Instructions for this process
  • Below you will find the list and full text of all the motions proposed to Congress 2019.
  • Below that you will find the priority ballot form, which should be filled in by the President of your students’ union.  Only one form will be accepted per member organisation.
  • To use the form you should fill in all the requested details and click the box beside the name of up to 20 proposed motions you would like to prioritise for debate and renewal into the policy file for another three years.
  • Then click ‘register’ and the results will be sent to USI’s Congress Director.  An email receipt will then issue to you.
  • All motions will be discussed.  This ballot simply selects the order in which they will be placed on the order paper in their sections.
  • All votes are equal.  If a motion gets more priority votes, it will go towards the top of the list.
Motions before Congress

Table of Contents

 

International Affairs

 

IA 19 – 1         Non EU International Students

Proposed By NUI Galway Students’ Union

 

Congress notes:

Within the confines of a severely underfunded Higher Education system, many institutions are looking to internationalise as a means to increase fee income.

Congress condemns:

International students being used as a source of revenue, and the fact that there are not adequate supports in pace for international students who study here.

Congress notes with concern:

Non EU international students are often excluded from funding pots, for example, funds for Students with Disabilities and Field trip funds.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to lobby the Department of Education and skills for funding streams to include non EU international students.

 

Equality

EQ 19 – 1        Supporting Student Parents and Carers

Proposed By Ulster University Students’ Union [UUSU]

Congress Notes:
  • The significant number of students in third level education in Ireland who have dependant children or other caring responsibilities.
  • The additional barriers facing student parents & carers which often interfere with their academic career and limit their scope to engage outside of the classroom.
  • The childcare costs incurred by student parents which normally cannot be fully met by grants which they are eligible for.

In spite of this, many institutions do not have sufficient services and facilities in place to support those with caring responsibilities such as creche facilities and funding support, and do not fully consider the needs of student parents in the coordination of timetables.

Congress Believes:

It is imperative upon students’ unions and USI to support the interests of student parents and carers and help to support them throughout their academic career. Individual MOs can make more progress on this issue locally, when they work collectively on this issue.

Congress Mandates:

The Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to produce guidance notes for MOs on how to further improve the experience of student parents & carers in their institutions, focusing on areas such as class timetabling, childcare support and inclusivity of events.

 

EQ 19 – 2        The abolishment of MSM blood donation deferral period

Proposed By: Waterford IT Students’ Union

Congress notes:

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) needs 3,000 donations a week to supply 71 hospitals nationwide. Regular blood donations by a sufficient number of healthy people are needed to ensure that safe blood will be available whenever and wherever it is needed. Blood transfusions are needed for women with complications of pregnancy, many complex medical and surgical procedures and for those undergoing radiation or chemotherapy to name a few.

Congress also notes:

The IBTS have set strict guidelines for those who eligible to donate to ensure that all donations are safe to use and to protect donors and recipients.

Congress further notes:

The lifetime ban on gay men donating blood to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) was lifted in January 2017 and replaced with a 12 month abstinence deferral period which means that a man who last had sex with another man (MSM) more than 12 months ago is now be able to donate blood if he meets the other blood donor selection criteria.

Congress notes with concern:

Eligibility decided on sexuality is extremely discriminatory and no one should be denied the right to donate blood based on their sexuality.

Congress therefore mandates:

The VP Equality and Citizenship campaign for the abolishment of the deferral period to ensure that MSM who meet all other eligibility criteria will be eligible to donate blood in Ireland.

EQ 19 – 3        Accessibility audits

Proposed By NUI Galway SU

 

Congress notes:

Many campuses are inaccessible in many ways to students with disabilities. Examples of this include physical infrastructure such as ramps and working lifts etc. as well as not having clear markings across campus for students with visual impairments.

 

Congress further notes:

A lack of proper facilities can act as an ongoing barrier to students with disabilities towards completing their education.

 

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to work with AHEAD to develop an accessibility audit template for campuses, which can be given to MOs to carry out across their own campuses.

 

EQ 19 – 4       Hate Crime legislation

Submitted By NUIG Students’ Union

 

Congress notes:

Post the introduction of the Prohibition to incitement of Hatred act 1990, very little legislative changes have taken place in Ireland to further protect and defend minority groups from acts of hate crime.

 

Congress further notes:

The Irish Council of Civil Liberties report The Lifecycle of a Hate Crime: Country Report for Ireland, launched in July 2018, found that Ireland has significant gaps in Irish law, policy and criminal justice practice regarding acts of discrimination against minorities, which go largely underreported. Ireland currently is one of a small number of EU countries that does not have specific laws around dealing with hate crimes.

 

Congress acknowledges:

As we grow as campus communities, diversity is reflected in our student population more and more. Students from non traditional backgrounds may find their access to education restricted by such acts.

 

Many students from minority groups face discrimination; in particular, members of the Trans Community, students with disabilities, and those from Ethnic minority backgrounds can find themselves the targets of hate crime. This affects students across a range of issues of accommodation, transport, online interactions and many other areas of life.

 

Congress mandates: The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to ensure there is adequate student representation involved at a national level for any legislation being drafted.

 

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to lobby for hate crime legislation to be enacted in Ireland

EQ 19 – 5       Gender Equality

Proposed By IT Carlow SU

Congress Notes:

The lack of policy in relation to transgender, non-binary and intersex students, and gender identity/expression inclusivity within higher education. Research from LGBTI Ireland Report (2016) found that transgender, non-binary and intersex people face additional challenges in their day-to-day lives such as being referred to/as by the wrong pronoun or gender and this can have an immensely negative impact on a person’s mental health.

Congress Believes:

We need to lead the way in supporting transgender, non-binary and intersex students within higher and further education.

Congress Mandates:

VP Equality and Citizenship to develop a campaign in conjunction with relevant organisations such as ShoutOut, BeLonG To and TENI to support Students’ Union Officers in running a transgender, non-binary and intersex awareness and inclusivity campaign on campus for both staff and students which should include information packs, posters, workshop materials and leads to further resources.

Congress Further Mandates:

USI VP for Equality & Citizenship to gather and circulate all relevant HEI and SU policy relating to transgender, non-binary and intersex gender identity and expression policies.

 

EQ 19 – 6       International Students Access to Multi Re-Entry Visa

Proposed By Dublin IT SU

 

Congress Notes:

The large number of international students that come to Ireland every year to study, but are only in receipt of a single-entry visa.

 

Congress further Notes:

the challenges in being granted a multi-entry visa in Ireland, which restricts students entering and leaving the country.

 

Congress Regrets:

That this has a negative impact on students seeing family and friends whilst  studying abroad.

 

Congress Believes:

The importance of welcoming international students to Ireland to add to our already diverse and inclusive student environment.

 

Congress Mandates:

The VP Equality and Citizenship to lobby the Department of Justice and Equality and the Garda National Immigration Bureau for easier access to the multi-entry visa for international students.

 

EQ 19 – 7       Supporting Students with Religious Beliefs and Rituals

Proposed By Dublin IT SU

 

Congress Notes:

All MO’s have a very diverse community of student members who have specific religious beliefs and rituals.

 

Congress Mandates:

The VP for Equality and Citizenship to provide elected officers with information on how best to support students who have religious beliefs and rituals. This may include lobbying for improved facilities, catering services and supports.

 

EQ 19 – 8       Disability Awareness and Annual Conference

Proposed by: Vice President for Equality and Citizenship

Congress notes:

Reports released by the Association for Higher Education Access & Disability (AHEAD), of which USI is a board member, finds that while numbers of students with disabilities participating in higher education continues to rise, significant barriers remain.

Congress​ ​notes:

The Union of Students in Ireland is committed to removing the stigma from all disabilities, challenging perceptions and encouraging all members of our society to take a positive attitude towards understanding the nature of disability and overcoming prejudices.

A key part of this ongoing work can be done through student engagement and campaigns throughout the year, including a national-level event, to create a space for networking, dialogue, and empowerment to leadership roles.

Congress​ ​mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to roll out a campaign informing students of many different disabilities and creating awareness of supports for students with disabilities.

Congress further mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to organise a one day conference and networking event for students with disabilities before the end of April in each academic year.

 

EQ 19 – 9       Students in Direct Provision:

Proposed by: Equality and Citizenship Working Group

Congress commends:

The work done to date by the Union of Students in Ireland and students’ unions across the country towards ending the inhumane system of Direct Provision and working to protect and support students living in Direct Provision in their institutions.

Congress notes:

More and more asylum seekers are entering third level education, whether through access routes or Institution of Sanctuary scholarships. It is of great concern that College of Sanctuary scholarship students can be faced with deportation orders when they are in the middle of their studies.

Congress applauds:

The work done by DCUSU in particular around the Save our Shepherd campaign, and the incredible success of that campaign.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to lobby the Department of Justice to take a person’s student status into special consideration when in the asylum process.

 

Congress also mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship  to devise a national strategy on what to do in the case of a student being faced with a deportation order, and to develop materials and resources around this for Students’ Union officers.

Congress further mandates:

The  Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to lobby the Minister for Education to extend domestic fee status to students who are asylum seekers across all third level institutions.

 

EQ 19 – 10     Equality Strategy 2019

Proposed by: Equality and Citizenship Committee

Congress notes:

The area of Equality and Citizenship is extremely broad and expands into many different aspects of the work of the Officer Board. For this reason, it is important that there is a roadmap to assist the work of the Union of Students in Ireland in how to best ensure the brief is effectively carried out, to the best ability.

Congress mandates:

The adoption of the proposed Equality Strategy 2019.

 

Irish Language

 

IL 19 – 1         Semester 1 Seachtain na Gaeilge

Proposed By IT Tallaght SU

Congress Notes:

The hard work and emphasis put into Seachtain na Gaeilge during Semester 2 of the Academic year.

Congress further Notes:

Due to the timing of Seachtain na Gaeilge and annual SU elections, these two sometimes clash for many MO’s which can mean Seachtain na Gaeilge gets put to one side.

Congress Believes:

Seachtain na Gaeilge is an important national campaign that should also be delivered throughout the year.

Congress Mandates:

The Leas-Uachtarán don Ghaeilge to run a Semester 1 Seachtain na Gaeilge campaign, including a roadshow to highlight and celebrate our national language.

IL 19 – 2         Irish language: Use your Cúpla Focail

Proposed By NUI Galway Students’ Union

 

Congress commends: The great work done by the LÚ Don Ghaeilge this year with the focal an lae on social media, and how this has encouraged a more mainstream approach to the Irish language.

