The third Student Council of the year took place on January 25th, and with 9 motions on the clár for the evening, a high tempo was set early on. The guillotine was set for 8:30pm, and due to the pace of the evening, reps were delighted to be out of Boole 1 by 8.
The Officer reports were taken as read, despite reported problems with circulation of reports. An emergency motion was received by the Council Chair, and would be discussed if there was time at the end of the meeting. Deputy President & Campaigns Officer Kate Moriarty noted that the Yes Trees UCC campaign, which had specifically appealed to her for help, had been successful, and the University was going for it. 100 trees are also to be planted across UCC’s campuses, and Ms.Moriarty was due to have a meeting with Green Campus the following Friday about it. Welfare Officer Rory O’Donnell noted that the Project Manager for the Student Hub had been chosen, but couldn’t be named publicly. Comms Officer Kelly Doherty announced that Tommy Tiernan would be doing a gig in March in aid of R&G Week, and had not charged the SU for this gig. President Eolann Sheehan later noted that the team had already raised approximately €19,000 for R&G Week, and were aiming at a record-breaking total of €60,000. This number reportedly includes costs of running events. All Officers also noted that anyone considering running for SU positions to contact the outgoing Officers for advice or information.
A large amount of the motions put before Council were fairly non-contentious. Indeed, seven of the nine pre-proposed motions passed unanimously without debate, as was the emergency motion. Motion One regarded mental health week, and mandated the SU to hold a mental health week in term two if one wasn’t held in term one. Proposed by final-year Psychology student Laura O’Connor, it noted that the motion was crucial in the context of the rising rates of suicide and increasing pressure on mental health services in Cork. The motion was deemed non-contentious via a procedural motion from the floor, and thus passed. Motion Two mandated the SU to stock & sell sanitary products in the SU Welfare office. It was noted that they already do, and the proposer (Sinead Ryan, Accounting IV) noted this was a mandate for future SUs. Following the passing of a procedural motion to amend the motion to include a clause to promote the sale of sanitary products, the motion was passed unanimously. The third motion regarded student attitudes towards alcohol, and mandated the SU to run campaigns about alcohol consumption and to run discussion forums. Motion was passed unanimously. The fourth motion was about formalising academic feedback across all departments, and following an amendment for clarification (to clarify that it was feedback from lecturers to students) the motion was passed…unanimously. Motion Five was jointly proposed by the Chairs of most of the UCC political party societies, and mandated the SU to run tenancy rights campaigns, as well as lobbying the government. The motion was voted to be non-contentious, and passed without debate.
Following the fifth motion, a brief break was taken, as reps ate pizza and listened to USI Southern Area Rep Niamh Murtagh discuss USI’s work. The sixth motion was the most controversial of the nine, and was to impeach the Council Secretary, Michael O’Keeffe. Proposed by Sinead Ryan (Acc IV), the motion wished to impeach the Council Secretary over alleged-incompetence this year. Throughout the proposing speech, an almost tangible tension could be felt in the room, which materialised when the motion was not seconded by the floor. Postgraduate Officer Chris McCahill proposed a procedural motion to suspend the motion on the grounds that the SU Constitution did not allow for impeachment of Council Reps, and that the passing of this motion would require a referendum to amend the Constitution before action could be taken. He also noted that because of the personal nature of the motion, further debate could cause offense. SU President Eolann Sheehan clarified that the SU had contacted their legal representatives, who backed up the claims of unconstitutional nature of impeachment. While he also noted that if the wording was changed from ‘impeachment’ to ‘removed’ it may go forward, Mr.McCahill’s procedural motion to suspend had to be voted on; this vote was passed, and the motion itself was suspended. Motions Seven & Eight regarded mandating the SUs to run campaigns on substance abuse and eating disorders respectively, and both were deemed non-contentious and passed. Motion Nine regarded the use of gendered language in Council, and optional pronoun use. While everyone in the room seemed to be in favour of the spirit of the motion, the exact wording of it was bizarrely controversial. The motion was withdrawn by the SU, with the view that it will be proposed at the next council as an addition to Council Standing Orders.
With around an hour left before the guillotine, the emergency motion that had been proposed was brought up. This motion regarded a University policy to not allow students to change their names on official college documents without possessing a deed poll. Council agreed to debate the motion after AOB had been discussed. Amendments were made to the wording of this motion, and as it was noted that Trinity already allow for these changes without need of a deed poll, the motion was passed unanimously.
It was also noted during AOB that space for a Brookfield Common Room had finally been set-aside, awaiting furnishing; however, no timeline for completion has been given. Incoming President Patrick O’Shea will also speak to reps at the next Council on February 22nd in the Western Gateway Building.