With only sixteen votes separating the top two candidates, Therese Collins was nonetheless the clear winner in the race to be elected UCC’s postgraduate officer for the current academic year. Collins was elected at first count, matching the quota exactly with 62 votes, in a contest where only 130 votes in total were cast.
Voting for the position commenced through an email sent out to postgraduate students on the 2nd of November, and was conducted through Google Docs. A PDF containing candidate profiles was also circulated at this time, and the deadline to cast a vote was set for the 10th of November.
It should be noted that the total number of votes this year showed a substantial increase on the previous year’s tally, where only 13 votes were cast, and the successful candidate, Chris McCahill, was elected on 7 votes after transfers. However, even with this substantial increase in voting, the election for Postgraduate Officer still lagged significantly in terms of turnout behind UCC’s other Students’ Union elections, despite the importance of the position for postgraduate students. The role is defined in UCCSU’s constitution (which can be found by going to uccsu.ie/constitution) as follows:
“This officer shall represent the needs and wishes of Postgraduate students. This officer will be elected by an open ballot of Postgraduate students at Postgraduate Council. This officer will serve for a year beginning from the 1st day of November and terminating on the last day of October. This officer will be the postgraduate representative on UCC’s Governing Body. This officer will provide a listening, advice and referral service for the postgraduate members.”
When compared to other officers on the SU, one could say the role essentially comprises that of Education Officer but for postgraduate students.
The Postgraduate Officer sits on many essential bodies and committees, including some of which the education officer does not. Despite the number of postgraduate enrollments steadily increasing nationally since 2013, with UCC in particular boasting over 4,000 registered postgraduate students, the position is a part-time role. This compares unfavourably to other leading Irish universities’ SUs, who have full-time postgraduate officers. Indeed, Trinity has less postgraduate students registered than UCC, but has its own Graduate Students’ Union.
There was a mention of the Postgraduate Officer elections at the most recent student council, with one postgrad saying they had not received the email. The issue, it seems, lies with the University failing to update the relevant mailing list with details of newer students.
Results in full:
Total Poll: 130
Total Valid Poll: 122
-Ali, Lolah: 7
-Collins, Therese: 62
-Tsu, Duncan: 51
Therese Collins elected on first count.