 

Congress regrets:

Many people have Irish, but don’t make use of the language.

 

Congress mandates:

The LU don ghaeilge to roll out a ‘Use your cupla focail’ online campaign

 

IL 19 – 3         Cearta Teanga / Language Rights

Rúin Ón Coiste Cultúrtha

 

Tugann an Comhdháil faoi deara:

Go bhfuil neart plé sna meáin faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla.

Tuigeann an Comhdháil

Go mbíonn daoine ar gearán faoi easpa cearta teanga go minic, agus go raibh feachtas an-éifeachtach (#nílsécgl, #faighdofada) eagraithe ar líne.

Mar sin, sainordaíonn an Comhdháil

Gur cheart don Leas-Uachtarán don Ghaeilge tacú le feachais faoi na Cearta Teanga agus go gcaithfidh an Leas-Uachtarán don Ghaeilge dul i dteangmháil le hOifig an Coimisinéir Teanga chun nasc a chruthú leo.

Congress Notes

The constant media attention surrounding the Irish Language Act, and the upcoming Official Language Bill.

Congress Understands

There is regular cause for complaint due to the lack of language rights, with a very successful online campaign (#faighdofada, #nílsécg)

Congress Mandates

The Leas-Uachtarán don Ghaeilge to support campaigns about language rights, and to contact the office of an Coimisinéir Teanga in order to build a connection.

IL 19 – 4         Na Táillí Gaeltachta / Gaeltacht Fees

Rúin Ón Coiste Cultúrtha

 

Tugann an Comhdháil faoi deara:

Go gcaithfidh na hábhair oidí tréimhse a chaitheamh sa Ghaeltacht chun clárú leis an gComhairle Mhúinteoireachta

Anuas air sin, tugann an Comhdháil faoi deara

Go raibh feachtas éifeachtach eagraithe in 2018 (#GaelFees)

Tuigeann an Comhdháil

Go bhfuil an costas a bhaineann le na cúrsaí seo ró-ard agus go mbíonn na hábhair oidí faoi bhrú maidir leis an gcostas. Chomh maith leis sin bhí maoiniú ann roimh 2012 chun cabhrú leis an gcostas.

 

Mar sin, aisghaireann an Comhdháil

12 AA 6

15 GA 3

Mar sin, sainordaíonn an Comhdháil

Gur cheart don Leas-Uachtarán don Ghaeilge forbairt a dhéanamh ar an bhfeachtas #GaelFees in éinteacht le Conradh na Gaeilge agus go gcaithfidh an Leas-Uachtarán don Ghaeilge stocaireacht a dhéanamh faoin gcostas.

Congress notes

Student teachers must spend time in the Gaeltacht in order to register with the Teaching Council

Congress further notes

There was an effective campaign organised in 2018 (#GaelFees)

Congress understands

The cost of these courses is very high, putting student teachers under financial pressure. There was funding available for these fees before 2012.

Thus, Congress repeals

12 AA 6

15 GA 3

Therefore, Congress mandates

The Leas-Uachtarán don Ghaeilge to continue lobbying on the Gaeltacht Fees and to develop the #GaelFees campaign further

 

IL 19 – 5         NUS-USI Irish Language Taskforce

Rúin Ón Leas-Uachtarán Don Ghaeilge

 

Congress Notes

The formation of the NUS-USI Irish Language Task Force in 2018/2019

Congress Further Notes

The training opportunities provided to Irish language Activists in 2019

This motion thus repeals

14 G 4

 

Congress Mandates

The Leas-Uachtarán don Ghaeilge to provide continued support for the NUS-USI Irish Language Taskforce, member organisations and facilitate training when needed

 

IL 19 – 6         Student Teacher Campaign

Rúin Ón Leas-Uachtarán Don Ghaeilge

 

Congress Notes

The teacher supply shortage in Ireland and the high cost of teaching courses

Congress Further Notes

The benefit of data produced from the USI Student Teacher Report in 2017/2018

Congress Mandates

Officer board to review the data from the Student Teacher Report and expand the existing online forum for student teachers

 

IL 19 – 7         NUS-Cymru

Rúin Ón Leas-Uachtarán Don Ghaeilge

 

Tugann an Comhdháil faoi deara:

An obair atá ar siúl sa Bhreatain Bheag chun na Cearta Teanga a chur chun cinn

Anuas air sin, tugann an Comhdháil faoi deara

Go bhfuil NUS-Wales agus na Coláistí sa Bhreatain Bheag ag déanamh an-iarracht chun na Cearta Teanga a chur chun cinn

Mar sin, sainordaíonn an Comhdháil

Gur cheart don Leas-Uachtarán don Ghaeilge dul i dteangmháil le NUS-Wales, na coláistí sa Bhreatain Bheag, an Coimisinéir Teanga agus tuairisc a scríobh chun forbairt a dhéanamh ar scéim teanga AMLÉ

Congress Notes

The work taking place in Wales in order to promote Language Rights

Congress Further Notes

The hard work done by NUS-Wales and affiliated colleges in order to promote Language Rights

Congress Mandates

The Leas-Uachtarán don Ghaeilge to contact NUS-Wales, affiliated colleges and the Language Commissioner, create a report on findings in order to develop the USI Language Scheme

 

 

Citizenship

 

CZN 19 – 1     Introduction of Students in Leadership Campaign

Proposed By IT Tallaght Students’ Union.

Congress recognises:

The importance of students in leadership and students being given the tools, training and equal opportunities to these resources regardless of gender, sexuality, religion, race or creed.

Congress Acknowledges:

The work that has been done on the Women in Leadership campaign to date and what the campaign has done for women in leadership roles across the country.

Congress further recognises:

That students in leadership roles in colleges do not have an equal opportunity to avail of training and resources that students who are eligible to attend Women in lead do.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to create a new campaign, network and training for all students in leadership.  The same level of training, support and resources that currently exist in women in leadership should aim to create this all inclusive and diverse students in leadership campaign.

 

 

CZN 19 – 2      Diversity in Leadership

Proposed By: Letterkenny Institute Of Technology Students’ Union, St. Angela’s College, Sligo Students’ Union, Institute Of Technology, Sligo Students’ Union.

Congress notes:               

The massively positive impact of the Women in Lead and Pink Training events have had on the numbers of self-identifying women and members of the LQBTQAI+ Community in leadership positions within our Students’ Union and recognises there is still much to do in order to eradicate inequalities experienced by these groups.

Congress further notes:

Students from ethic groups, mature students, students with disabilities, lone parents and carers, students from Further Education and students in direct provision and asylum seekers are underrepresented in positions of leadership within our institutions and a focus on an intersectional campaign inclusive of all students within the Irish Education system.  The vision for the National Plan for Equity of Access was “to ensure that the student body entering, participating in and completing Higher Education at all levels reflects the diversity and social mix of Ireland’s population.” (National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2019, 7) This document outlined the targeted under-represented groups include:

  • Entrants from socio-economic groups that have low participation in higher education.
  • First time, mature student entrants.
  • Students with disabilities.
  • Part-time/flexible learners.
  • Further education award holders.
  • Irish Travellers

The Progress Review of the National Access Plan and Priorities to 2021 outlined an increase in the number of students within the HE sector from these under-represented groups has increased. With an emphasis on encouraging students from these groups entering Higher Education there needs to be a focus on encouraging these students into positions of Leadership within our Students’ Unions structures.

Congress mandates the Vice President for Campaigns, Vice President for Equality and Citizenship and the Regional Vice President’s:

To establish a training event similar to Women in Lead to include groups with low representation in student leadership positions. This event will be followed up with regional support and include feedback from participants to ensure the continuous growth of the training.

CZN 19 – 3     Deposit and return schemes

Proposed By NUI Galway SU

 

Congress notes with concern:

Ireland is failing to meet its 2020 carbon emission targets to combat climate change, and leaves itself open to large fines as a result.

Congress recognises:

Sustainability has been proven to be a massive student issue, this year the Student Movement was a leading force in Climate case Ireland, and SUs across the country are continuing work inside and outside their institutions on sustainability .

Congress commends:

Deposit and return schemes in many European countries. These schemes encourage people to recycle plastic in exchange for money.

Congress welcomes:

The Repack Machine in UCC allows recycling of plastic, while also raising money for UCCSU designated charities, and the positive impact this has had on their campus.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship and USI President to lobby the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment to introduce a national deposit and return scheme, and to lobby for economic supports for the introduction of such schemes.

CZN 19 – 4     Diversity in Leadership

Proposed By Dublin City University SU

Congress notes

the sucess and effectiveness of women in leadership series on women in politics and society

Congress believes

representation of minors groups is struggling

Congress mandates

vp for equality and citizenship to setup diversity in leadership series to tackle this!

 

CZN 19 – 5     Diversity in Leadership

Proposed by: Border, Midlands & Western Region Group

Congress notes:

The lack of Diversity in full time elected sabbatical officers in Member Organisations of USI.

 

Congress applauds:

The fantastic job done by Women in Leadership Training and the significant work that has been undertaken by MOs in empowering women to run for leadership positions. 2018/19 sees the rewards of this with women now dominating the number of elected MO Officers.

 

Congress calls for:

More inclusivity and diversity amongst elected Students’ Union Officers.

 

Congress therefore Mandates:

The USI Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to take the template Women in Leadership and adapt it to create a weekend training event with the aim of empowering minorities to run for leadership positions.

 

Congress therefore Repeals:

15 EQ 1

14 EQ 1

 

CZN 19 – 6     Irish Nationality and Citizenship

Proposed by: Vice President for Equality and Citizenship

Council notes:

In 2004, 79% of the public voted in favour of a constitutional amendment which would remove the automatic right to citizenship for children born in Ireland. The following was inserted into Bunreacht na hÉireann,

 

Notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution, a person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, who does not have, at the time of the birth of that person, at least one parent who is an Irish citizen or entitled to be an Irish citizen is not entitled to Irish citizenship or nationality, unless provided for by law.

 

Council further notes:

That this constitutional amendment leaves many who were born here and who have been resident in Ireland throughout their lives, facing an uncertain legal future and in some cases, the threat of deportation.

Council notes with concern:

Nationality and citizenship has a huge impact on accessing education, considering the financial barriers facing those when classified as international students, although they were born in Ireland and have lived in the state since.

Council therefore mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to lobby for provisions to be made by the Oireachtas for jus soli citizenship and to support bills brought through the Oireachtas which would improve access to education for those living in Ireland.

