lack of student engagement in Union activities, confusion with regards to the role and benefits of the Union and ultimately resentment towards a Union that students perceive as being both ineffective and pointless. These fundamental issues that have plagued both competent and incompetent Executives alike is solvable and after spending some time analysing the problem and it’s possible solutions I strongly believe I am the candidate capable of breaking the cycle of poor communication.

 

If you had to choose one point from your manifesto as your main goal, what would it be?

In Communications, my primary goal is to build a UCC Online Community through the production of regular, short and long form video content that integrates both entertainment and information. This platform would, amongst many other things, aim to develop the personality of the SU by giving it a clear voice that students can build a relationship with.

In Commercial affairs, my primary goal is to campaign alongside UCC’s Clubs & Societies for a redrafting of the colleges and the guilds regulations around alcohol sponsorship. As a non-drinker I understand the importance of ensuring events do not centre around or promote rapid or excessive consumption of alcohol, however, the current regulations are, in my opinion, far too restrictive and fail to adequately take into account the commercial interests of these student groups. If we want a mature and responsible student body we need a more mature and nuanced alcohol sponsorship policy that doesn’t restrict students in seeking funding for their events and that also guarantees the safety and wellbeing of students remains at the forefront of our minds when organising events.

 

What do you think sets you apart from the other candidates for your position?

Unlike the typical candidate who decides to run for the Student’s Union, I would consider myself a relative outsider to student politics. Bar a brief stint as Recording Secretary of the Law Society, my involvement in the Clubs, Societies and the Union itself has been quite limited.

The typical candidate, the person who has been turning up for every event, been a part of every campaign and been engaged in the activities of every Club & Societies is an undeniably passionate individual, but that candidate is often utterly clueless in understanding how to communicate to students who, unlike them, have not been involved and who have not put themselves forward and engaged in Union activities. In my experience it is that candidate who, more often then not, throws their hands up in the air in exasperation and declares “students just don’t care!”.

In order to truly understand how to communicate to students who haven’t been reached by the Union thus far, I believe you have to have been part of that silent majority of UCC students. As a member of that silent majority I have a deeper understanding than most of what is needed in order to ensure our message no longer falls on deaf ears.

 

What experience do you have that you feel will help you, if you get the position? 

When considering the role of Commercial and Communication’s Officer it became clear that three experiences of mine will be highly applicable in helping me in this position, if I am elected.

Firstly, as Recording Secretary of the Law Society I performed comedy stand-up at large scale events and for two consecutive years I was President of my school’s debating society. This performing experience leaves me a capable public speaker able to write and deliver speeches that integrate both humour and information.

Secondly, I have experience running an amateur film production studio and this has left me adequately skilled in the creation of after-movies, promotional videos and other short-form online content.

Thirdly, as part of the Irish Cancer Society’s ‘Shave or Dye’ campaign, both myself and a friend engineered a large rep. system, shaved and dyed our hair and produced online videos promoting the cause. Through our high levels of organisation two of us were able to raise 1,500 euro in the space of only 7 days.

My experiences leave me perfectly tasked for the position of Commercial and Communications Officer as I find myself a capable public speaker, with experience in online video production and proven skills in running highly organised charitable fundraising that incorporated an online marketing strategy.

 

What do you feel was the SU’s greatest success this year?

Despite my public criticism of the Union and its flawed communication practices this year’s SU has, in my opinion, been perhaps the most competent Executive in my three years in UCC. Across the board, all 6 full-time representatives have proven themselves highly effective problem solvers and passionate individuals ready at any time to fight for student interests. While I imagine other candidates have cited the amazing progress President Alan Hayes has made in developing the college policies around mental health I do consider the Union’s fight against the 10% rise in college accommodation costs as perhaps a lesser known, but equally great, success for the Union. Their firm line here with the college not only helped students reduce an unfair rent hike but demonstrated to the college that the Union is not a toothless organisation but instead one whose opinion and influence must be respected.