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Students’ Union Election: Candidate Watch – President

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 two candidates for the position of President: Bea McCarthy and Ben Dunlea.

 

Bea McCarthy

What made you choose to run for this position?

I decided to run for the position of Students’ Union President because of my past experience on the Union as Entertainments Officer, because of my experiences on two Quality Reviews of two different departments within UCC and my six month placement for my degree last year. The experience as Ents Officer gave me an insight into the Union and the changes that a Union can bring about, the Quality Reviews gave me a clear view of the academic issues facing students across the University and my placement gave me the confidence and professional experience I felt was required for this role.

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

My main goal would be to introduce monthly mindfulness and wellbeing workshops. I cannot emphasize enough the benefits of mindfulness and I want all students to learn how to practice it on a regular basis.

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

I feel I have the professional experience outside of the University to offer to the Students’ Union as a result of my placement and industry experience, allowing me to have a level of perspective and maturity to bring to the role.

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

Having the ability to take a step back, take a minute to think and then proceed is something that I have developed over my time in UCC and I think I can bring that to the role.

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

To be honest, what haven’t this years SU done well? I think their greatest success has been the continuity, stability and determination that they have brought to the Students’ Union. If I were to pick one stand out aspect it is the development of the mental health policy working group that will bring the issues that face students and their mental health to the fore whilst also engaging with university staff to ensure university buy-in.

Ben Dunlea

 What made you choose to run for this position?
Having spent a year on the SU before it gave me an incredible opportunity to see the day-to-day role of the Students’ Union President and see how the Union can make a real change in students’ lives. Throughout that year I saw a number of issues affecting students that I hoped to have an opportunity to work towards solving but found myself consumed with the work of my role as Entertainments Officer at the time. Nearing the SU election that year I found myself urged to run for President to work towards change but felt I was neither mature enough nor educated enough on some of the issues to run. It is only now having learned lessons through experience and researching issues that I could seek to put myself forward for election.

If you had to choose one point from your manifesto as your main goal, what would it be?
There’s of course a number of issues mentioned in my manifesto that I’d love to have the opportunity to work towards solving but to expand upon existing counselling services in the University would be my main goal for the year. This years Union have done an outstanding job on bettering the existing services but I think they would agree that we still have a long way to go to get to a point where the services are able to efficiently deal with the current student demand. My main aim would be to acquire funding via the Student Charges and Fees Forum to provide capital to the counselling services for investment in staffing, facilities and any other needs they may have. With plans for a portion of Student Health to be moved from it’s current location I would lobby the university to ensure that this newly vacant space is given to counselling to expand their services.

What do you think sets you apart from the other candidates in your position?
To be truthful this question really shines a light on the similarity between myself and Bea’s experience with the Students’ Union. We were both Entertainments Officer on the Union in the past and each had our own notable achievements during those years. For this reason, I think we must look at experience outside of the Union and outside of the University to see what sets us apart. Outside of student life I believe my experience working in managerial and marketing roles in the passed with nightclubs and now with one of Irelands largest entertainment groups will provide me with invaluable real-world skills that will be directly applicable to the role of Students’ Union President.

What experience do you have that you feel will help you, if you get the position?
I firmly believe that my experience on the SU before will allow me to bring my ideas and policies to fruition for the benefit of the student body – as well as helping my fellow SU members to do the same. My time as Ents Officer opened my eyes to changes that can be made both within the SU and among all students, and with the lessons I’ve learned along the way I’m confident in my ability to make these changes happen as President.

What do you feel was the SU’s greatest success this year?
This years SU made a lot of progress in multiple areas of student life such as improving communication between the SU and students as well as bringing more students back onto campus during RAG week. In my opinion though the most notable achievement of their’s was the allocation of 2-3 hours in the counselling services schedule a day dedicated to drop-ins. This means that when the counselling services opens in the morning they have 2-3 hours in their scheduled free for any students who decides they need to speak to some that day. This in my eye’s is an incredible step forward with counselling as many students who seek counselling are often only in the mood to talk there and then. If given an appointment for 2 or 3 weeks time they may not arrive as they may no longer be as willing to talk about what is on their mind. This initiative is incredibly progressive and Is sure to better the lives of countless students.