 

CZN 19 – 7          Referendum on the Extension of Presidential Voting Rights
Proposed by: Vice President for Equality and Citizenship
Congress notes

The upcoming referendum on the extending Presidential voting rights to Irish citizens living outside of the Republic of Ireland.

Congress recognises

That Irish citizens, regardless of their location, should have the right to vote for their nation’s head of state.

Congress mandates

USI Officer Board to campaign in favour of extending Presidential voting rights to those living outside of the Republic of Ireland.

 

Union Organisation

UO 19 – 1        USI in the North

Proposed By Ulster University Students’ Union (UUSU)

Congress Notes:

The long-established trilateral agreement which entitles students, studying in Northern Ireland to be represented by NUS UK and USI, through its’ principal representative body NUS-USI, with the former acting as managing partner for NUS-USI.

An estimated 200,000 of USI’s 374,000 members are NUS-USI members of which approximately 160,000 come from FE colleges. The Further Education & Training Strategy, passed by Congress in 2018 sets out a direction of how USI ought to interact with FE members in the North.

Despite this, there is a lack of consistency in how USI engages NUS-USI members in its’ work with FE members rarely being included in USI campaigns.

Congress Further Notes:

Recent changes to NUS UK’s operations have resulted in a reduction in staff support for NUS-USI, with representation now being provided by one full-time officer, supported by two full-time staff members.

Congress Believes:

The reduced staff support puts significant strain on the NUS-USI President’s capacity to represent and campaign on behalf of their 200,000 members in the North.

In light of this, it is imperative for USI to recognize its’ role in supporting the interests of its’ NI members.

Congress Mandates:

USI Officer Board to consult with NUS-USI to further extend its’ engagement with members in the North, with each portfolio officer aiming to incorporate NUS-USI and its’ members in at least one relevant campaign per year.

USI Portfolio officers to work collaboratively with the NUS-USI President and their counterpart members of the NUS-USI REC (Regional Executive Committee), where applicable, to support campaigns and events being run by NUS-USI.

USI Officer Board to consult with NUS-USI in extending its prominence within NI student affairs more generally.

 

UO 19 – 2       USI Strategic Plan 2020-2025

Proposed By Trinity College Dublin SU

 

Congress notes:

The cyclical nature of student representative terms leads to a regular change in priorities and shifts in focus of the national movement. This often weakens the ability for the movement to gather momentum on the issues which lie at the core of the student movement.

Congress further notes:

Changes made to Union structures are often made without strategic forethought.

Congress understands:

Strategic planning is an organisational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the organisation’s direction in response to a changing environment.

Congress therefore mandates:

The VP Campaigns and the President, in consultation with National Council, devise a strategic plan for the Union of Students’ in Ireland to run from 2020-2025, and for this plan to be ratified by Congress 2020.

Congress further mandates:

A working group of National Council be established to oversee and inform the development of the strategic plan.

Congress further mandates:

The President to publish an annual progress report on this Strategic Plan and present it to annual congress.

UO 19 – 3       Governance training modules

Proposed By Waterford IT Students’ Union

Congress notes:

As sabbatical officers, we are expected to sit on a number of academic and governing boards within our HEI’s and much of the discussion at these meetings can contain language that is new or uncommon for officers to have consistent knowledge of.

Congress therefore mandates:

The President to introduce new governance training modules for SUT and SUT+ which cover business and legal terminology, negotiation skills and top things for SU Officers to look out for and query during meetings. More detail on the contents of this training can be covered in the SU Officers Handbook.

 

 

UO 19 – 4       Regional Officers

Proposed By Athlone IT SU

Congress notes

The benefit of having Regional Officers on campus.

Congress further notes

The experience and direction regional officers can give to local MOs is of great benefit.

Congress mandates

The Vice Presidents for the Regions to work with MOs before the beginning of the academic year to schedule at least four visits per semester.

 

UO 19 – 5       Media Training

Proposed By Athlone IT SU

Congress notes

Students’ Union officers are regularly sought for interviews with local and national media outlets.

Congress further notes

That training for all sabbatical officers is expensive and that Students’ Unions may have to subsidies such training.

Congress mandates

The VP for Campaigns to provide opportunities for Media Training to sabbatical officers who wish to avail of such.

 

UO 19 – 6       Regional Officer Support with Mergers:

Proposed By IT Tallaght SU

Congress notes:

There are a number of mergers that are either prior or post designation in many MOs across the country.

Congress further notes:

The merging of different MOs can be a difficult and an overwhelming process. The transition from being a single entity to becoming a part of a larger establishment can be daunting not just for the overall union but the officers involved.

Congress mandates:

The regional officers to liaise with the MOs involved in mergers to ensure that each of these MOs (and officers) feels represented, well-equipped and supported going through this transition.

Congress further mandates:

The regional officers to establish a working group for MOs involved in a merger process. This would provide a space for the MOs to give advice on how they dealt with going through a merger.

 

UO 19 – 7       Progress Report on mandates

Proposed By IT Tallaght SU

Congress notes:

USI officer board has been mandated to take on a large number of motions. It is not realistic to complete all of these mandates in one year.

Congress recognizes:

The hard work being put in my officer board to complete a large amount of motions.

Congress regrets:

There is no transparent indicator of how far along these mandates have gotten.

Congress mandates:

All officer board to produce a progression report in their officer report of the development of these mandates at each National Council.

 

 

 

UO 19 – 9       Accommodating for Ents, Marketing and Commercial during SUT+

Proposed By IT Carlow SU

 

Congress Notes:

SUT+ is  additional training during the summer period of which this year amalgamated what was previously known as ‘Top Up’ training into the week too.

Congress Further Notes:

Due to this amalgamation, there was little training for officers in areas revolving Entertainments, Marketing and Commercial Activities as this was not previously catered for in the ‘Top Up’ training schedules. When all officers are present for other elements of the SUT+ schedule, it is vital to use this opportunity to increase capacity of those officers.

Congress Believes:

August is a vital time for bookings for events such as Freshers’ Week and there should be a working group and/or top up training for these officers to make proper use of the time present at the event.

Congress Mandates:

USI Officer Board to ensure that there is an Ents, Marketing & Commercial working group available at SUT+ and that there are  training events available to Ents, Marketing and Commercial officers that is relevant to the time of their work with big events approaching such as Freshers Week.

 

UO 19 – 10    Check-ins with Ents, Commercial and Marketing Working Group

Proposed By IT Carlow SU

Congress Notes:

Throughout the year, there are many events that can cause a lot of stress to the officers organising them.

Congress Further Notes:

When organising these events such as Freshers Week or Raise and Give Week, it can impact on the mental health of these officers. The officers may feel like they are the only officers in that position. Also since it is such a busy time of the year, there may be a lack of communication with officers in Ents, Marketing and Commercial Working Group, so officers may not be able to communicate with other officers in the same position.

Congress recognises

As many officers who are involved in organising events for their SU are part-time officers, working groups at National Council during term time may not be suitable.

Congress Believes:

Following the success this year, video-call check ins have proven to be greatly beneficial to  officers organising events, especially those officers that may not be able to travel to every National Council. A video-call may only take an hour out of each officers time, however it gives officers the platform to explain what they are going through and share experiences and advice.

Congress Mandates:

USI Vice President over Ents, Marketing and Commercial Working Group to ensure that these video-calls happen at as regularly as needed with a special focus the busy times such as before September and February.

Congress Further Mandates:

USI Vice President over Ents, Marketing and Commercial Working Group to have check-ins regularly to individual MO’s that have busy time periods of organising events.

 

UO 19 – 11    Re-think Campaign

Proposed By President, IT Carlow Students’ Union

 

Congress notes:

That the USI have and will continue to do incredible work on behalf of the students across Ireland. That valuable work that is performed by officer board in conjunction with MO’s can easily go un-noticed by the students that the USI represent.

Congress Further notes:

That a campaign to reconnect the USI with the students that it represents is greatly needed to bolster the great work that both officer board and local Unions do.

Congress therefore mandates:

The VP Campaigns to develop a “Re-connect” campaign to reconnect the national union to the students that they represent.

 

UO 19 – 12    USI Ambassador/s

Proposed By Institute Of Technology Tralee Students’ Union

 

Congress Notes:

The importance of student input from a grassroots level within USI. This input can then go towards helping USI see what areas need bolstering in terms of local student engagement.

 

Congress Also Notes:

That Students’ are often unaware of the work being undertaken on their behalf on a National Level, often due to the heavy workloads of individual MO’s, where the promotion and acknowledgement of USI centric activities are not often of the highest priority.

 

Congress Mandates:

The relevant regional officers to work with MO’s to recruit local a USI Ambassador/s from among the local student population to liaise with USI and MO’s on a part-time voluntary basis to disseminate the work being done by USI on a national level to their student body.

 

 

UO 19 – 14    Sponsorship Agreements and Commercial Partnerships

Submitted By: Presidents Working Group

 

Congress Notes

USI may wish to work alongside companies throughout the year based on shared interests or common goals. This can sometimes take the form of a partnership agreement between the employer and the USI which identifies their common interests and objectives. USI voted through UO5 USI Commercial Strategy last year, and this motion would add to that strategy.

Congress Further Notes

USI has engaged increasingly with commercial organisations for sponsorship of USI events and support for venue hire, catering and materials.

Congress supports and encourages

USI in seeking sponsorship in order to reduce costs and add value to events for members.

Congress Understands

That the ability to seek out and secure sponsorship offers varies depending on the project involved and the financial benefit offered and is regularly time sensitive.

Congress mandates

The USI President to engage and notify SU Presidents on potential sponsorship agreements, in order to make note of any concerns which may be raised based on previous experiences with such organisations/companies with member organisations of USI. If any conflicts arise with entering into particular sponsorship arrangements, this can be dealt with by USI early in the process.

Congress further mandates

The USI President and VP Campaigns to create a policy regarding commercial partnerships, following consultation with MO sabbatical officers and USI Officerboard. This policy would cover how partnerships are sought out, agreed upon, and the length of time they are active for.

 

UO 19 – 15    Strategic Review of USI

Proposed By Dublin IT SU

 

Congress Notes:

USI has not undertaken a strategic review of the organisation since 1999. In 2015, USI adopted a Union Development Strategy 2015 – 2020, which outlines a vision and strategy for developing not only Students’ Unions but also USI as an organisation. This has yet to be fully implemented.

 

Congress Notes with Concern:

That USI is not performing to its fullest potential and is becoming an organisation in desperate need of reform. Member Organisations continue to be frustrated at the lack of support from USI and question the value of being a member.

 

Congress Mandates:

The USI President to carry out a robust strategic review of USI including, but not limited to, areas of governance, finance, democracy, political lobbying and campaigns. The review should be undertaken by an external consultant and must take into account the opinions and concerns of all current Member Organisations, as well as potential candidate Member Organisations where possible.

 

Congress further Mandates:

That the USI President ensures that the strategic review considers the 2018 motion on USI Commercial Strategy. (2018 UO5) The review should provide a report to the December National Council in 2019 with a list of recommendations in which USI must adopt no later than July 2020.

Congress Repeals

17 NC/UO 07

 

UO 19 – 16 Deputy President Working Group

Proposed By ITBSU

Congress Notes:

USI provides working groups that act as supporting structures that helps not only guide, but also acts as a group for collaboration, idea sharing, problem solving and so much more.

 

Congress Welcomes with Concerns:

With the establishment of the Technological University Dublin Students’ Union coming into effect and with other institutes gearing up/applying for Technological University status, there is now a risk that this role will be left unsupported within our National Councils.

 

Congress Mandates:

The USI President to delegate facilitating an ongoing working group to a member of Officer Board, with a preference to the Deputy President at the time.

 

Congress Further Mandates:

The working group be titled “Deputy President Working Group” with the same rules as President’s Working Group and is a group facilitated at every National Council, which shall be composed of senior sabbatical officers to focus on individual campus issues.

UO 19 – 17    Accountability of National Council

Proposed by the Vice President for the Southern Region

 

Congress recognises

The important discussions and decisions that are made at National Council and sub-committees of National Council.

 

Congress notes

That sometimes officers are unavailable to attend National Council or all of the sub-committees of National Council and may not be aware of the discussions and decisions are taken at these meetings until documentation for the following National Council is circulated.

 

Congress mandates

USI Officer Board to ensure that all minutes from National Council and sub-committees of National Council are circulated to all National Council members within 10 working days.

 

UO 19 – 18    Part Time Officer Training

Proposed by the Southern Regional Working Group

 

Congress recognises

The importance and value of having part-time officers and executive members trained in skills that will help them to achieve their goals within their local Students’ Union and on a National Level.

 

Congress values

The training possibilities within USI and external organisations that are offered to Students’ Union part-time officers and executive members.

Congress understands

That each Students’ Union team may have different part-time officers and executive positions and that these may require different training to ensure they are equipped with the necessary skills to carry out their role.

Congress therefore mandates

The Vice Presidents for the Regions to carry out a needs-based assessment of training required for each Students’ Union part-time officer/executive member and provide training in the manner which best meets those needs.

 

UO 19 – 19    Students’ Union Officer Handbook

Proposed by the Vice President for the Southern Region

 

Congress recognises

The role of a Sabbatical Officer within a Students’ Union is a unique role. It is also very important to have a well-rounded understanding of how to approach your role as an Officer within a Students’ Union and that a well-developed crossover is extremely valuable for newly elected Officers.

Congress understands

It can be helpful to have a source of information provided to Students’ Union sabbatical Officers that cover areas they may find useful throughout their term in Office such as effective communication, event organisation, useful contacts and a jargon buster.

Congress mandates

USI Officer Board to publish a Students’ Union Officer Handbook before SUT each year to support newly elected officers.

UO 19 – 20    Inclusion of UN Sustainable Development Goals

Proposed by VP Welfare

Congress notes

That in 2015, the UN introduced the resolution, “Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, and with those, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs cover social and economic development issues including poverty, hunger, health, education, global warming, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, urbanization, environment and social justice.

Congress also notes

That much of the work currently undertaken by USI are linked to sustainable development, and hence these goals. Our work on quality education (SDG4), Mental, Sexual and Physical Health (SDG3), gender equality (SDG5) and reducing inequality (SDG10) are core to USIs values, and mission, and are directly linked to the aims of the SDGs.

Congress further notes

The added benefits of promoting our work in this framework, and the progress that is to be made by linking with other organisations with similar aims.

Congress therefore mandates

USI Officer Board to SDG-Proof its future campaigns, policies, and other relevant areas of their work.  This should involve, but is not limited to, linking our campaigns to the SDG goals, including SDG information in our social media channels (especially during campaign weeks), and working with external bodies to align our work more in line with these goals.

Congress further mandates

That USI Officer Board work with external organisations to help them better align their work with these goals.

 

 

UO 19 – 21    Give Us the Night Campaign

Proposed by Ents, Marketing & Commercial Working Group

Congress notes

The Give Us The Night is an independent volunteer group of professionals operating within the night-time industry, campaigning for positive changes to nightlife in Ireland, with particular regard to music venues. They endeavour to highlight the contribution of the night-time industry to culture, community and the economy in Ireland, and to raise the quality of nightlife to international standards. Their ongoing aim is to create debate and discussion about the licensing laws in Ireland, with a view to influencing legislative changes.

Congress notes

The importance of such a campaign to students and Students’ Unions who often play a part in an active nightlife on and off campuses.

Our members can see these effects in many areas including but not limited to;

  • Organising events: SUs liaise with promoters/venues for events who are directly affected by these laws.
  • Venue closures: Many students’ unions have expressed concerns with their local nightclubs/late night venues closing in the recent year, this may be due recent to recent increase in costs in licences.
  • Staggered closing times: after large events, safety issues can arise due to venues all closing at the same time – we would benefit from a staggered closing time and later opening hours.
  • Employment: According to the USI survey conducted relation to the hospitality sector, 70% work in Food & Beverage and a further 7% in Events.
  • Graduate employment: Many students who study courses such as music, sound engineering course would benefit from the employment opportunities that would result in the core aims of the campaign being realized.
Congress mandates

The USI Officer with responsibility for Ents, Marketing & Commercial activity to support the Give Us the Night Campaign who’s core aims are the following;

 

  • To support, nurture and reframe the conversation around nightlife and the night-time economy in Ireland.
  • To highlight the economic value and societal benefits of a diverse and vibrant Irish night-time industry.
  • To contribute to the creation of jobs and sustainable indigenous businesses within the night-time industry, and to broaden employment opportunities for those operating in the creative arts.
  • To ensure that Ireland adopts a more progressive European approach to nightlife, that reflects the wide range of lifestyles and working hours here.

 

Congress further mandates

The USI Officer with responsibility for Ents, Marketing & Commercial to lobby relevant people to ensure the student perspective is heard in the campaign.

UO 19 -22 Student Activist Groups

Proposed by the Vice President for Campaigns

 

Congress notes

The importance of students at the core of the success of USI campaigns.

Congress commends

The hard work of student activists throughout the year.

Congress further notes

That students engaged in activism reap educational benefits such as developing a greater sense of social responsibility and identity. It is also important for teaching students about the importance of democratic participation, leadership and the ability to build coalitions amongst a wide variety of individuals on campus. (Barnhardt, Reyes, 2016)

Congress mandates

For USI Officer Board to engage with student activists and grassroot campaigns, where possible, in the running of their campaigns and to actively seek out opportunities to engage with established student activist groups.

Congress further mandates

The Vice President for Campaigns to set up Facebook Groups for students who share common interests from all over Ireland to facilitate opportunities for networking, sharing information and easily mobilising students.

Congress further mandates

The Vice President for Campaigns to where possible, attend events and support the work of (what is currently known as) the All Ireland Student Activist Network and similar groups like it.

Congress further mandates

The Vice President for Campaigns to run non-violent direct action training, which is open to students, each year.

 

UO 19 – 23    Trade Unions Partnerships and Workers’ Rights Campaign

Proposed by the Union Development Working Group

Congress Regrets:

That there are incidents where abuses of workers’ rights are leaving students concerned about whether they will have enough work or finances to afford attending third-level or afford to live once they graduate.

Congress Notes:

That there is a need for students to become aware of their rights as workers. Students should have the opportunity to work enough hours to be able to afford a decent standard of living.

Congress Welcomes:

The SIPTU-USI Agreement, previously approved by the Executives of both Unions in 2013.

Congress Further Notes:

That the knowledge and resources available from SIPTU, such as the Worker’s Rights Centre, and the Irish Congress Trade Union (ICTU) are valuable resources and partners to draw upon.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Campaigns to work towards an update of the SIPTU-USI partnership as needed and promote it to members.

Congress further mandates

The Vice President for Campaigns to work towards building alliances with trade unions, similar to the SIPTU-USI agreement, in as many sectoral trade unions as possible with the aim to gain benefits for students. These partnerships should have a particular focus on free/reduced cost membership to access to the services of those trade unions that match their area of study or part-time work while studying.

Congress also mandates

The VP for Campaigns to advocate for elected Students’ Union officers and their staff to become members of a union.

Congress also Mandates:
The USI Vice President for Campaigns and USI Officer Board to endeavour to work with the relevant trade unions, and other organisations, to assess the issues that may exist and to further mobilise students on a campaign on the issues of: pay, work, and recognition of the sector.

Congress Mandates:

The USI Vice President for Campaigns to roll-out an evidence-based Workers’ Rights Awareness Campaign for students in conjunction with SIPTU and other trade unions.

Congress Also Mandates:
The USI Vice President for Campaigns and USI Officer Board to ensure that disputes, negotiations and political lobbying is inclusive of the student perspective.

Repeal
16 UO 12 Worker’s Rights Awareness Campaign

 

National Affairs

NA 19 – 1        Post March 29th: Brexit Support

Proposed By Ulster University Students’ Union (UUSU)

Congress Notes:

At time of writing, the United Kingdom is set to exit the European Union on March 29th.

If a deal is not struck, the EU would begin to trade with the UK under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

Policy previously passed by Congress in 2016 which mandated USI to ‘actively campaign to ensure that the rights and values of the student movement are not diminished or ignore’.

EU students studying in the UK and UK students studying in the Republic of Ireland have been guaranteed home fee status for 19/20, but no such guarantee has been made beyond.

Congress Believes:

No-Deal Brexit could have disastrous consequences for the lived experience of students across the island, and will lead to uncertainty around fees, research funding and cross-border mobility amongst many issues.

Any future detrimental change to fee status for ROI or EU students studying in the North or vice-versa would be entirely unacceptable.

Congress Mandates:

The Vice President for Academic Affairs to work with the Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to support MOs to work with their institution in supporting students in their colleges who have been affected by the outcomes of Brexit.

The USI President to consult with the NUS-USI and NUS-UK Presidents to lobby institutions and government against reclassification of fee status for UK and ROI/EU citizens studying in ROI/EU and the UK respectively.

 

NA 19 – 2        Integrated Education in Northern Ireland

Proposed By: Ulster University Students’ Union

 

Congress Notes:

Education in Northern Ireland is divided and typically segregated along religious lines.

There are around 70’000 empty desks in the school’s system across the North.

Divided education systems create a lack of consistency in the quality and content in the education received, particularly in areas such as religious education and sex education.

Congress Recognises:

That divided education isolates communities and does not contribute to progress towards a shared future in Northern Ireland.

That educating all children together at a primary and secondary level is an essential part of the reconciliation process and of building a society that celebrates respect, understanding and friendships across traditional divides.

Divisions cannot be expected to be healed if children are taught separately and don’t meet someone of a different belief or background to themselves until they reach university.

Congress Mandates:

That USI President should consult with NUS-USI for fully integrated education at primary and secondary level within Northern Ireland whilst respecting people’s right to choose where they send their children.

The USI Officer Board should work alongside stakeholders with similar interests and outlooks such as the Integrated Education Fund (IEF) to achieve this.

 

NA 19 – 3                    Expansion of student Leap Card

Jointly Proposed By: GMITSU And NUI Galway SU

Congress Notes:

Most colleges have a large percentage of commuting students, especially since the price of renting accommodation has increased largely over the last couple of years. Public transport in most areas is acceptable but still needs more investment especially in rural areas.

Congress further notes:

The National Transport Authority (NTA) leap card has made the price of public transport cheaper within city boundaries but not from commuter towns and cities, meaning many students who commute everyday are forced to buy tourist tickets.

Congress recognises:

Cheaper and improved public transport would incentivise more students to use it and reduce congestion and the need for housing in most HEI towns/cities. More affordable public transport options also widens the radius of housing to students further out than just city boundaries.

Congress Mandates:

The USI President to negotiate with the NTA to improve and extend the limits of use for the Student Leap Card, making access to institutions cheaper and more accessible.

 

NA 19 – 4        Protection of Employee Tips Bill Campaign

Proposed By: GMITSU

REQUIRES A TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY TO PASS

Congress Notes:

Currently in Ireland there is no legislation for ownership of tips for employees in the hospitality sector in which they work.

Congress Further Notes:

There is no legal obligation for employers to re-issue tips or to have a structure in place to ensure employees received their tips. This has allowed employers to place restrictions on the allocation of tips.

Congress Recognises:

That employers often capitalise on this fact to take tips that rightfully belong to the employee.

Congress Further Recognises:

The legislation will give transparency to where tips go, for the staff and customers who reward the tip!

Congress Mandates:

The USI President to lobby TD’s to ensure that, “the Protection of Employee Tips Bill” that’s passed through the Seanad gets through the Dáil to become Law and our students that work in that sector get what they’re owed.

 

NA 19 – 5        BusConnects – Dublin Area Bus Network Redesign

Proposed By: Vice President For The Dublin Region

 

Congress notes

The recent BusConnects Dublin Area Bus Network Redesign Consultation Process.

Congress further notes

The impact that the redesign could have on students.

Congress mandates

The Vice President for the Dublin Region to inform MOs of the Dublin Area Bus Network Redesign when it is reviewed.

Congress further mandates

The Vice President for the Dublin Region to collect feedback from MOs on the Dublin Area Bus Network Redesign and collate it in to a report.

 

NA 19 – 6        Privatisation of Public Transport

Proposed By: Vice President For The Dublin Region

REQUIRES A TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY TO PASS

Congress notes with concern

The recent privatisation of several Dublin Bus routes;

 

17a (from Blanchardstown to Kilbarrack)
33a (from Balbriggan/Skerries to Swords/Dublin Airport or Dublin City Centre)
33b (from Portrane to Swords)
45a, 45b (from Dún Laoghaire to Kilmacanogue)
59 (from Killiney to Dún Laoghaire Station)
63, 63a (from Dún Laoghaire Station to Kilternan Village)
75, 75a (from Tallaght to Dún Laoghaire)
102 (from Dublin Airport to Sutton Station)
111 (from Dalkey to Brides Glen)
175 (from Citywest to UCD)
184 (from Bray to Newtownmountkennedy)
185 (from Bray to Enniskerry)

 

Congress further notes

That in October, the National Transport Authority (NTA) announced its intention to tender out 10% of Bus Éireann routes.

Congress worries

That the continued privatisation of public transport will increase costs and have a negative affect on students.

Congress mandates

The USI President to make representations and lobby against the privatisation of public transport.

 

NA 19 – 7       Garda National Immigration Bureau Process for non-EU students.

Proposed By Postgraduate Working Group

Congress Recognises

The current process for GNIB registration for students coming from outside of the European Union is costly and repetitive.

Congress further recognises

That the high cost of renewing your application annually combined with the bureaucracy of the process is not fit for purpose.

Congress further recognises

That the travel restrictions which activate through the GNIB process are counter intuitive to a postgraduate working and academic life.

Congress mandates

The Vice President for Postgraduate Affairs to lobby the Department of Justice and Equality, and any party they deem appropriate, to reform the process and make it more accessible and equitable for students.

 

NA 19 – 8       Minimum Graduate Wage for Students Graduates

Proposed By GMITSU

 

Congress Notes:

Students are exposed to precarious work, zero-hour contracts and low wages whilst supporting themselves in college and early years of their careers

Congress Regrets:

That the increase in the cost of living and a relatively stagnant minimum wage has grown the divide between what students earn, and what students need to earn to meet the cost of living.

Congress Recognises

That a living wage provides for someone to earn the minimum required to live.

Congress Mandates

The President of USI to initiate campaigns and lobbying efforts to increase the minimum wage of graduates.

 

NA 19 – 9       Right to Higher Education

Submitted By: The USI President

REQUIRES A TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY TO PASS

Congress recognises

That there is no constitutionally recognised right to Higher Education in Ireland.

Congress welcomes

The ruling of the Irish High Court, who recognised that in order to be economically and socially prosperous, it was imperative that citizens have access to higher education.

Congress Believes that

Ireland, as a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights, should pursue improved access to Higher Education.

Congress mandates

The USI President to actively work to ensure that reference to that convention is throughout the work of the department and other agencies, and to explore ways and means to ensure

Congress Further mandates

The USI President to lobby for the Higher Education Authority Act to reflect in its wording that third level education is a public good that must be accessible.

 

NA 19 – 10     Minimum Living Wage for Students Graduates

Proposed by GMITSU

REQUIRES A TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY TO PASS

Congress Notes:

Students are exposed to precarious work, zero-hour contracts and low wages whilst supporting themselves in college and early years of their careers

Congress Regrets:

That the increase in the cost of living and a relatively stagnant minimum wage has grown the divide between what students earn, and what students need to earn to meet the cost of living.

Congress Recognises

That a living wage provides for someone to earn the minimum required to live.

Congress Mandates

The USI President to campaign for a living wage and to initiate campaigns and lobbying efforts which would be appropriate to achieve said aim.

 

NA 19 – 11     Higher Education Funding Campaign

 

Academic Affairs

AA 19 – 1        Learning Outside of the Classroom

Proposed By: Ulster University Students’ Union

Congress Notes:

The NUS and BUCS ‘Keep Wednesday Afternoons Free’ campaign which has supported Students’ Unions across the UK to lobby for dedicated time to be set aside in the academic timetable to allow students to participate in clubs, societies, volunteering and other co-curricular activity.

The plethora of research, demonstrating the link between physical activity and improved quality of life.

Congress Believes:

Participation in co-curricular activity, such as involvement with clubs and societies has a positive impact on student satisfaction and retention, and consequently on student success.

Having space in the academic calendar also improves access for students who work while studying and those with caring responsibilities.

Not having dedicated space within the academic calendar to support such activities puts increasing strain on student experience and discourages students from getting involved with University life outside of the classroom.

Congress Mandates:

USI Officerboard to research ‘Keep Wednesday Afternoons Free’ and similar schemes with a view to proposing a universal system for supporting co-curricular engagement.

USI Officerboard to undertake research on the links between co-curricular engagement and student retention and success in order to support MOs to lobby their institutions to develop timetabling that supports this activity.

 

AA 19 – 2        College Awareness Week

Proposed By: Vice President For The Dublin Region

 

Congress notes

That College Awareness Week is a national campaign which aims to promote the benefits of going to college, to help students of all ages to become college-ready and to showcase local role models.

Congress mandates

USI Officer Board to promote College Awareness Week.

Congress further mandates

Where possible, USI Officer Board to arrange a talk in a secondary school in their local area and to give advice about going to college.

 

AA 19 – 3 The creation of a Charter for Postgraduate Research Students

Proposed By The Vice President For Postgraduate Affairs

Congress Recognises

That there is a lack of consistency within the Higher Education sector on what rights postgraduate student have within their institution.

Congress Further Recognises

That there is a need for clarity on a range of issues from access to the HR department in the case of a work place dispute to access to staff printing.

Congress Notes

That the “USI/SIPTU Postgraduate Survey on Working and Economic Conditions” provides sufficient evidence in this regard.

Congress Mandates

The Vice President for Postgraduate Affairs to try to work with SIPTU to develop and promote a Charter of Rights for Institutions to sign up to, which will set out best practice for a healthy working environment for postgraduates.

 

AA 19 – 4        The creation of National Minimum Stipend rate.

Proposed By The Vice President For Postgraduate Affairs

 

Congress Recognises

That the stipend rates received by Postgraduate Research Students varies dramatically.

Congress further recognises

That the cost of living is rising whilst stipends remain relatively stagnant.

Congress mandates

That USI Officer Board lobby for the creation of a National Minimum Stipend Rate.

Congress further mandates

That this objective be pursued with the ambition of paring the National Minimum Stipend Rate to the cost of living.

 

AA 19 – 5 Postgraduate Funding in Northern Ireland

Proposed By Postgraduate Working Group

 

Congress Notes:

– The Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan in Northern Ireland which only entitles students to £5,500 towards the cost of postgraduate taught course.

– Tuition Fees for standard Masters courses in Northern Ireland are set to rise to £5,900, with many other Masters programmes costing much more but tuition fee loans will not automatically rise in line with this.

– Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK to cap tuition fee loans for Postgraduate students at £5,500, meaning that students are offered no maintenance support.

– That many postgraduate students in Northern Ireland opt for part-time study in order to be able to work alongside their degree.

– The insufficiency of the current funding system for part-time students where the loan must be split equally across years regardless of whether there are differential fees within the course, resulting in some students being left with a shortfall in their second or third year, which has led to some students being forced to withdraw from the programme.

– Due to the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive in 2017, there is currently no Minister in place to approve an increase in the tuition fee loan available to Postgraduate students or to commission any change to the current Postgraduate Funding system.

Congress Believes:

– The current funding arrangements for postgraduate students in Northern Ireland are wholly inadequate, providing no maintenance support whatsoever and not covering the entire cost of standard Master’s programmes, or any programmes with higher fees.

– A review of postgraduate funding in Northern Ireland must be commissioned, in order to improve the support offered to students there and improve the coherency of funding arrangements for part-time students.

Congress Mandates:

The Vice President for Postgraduate Affairs to work with NUS-USI and its’ members to lobby for a review of postgraduate funding in Northern Ireland with a view to increasing available support whilst continuing to strive towards lobbying for publicly funded education, accessible to all.

 

AA 19 – 6       The legal status of a PhD student.

Proposed By Postgraduate Working Group.

Congress notes

That currently PhD students are classified as students.

Congress further notes

That there are many benefits to this status, such as exemption from tax.

Congress further notes

That there are also a range of problems with this student definition. Inclusive of but not limited to; no application of a minimum wage and access to HR in the case of a dispute.

Congress acknowledges

That Ireland and the United Kingdom are an outlier when compared to other European States and our fellow members of Eurodoc.

Congress mandates

The VP for Postgraduate Affairs to continue to investigate options to secure more rights for Postgraduate students by lobbying for a change to the definition of a postgraduate, whether moving to define them as an employee or a hybrid status between employee and student.

 

AA 19 – 7       Academic Calendars and Repeat Results implications

Proposed By Waterford IT Students’ Union

Congress Notes

Academic Calendars within Higher Education Institutions can cause a lot of difficulties for students on the ground. Some Institutes may use the Academic Calendar as an instrument to move Exams to wherever they like.

Congress Acknowledges

The lack of a “perfect model” when it comes to Academic Calendars. But also, the lack of Best Practice when it comes to creating an Academic Calendar.

Congress Believes

Working with MO’s and Trade Unions to form a joint approach on Academic Calendar Best Practice would help all Institutions and SU’s make sure that the needs of students are met academically.

Congress Recognises

The release of Repeat Examinations 2-4 weeks into a semester has a serious impact on Student Mental Health and that to release Repeat Examination Results earlier may help tackle retention in HEI’s.

Congress therefore Mandates

The VP for Academic Affairs, alongside the Regional Officers, to consult with MO’s and Trade Unions to develop a best practice when it comes to Academic Calendars. The VP for Academic Affairs should also investigate the possibility of an Academic Calendar sub-committee of National Council who will report their findings to National Council.

Congress Further Mandates

The VP for Academic Affairs to investigate the effects on students having repeat examinations results released so late in term and use that to lobby the relevant bodies to get Repeat Examination results released earlier and if possible, before the semester begins.

 

AA 19 – 8        The Future of the Irish Survey of Student Engagement

Proposed By: Waterford IT Students’ Union

Congress notes

That the Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE) is now well recognised across Irish Higher Education, having launched in 2013 after a number of years of lobbying from USI to ensure colleges across the country saw the value and need to gather empirical data from students.

Congress further notes

That USI, Students’ Unions, and students have worked hard to ensure that the survey is recognised and engaged with by students, and have advocated to ensure the data is readily available for students to interpret through institutional quality assurance and enhancement processes. This further manifested itself in the development of the postgraduate research ISSE which launched in 2018.

Congress notes with concern

That despite the huge efforts of students and rising response rates that institutions are still largely failing to distil the data in to user-friendly formats, that they have not created thorough processes for involving students in interpreting the data they created and understand, and have in some cases blocked students from seeing any results.

There are also very low response rates for the survey in a number of HEI’s.

Congress believes that

ISSE data should be readily available to students in appropriate formats to allow them to interrogate the data and seeks ways to enhance and improve education in Ireland. Furthermore, Students’ Unions are often the main driving force behind promoting the survey, using their own human and financial resources, and should have a partnered role in using the data.

Congress therefore mandates

The Vice President for Academic Affairs to lobby the ISSE Steering Group to develop and publish an updated report (furthering on from 2015’s report) on the promotion of the survey, a review on how involved individual SUs are on each campus, and on how the data is being used by students in each HEI. Alongside this, a review on why response rates are low needs to be covered in this work also, which may in turn lead to a restructuring of the overall survey.

The report should contain key recommendations on the role of Students’ Unions and students in promotion and in the use of data by students for quality enhancement.

Congress further mandates

That the VP Academic Affairs explores ways to develop best practice on the use of ISSE data by students, including ways in which the data can be viewed, distributed, and engaged with by students and staff in partnership.

 

AA 19 – 9       Best practice for MO Council Meetings

Proposed By IT Tallaght SU

Congress notes:

The differing structures for Council or equivalent class representative meetings.

Congress believes:

The introduction of Best Practice in Council (or equiv.) training at SUT would be beneficial for not only MOs but also class representatives

Congress further notes:

The implementation of these structures would also benefit class representatives unfamiliar with USI Congress procedures.

Congress mandates:

The VP for Academic Affairs, in conjunction with Regional Officers, to facilitate training for structures and procedures within these bodies at SUT.

 

AA 19 – 10     Student Representation in Accreditation and PSRBs

Proposed By: Vice President Academic Affairs

Congress notes

That professional, statutory and regulatory bodies (PSRBs) oversee accreditation and standards across many programmes offered in Higher Education Institutions in Ireland, ensuring that the students who enter these programmes receive qualifications that qualify them to practice in their chosen profession.

Congress further notes

That PARN (Professional Associations Research Network) carried out a project with Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) in 2016/17 on the impact of accreditation bodies in Irish HEIs, but that the subsequent report did not contain any information on the role of student representation and voice.

 

Congress believes

That issues arising in degree programmes in disciplines such as teaching, pharmacy, and social work, to name a few, have demonstrated that the student voice is often sidelined in the setting of standards and guidelines by PSRBs.

Congress mandates

The Vice President for Academic Affairs to liaise with the QQI to ensure that student representation is recognised and strengthened in quality assurance and enhancement processes that involve PSRBs. This work should draw on international best practice and involve students from across a range of degree programmes, in order to ensure that the diversity of experiences of students is captured and acted upon.

Congress further mandates

That part of this work should be to utilise the QQI’s engagement with regulators to open dialogue on the importance of student representation in their processes and procedures.

 

AA 19 – 11     HEI Student Success Strategies

Proposed By: Vice President Academic Affairs

Congress notes

That every public HEI must have a Student Success Strategy in place by 2020 under a requirement of the HEA System Performance Framework.

Congress further notes

That USI was involved in the HEA Student Success Working Group that considered how to ensure student progression, retention, and completion became integral to the existing work on access stemming from the National Access Plan. The work of USI and others such as the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning ensured that the definition of student success was not limited in scope, and should encompass all aspects of the life of students in and outside of college.

Congress notes with concern

That HEIs seem either unaware of the need to produce such strategies, or that they do not see these strategies as a priority, despite the short amount of time required to develop them. HEIs also seem unaware that student success has a wider remit than access initiatives, encompassing (but not limited to) everything from the background and personal lives of individual students to the student services they need, to teaching and learning, extra-curricular activity, academic supports, health and wellbeing, student representation, and finances.

Congress believes

That the inclusion of student success by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning as one of four major strategic priorities and their upcoming development of national guidelines as key to overcoming these challenge.

Congress mandates

The Vice President for Academic Affairs to consult with MOs to include the student perspective on what success means, taking due regard of student diversity, and to develop tools and resources alongside the National Forum for member Students’ Unions to use to ensure that they are central to developing HEI Student Success Strategies as partners in the process.

 

Congress further mandates

That the VP Academic Affairs should consider all such relevant USI mandates that contribute to the success of students before, during, and after their time in college, in order that the work of the National Forum is fully informed by USI.

 

 

AA 19 – 12     Grade Inflation

Proposed By: Vice President Academic Affairs

Congress notes

That there is a rising conversation in Ireland and globally in Higher Education about the issue of ‘grade inflation’, which refers to improving grades across the student body.

Congress notes with concern

That the debate on grade inflation and its causes has excluded the rising standards in teaching and learning, the changing nature of assessment, the rise of student engagement and partnership, and more active attempts to improve student-centred learning and feedback.

Congress realises

That there are valid concerns on many of the potential causes for grade inflation, including a lack of clarity around grading practices and external examination, however this should not give rise to anti-student rhetoric and attempts to deny students their hard earned academic success.

Congress mandates

The Vice President for Academic Affairs to ensure that any work on grade inflation in Ireland, undertaken by any national body, includes student representation and takes full account of the changing nature of the teaching and learning environment.

Congress further mandates

That USI Officer Board challenges and counters anti-student rhetoric in the grade inflation debate.

 

AA 19 – 13     Best Practice Framework for Student Rights

Proposed By: Academic Affairs Working Group

Congress Notes:

The framework for assessment and examination guidelines vary between each Institution in Ireland. Many member organisations run a version of my rights campaign which encompasses student rights within their institution.

Congress further Notes:

Due to this, it is difficult for USI to run a national my rights campaign with generic and national student rights information. This can lead to students being unaware of their basic rights within their respective courses.

Congress Believes:

That a standardisation of assessment and examination guidelines would benefit not only the everyday student, but also the frameworks would better facilitate these students when transferring between Institutes.

Congress Mandates:

The VP for Academic Affairs to seek a framework for best practice of student rights across all institutions with the view to standardisation of these campaigns. This should be completed end of the 2019/20 academic year.

 

AA 19 – 14     Student Feedback and TUI

Proposed By Dublin IT SU

Congress Notes:

Student feedback on assessments and modules is vital to the upkeep of standards of quality assurance in all third-level institutions.

Congress further Notes:

Student feedback is vital for implementing change in the relevant module and course, in order to keep up with the development of courses.

Congress Regrets:

The reluctance of the Teachers Union in Ireland (TUI) to accept the proposed changes for effective anonymous student feedback.

Congress therefore Mandates:

The VP for Academic Affairs to lobby the TUI to review their current stance on student feedback and encourage relevant officers in member institutions to implement similar feedback structures locally.

 

AA 19 – 15     Creative Arts Networking

Proposed By National College Of Art And Design Students’ Union And  Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union

 

Congress notes:

Within many of the USI MOs there are Creative Arts courses that are underrepresented locally, as well as nationally, and offer unique issues to their students. Networking within the Creative Arts is essential for progression and identification of further development.

Congress further notes:

Graduates from Creative Arts courses tend to have fewer employment opportunities available in their field.  There is a lack of information directly available to creative arts students about specific financial supports available to them.

Congress recognises:

The need for support and promotion of such a network for creative arts students in all MOs.

Congress repeals:

2019 AA 6

Congress mandates:

The VP for Academic Affairs, and VP Campaigns to create a Creative Arts subcommittee that tackles issues that are exclusively faced by Creative Arts students. This subcommittee will consist of the VP for Academic Affairs, VP for Campaigns, at least one representative from each MO that specialises in Creative Arts, and any other representatives.

Congress further mandates:

The VP for Academic Affairs and VP Campaigns, to organise a one-day networking event for Creative Arts students to discuss and educate artists on issues such as, but not limited to, funding, internships, and taxes as a freelance artist.

 

AA 19 – 16     Erasmus Rights

Proposed By ITBSU

Congress Notes:

The large number of Students who study abroad during the course of their studies.

Congress Regrets:

Many students can feel lost or unsupported before and during their time abroad.

Congress Mandates:

The VP for Academic Affairs to lobby the European Students’ Union (ESU) to provide general resources for participating Erasmus+ institutions (e.g. info on accommodation, finance, transport links) and to investigate flaws in the current Erasmus+ system.

 

AA 19 – 17     Amendment to the FE Development Strategy

Proposed by the Southern Regional Working Group

Congress recognises

The importance of ensuring all students in both further and higher education are fully represented within the Union of Students in Ireland.

Congress applauds

The work was undertaken to develop the USI FE Strategy that was passed by Congress in 2018.

Congress mandates

The following section to be included in the FE Strategy under the “Our Further Education Members in NUS-USI” Actions Section

“Vice Presidents for the Regions to conduct study visits to FE colleges who are members of NUS-USI to learn about the structures and procedures. Vice Presidents for the Regions can use this learning in helping to develop FE colleges to become full members of USI.”

 

Welfare

WEL 19 – 1      Investment in Mental Health Care in Rural and West of Ireland

Proposed By GMIT SU

Congress Notes:

Mental Health supports and preventative ongoing care provisions are lacking in Ireland, leaving many without adequate, if any supports especially in rural and the west of Ireland. As well as this, gaps in the system and miss-information has seen students wrongly ‘transferred’ to services which aren’t capable/exist for that purpose.

Congress Further Notes:

Ongoing Preventative Mental Health services are necessary for general wellbeing and not just for emergency cases where focus currently lies, increased investment in preventative services can help us stop of the loss of student lives in disadvantaged and under resourced areas, these people are the future of Ireland.

Congress Recognises:

The need for more investment and resources in early and ongoing care and awareness, with this also assisting in reducing the pressure on emergency services

Congress Mandates:

The USI Welfare Officer to lobby for ongoing Mental Health services in the west and rural Ireland inclusive of non-emergency services as well as bringing awareness to the current situation in order to highlight the need, and aid the lobbying for this investment.

 

WEL 19 – 2      Undetectable = Untransmittable

Proposed By Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union

Congress notes:

That there has been a significant increase in HIV diagnoses within Ireland in recent years. The level of new HIV diagnoses is the highest on record to date with at least one diagnosis being issued every 18 hours on average. The stigma surrounding HIV in Ireland prevents us from tackling the epidemic and lowering HIV diagnoses.

Congress further notes:

The “PARTNER 1” and “PARTNER 2” studies showed that if someone living with HIV, who are virally suppressed from antiretroviral therapy (ART) medication, cannot transmit HIV to a sexual partner. This is known as “Undetectable = Untransmittable,” or “U=U”.

Congress mandates:

The VP for Welfare to organise a national campaign, which would be brought to every MO, to highlight and educate students on the term “U=U,” or “Undetectable = Untransmittable.” This campaign should emphasise the increasing diagnoses of HIV in Ireland and highlight the benefits of knowing your HIV status.

Congress further mandates:

The VP for Welfare to produce a document containing information about STI checks, including, but not limited to, information regarding STI’s, how, where and when to get STI checks, and how much they cost.

 

WEL 19 – 3      Local Specialised Sexual Health Services.

Proposed By Athlone IT SU

Congress notes:

The importance of students having local access to specialised sexual health services.

Congress further notes:

The student cohort is a demographic most at risk of obtaining sexual health infections/diseases.

Congress mandates:

THE VP for Welfare and the officer board to lobby the HSE and government to provide local access to Specialised Sexual Health Services in every town/city with a third level institution.

 

 

WEL 19 – 4     Financial Funding for Accommodation and Mental Health Services.

Proposed By Athlone IT SU

Congress Notes:

Crisis in relation to financial funding for accommodation and mental health services across the board, in particular relation to IOTs.

Congress mandates:

USI President to lobby the HEA and government for a relaxation on existing framework to provide grants for IOT to accommodate for crisis levels within accommodation and mental health sectors.

 

 

WEL 19 – 5     Excessive alcohol consumption campaign for secondary and third level

Proposed By: Letterkenny Institute Of Technology Students’ Union, St. Angela’s College, Sligo Students’ Union, Institute Of Technology, Sligo Students’ Union.

Congress notes

That excessive alcohol consumption has increased substantially in the past number of years as a result of binge drinking.

Congress further notes

That underage alcohol consumption has increased and has a detrimental effect on the developing student, impacting their progress to third level.

Congress is saddened    

That alcohol is responsible for 88 deaths every month in Ireland, over 1,000 deaths per year. There were 6,479 alcohol related deaths between 2008 and 2013, which accounts for 3.8% of all deaths in Ireland. Furthermore, One in four deaths of young men aged 15-39 in Ireland is due to alcohol. Liver disease rates are increasing rapidly in Ireland and the greatest level of increase is among 15-to-34-year-olds, who historically had the lowest rates of liver disease.

Congress believes:

That the issue of excessive alcohol consumption awareness can be targeted, research a possible partnership between USI, ISSU and the HSE.

Congress mandates the Vice President for Welfare, Vice President for Campaigns and the regional Vice Presidents:

To initiate contact with the HSE and ISSU to research the feasibility of a joint yearlong campaign on Excessive alcohol consumption awareness. This campaign would highlight the statistics and work with MO’s to establish alcohol-free events. This campaign will have a particular focus on Fresher’s, Raise and Give weeks and Christmas events.  This campaign should be reviewed annually to ensure it meets the needs of the students.

 

WEL 19 – 6     Support for Students Addicted to Drugs and/or Alcohol

Proposed By Athlone IT SU

Congress notes

The lack of specialised supports and services for students undergoing drug and alcohol addiction.

Congress mandates

The VP for Welfare to seek partnership with a specialised drug and alcohol addiction service to facilitate a Drug & Alcohol Addiction awareness Roadshow.

 

WEL 19 – 7     Second-hand Smoke

Proposed By Dublin City University SU

Congress notes:

The danger and damaging effects second-hand smoke can have on students

Congress believes:

That college campuses should have smoke free zones.

Congress mandates:

The Welfare Officer to put together a campaign which will be rolled out to all college’s to introduce smoke free zones.

 

WEL 19 – 8     Road Safety

Proposed By Institute Of Technology Tralee Students Union

Congress Notes

The importance of Road Safety and the Road Safety Authority, including but is not limited to rolling out road safety weeks on each MO’s campus.

Congress Notes with Concern

That the Road Safety Authority do run campaigns in relation to vehicles of all types albeit more influence is placed on some more than others. Based on figures from the RSA January 2019 (the latest available at writing) from 2006-2015 on average per year 9 cyclists lose their life while 24 motorcyclists lose their lives. The RSA has information available on motorcyclists but unfortunately they don’t provide information for other road users on how to look out for motorcyclists. The need for member organisations to highlight the importance of road safety irrespective of vehicle – that all vehicles are included in their road safety week, inclusive of cars, motorcycles, bicycles etc.

Congress Therefore Mandates

The VP Welfare and relevant Regional Officers to look into collaborating with organisations such as the Road Safety Authority in promoting Road Safety (irrespective of vehicle – that all vehicles are included in their road safety, inclusive of cars, motorcycles, bicycles etc.) inclusive of all with a particular emphasis on students.

 

WEL 19 – 9     USI Cost of Living Index

Proposed By: Academic Affairs Working Group

Congress notes

That the DIT Cost of Living Guide (now the TU Dublin Cost of Living Guide) for 2018/19 indicates that the annual cost of college while living away from home is €11,829 and is €6,780 while living at home.

Congress further notes

That other colleges are attempting to put together similar guides or have lists of particular costs, include possible learning resources, in their marketing materials and websites.

Congress believes

That these guides do not necessarily portray the actual costs of living in Ireland while studying in third-level.

Congress mandates

That the USI President, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Vice President for Welfare seek meaningful ways to explore the true costs of student life today in Ireland, including through the possible commission of research, taking into account regional pressures, soaring rents, and hidden course costs.

Congress further mandates

That any new Index should act as a national guide for student budgeting and be underpinned by evidence that can be utilised in USI’s ongoing lobby efforts, including to inform the further development of the Grant Reform Paper and campaign for increased SUSI grants and other student supports.

 

WEL 19 – 10  Staff Training

Proposed By National College Of Art And Design Students’ Union And Trinity College Dubin Students’ Union

Congress notes:

That numerous students across Ireland face mental health issues, face sexuality and identity issues.

Congress further notes:

That academic staff may be the first person a student turns to with an issue relating to the aforementioned issues. Most, if not all, academic staff are inadequately trained in dealing with the aforementioned issues.

Congress mandates:

That the VP of Academic Affairs and VP for Welfare campaign for mandatory training for academic staff across the island to train them in the aforementioned issues.

 

WEL 19 – 11  Abortion Information in SHAG Packs

Proposed By ITBSU

Congress Notes:

That the USI Sexual Health, Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) packs are a greatly appreciated by MO’s.

Congress Welcomes:

The legalisation of Abortion in Ireland in January 2019.

Congress Mandates:

The VP for Equality and Citizenship along with the VP for Welfare to provide abortion information in every SHAG Pack.

 

WEL 19 – 12  Men’s Mental Health

Proposed by: Vice President for the Border, Midlands & West
Congress notes:

The importance of empowering men to speak about their Mental Wellbeing and to seek help if they face a crisis.

Congress notes with regret:

The lack of work in the area of Men’s Mental Health within USI.

Congress notes with concern:

In 2017 Ireland registered almost 400 suicides with eight out of those ten fatalities accounting for males.

Congress recognises:

How the male population of students are vulnerable to mental health crisis and the stigma attached to seeking help.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to form a year round campaign specific to empowering men to speak about their Mental Health.

Congress further mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare & Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to coordinate an action to mark International Men’s Day specific to Men’s Health.

 

WEL 19 – 13  Adoption of the Consent Strategy

Proposed by VP Welfare

Congress Recognises

The unacceptable rates of sexual harassment and sexual assault in HEIs, as well as in wider society.

Congress Agrees

That sexual consent is paramount to positive communications and relationships.

Congress Welcomes

The lobby that USI has done to introduce an infrastructure for consent in HEIs, and the subsequent, Consent in HEIs report, “Safe, Respectful, Supportive & Positive: Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment in Irish Higher Education Institutions”, of which USI were members of the inner working group writing the report.

Congress notes

That given the shifting culture, and external attitudes to consent, USI need to introduce a comprehensive strategy on how we can best support our students with these new structures.

Congress therefore mandates

The adoption of the ‘Consent Strategy’ Document

Congress further repeals

2018WEL16 Expert Consent Advisory Group

17WEL8 Consent classes

 

WEL 19 – 14  Casework Debriefing Provision

Proposed by Welfare Working Group

Congress notes

The difficult casework which officers deal with on a regular basis; and often must rely on self-coping mechanisms between periods of little support.

Congress further notes

That although working groups or spaces at NC can be useful to debrief, an OB member may not be adequately equipped to lead a facilitation session to help officers explore issues they have faced in their roles.

Congress therefore mandates

The VP Welfare to organise debriefing sessions, on the request of Welfare working group, in order to best help officers to debrief on their heavy casework. Debriefing sessions should be lead by an appropriately skilled facilitator, and also encompass coping skills that officers can use in self-care exercises.

 

WEL 19 – 15  Decriminalisation of Drugs

Proposed by VP Welfare

Congress Notes

On July 17th 2015, USI National Council formally adopted a stance that called for USI to support a call for decriminalisation of drugs, with a view to taking a similar approach to the one in place in Portugal. Following the adoption of this stance, the VP Equality and Citizenship made a submission to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality as part of their Drugs Policy Review process. In 2016, USI Congress mandated Officer Board to lobby for decriminalisation, and in 2018, Officer Board had developed connections with external expert groups to promote harm reduction campaigns and promote decriminalisation models.

Congress Notes

College is a time when many students are exposed to drugs. For many students, this exposure can happen at an even younger age. There is currently very little information being given to students at second or third level about drug consumption or risks. There is a culture of fear amongst wider society around talking about drugs in an informed and responsible manner.

Congress Also Notes

That if a student gets a conviction for personal use, this can have lifelong implications. It can

prevent a student from accessing a visa to certain countries, a job which requires Garda vetting, certain types of insurance, and can impede them from availing of further education or training. A criminal conviction also limits an individual’s chances of social mobility, which results in them becoming dependent on the state.

Congress Further Notes

On July 1st 2001, Portugal decriminalised drug use, acquisition and possession of illicit drugs when conducted for personal use as part of a comprehensive new policy. This quantity of personal use amounted to up to 10 days’ supply for personal use. The policy also included a significant expansion in drug treatment, including methadone maintenance, to help dependent users get away from injecting heroin.

Congress Believes

There is a need for health professionals, parents and educators to acknowledge the fact that young people often engage in drug use, and at the very least will be exposed to drug use at some point in their lives. Drug use cannot be tackled by policy measures which are only aimed at controlling the supply of drugs. It is futile to only have supply reduction strategies in place of more cost-effective and evidence based investments in harm-reduction and education.

Congress Mandates

Officer Board to lobby for the decriminalisation of drugs in line with the Portuguese Model. USI Officer Board should also lobby for investment into treatment and health facilities along with education about drug use and risk for young adults and those of school age.

Congress further mandates

The VP Welfare, and VP Campaigns (with the aid of Officer Board), to run an information campaign for students to educate them of the need for this reform.

Congress further mandates

The VP Welfare to provide appropriate information and supports to MOs to best understand these issues, and to promote such campaigns in their own unions, and to appropriate bodies in their own institutions.

 

WEL 19 – 16  Regional Finance & Accommodation Information Provision

Proposed by Welfare Working Group

Congress notes

That the USI Finance & Accommodation guide is a useful tool for educating students on their accommodation rights, and how to manage their finances.

Congress also notes

That given the accommodation crises, it has become more difficult to categorise accommodation information as one piece, given that different areas are hard to compare.

Congress therefore mandates

That the VP Welfare would endeavour to provide the online version of the Finance & Accommodation guide which are more region specific.

 

WEL 19 – 19  Support for Students Addicted to Drugs and/or Alcohol

Proposed By Athlone IT SU

Congress notes

The lack of specialised supports and services for students undergoing drug and alcohol addiction.

Congress mandates

THE VP for Welfare to seek partnership with a specialised drug and alcohol addiction service to facilitate a Drug & Alcohol Addiction awareness Roadshow.

 

 

Constitutional Amendments

CA 19 – 1        The Creation of a Full time PG Affairs Officer.

Proposed By The Vice President For Postgraduate Affairs.

From Article 5.12.1 Remove “in a part time capacity” and replace with the following:

 

5.12 The Vice President for Postgraduate Affairs

5.12.1 The Vice President for Postgraduate Affairs (hereinafter referred to as the VP/Postgraduate) shall have responsibility, in a part-time capacity on the Unions Officer Board, for the Union’s work on policy and engagement with postgraduate students.

5.12.2 The VP/Postgraduate shall assist the VP/Campaigns with campaigns in relation to postgraduate issues.

5.12.3 The VP/Postgraduate shall be Chairperson of the Postgraduate Affairs Committee.

 

CA 19 – 2       Officerboard Term Limits

Submitted By Trinity College Dublin SU

Delete:

5.12.1    No member of the Officer Board may serve a cumulative total of more than three years on the Officer Board. With the exception of the VP/Irish, who shall be unpaid, the other members of Officer Board shall be paid a salary decided by Finance Committee. Their term shall be from the 1st July until the following 30th of June.

Replace with:

5.12.1 No member of the Officer Board may serve a cumulative total of more than two years on the Officer Board. Members of Officer Board shall be paid a salary decided by Finance Committee. Their term shall be from the 1st of July until the following 30th of June.

 

CA 19 – 3       USI National Executive

Submitted By: USI President

With immediate effect, remove all references to:

“The Officer Board”

And replace with:

“The Executive Team”

 

CA 19 – 4       Special Focus on Higher Education

Submitted By: Presidents’ Working Group

With immediate effect, insert the following text under Article 5, section 3:

5.3.9

The USI President shall work with a special focus on matters relating to higher education, and ensure the overall objectives and mission of USI Officer Board are in line with this.

 

CA 19 – 5 Campaigns Strategy Committee

Proposed by the Vice President for Campaigns

 

Insert at Article 7: Committees and Advisory Panels

 

Amend the word ‘ten’ committees to ‘thirteen’ in 7.1.1 and 7.1.2.

 

Add ‘13. Campaigns Strategy Committee’ at 7.1.2.13

 

Add the following at 7.1.6 –

 

7.1.6 The Campaigns Strategy Committee.

The Vice President for Campaigns is to be the chair of the subcommittee.

The subcommittees function is to provide strategic leadership in the development, implementation and sustainability of year long campaigns within USI.

The campaigns to be worked on by the campaigns subcommittee are to be voted upon at the first National Council each year.

The strategies created by the subcommittee are to be drafted by the Vice President for Campaigns, and should be presented to National Council to vote upon.

The meetings of the subcommittee should take place at least quarterly, but as often as necessary determined by the chair. These dates should be set out in the USI calendar of events at the beginning of the year.

 

Administration and Finance

AF 19 – 1        Affiliation Fees Review

Submitted By: USI President

Congress Notes

In 2018 Congress inherited the authority to decide affiliation fees from National Council after the successful passage of a constitutional amendment.

Congress further notes

The concern raised by member organisations regarding the cost of affiliation fees, in particular where affiliation fees are not collected as part of a levy separate to the Students’ Union’s own budget allocation.

Congress believes

That the current affiliation model requires review and reform. The current USI affiliation fee model has not changed, or increased, in 15 years.

Congress further believes

That Congress has a responsibility to act upon its inherited authority over affiliation fees in the interest of maintaining and growing a strong National Union and encouraging those who are currently non-members to join.

Congress therefore mandates

The USI President, in consultation with Member Organisation Presidents and Finance Committee, to conduct a comprehensive review of the current affiliation model and present its findings to Congress 2020, to include an impact and value assessment of any cap or change to the current model of affiliation fees.

Congress further mandates

That in the case that the aforementioned review procedure delivers a multitude of options of reform, that these options be put before Congress 2020 floor for debate.

AF 19 – 2        Cap on USI Affiliation Fees

Proposed By Dublin IT SU

 

Congress Notes:

Last year Congress passed a Constitutional Amendment to transfer democratic determination of affiliation fees from USI National Council to USI Congress.

Congress Regrets:

There are currently a number of Member Organisations who are frustrated at the amount of affiliation fees paid to USI and the support received in return. There is also concern on the over reliance of affiliation fees as the main source of income for USI.

Congress is Aware:

There are two big Institutions that are currently not members of USI, and USI haven’t made any great effort to encourage either of them to join. It is believed that one of the many reasons for them not considering re-joining USI is due to the cost of affiliation fees.

Congress Supports:

A strong and well-structured national organisation which gains its strength from representing all students across the Republic of Ireland from all the affiliated colleges that see value and benefit in being affiliated to USI.

Congress therefore Mandates:

The USI President to implement a staggered reduction in USI affiliation fees from 1st July 2020, and a cap on membership affiliation fees effective from 1st July 2023, thereby ensuring that no member organisation pays more than €70,000 annually in affiliation fees.

 

 

 

 

 

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