Instructions for this process
  • Below you will find the list and full text of all the policy due to expire at USI 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 the ten policies 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.  An email receipt will then issue to you.
  • Policies due to expire which are not prioritised at all will not be debated at Congress, and will fall.
Policies due to expire

Table of Contents

ACADEMIC AFFAIRS & QUALITY ASSURANCE

16 AAQA 1 BTEA Reform Paper

Congress Adopts

The proposed Back to Education Allowance reform paper (Available on USI Website)

 

16 AAQA 2 Academic Calendar Committee

Congress recognises

That academic calendar arrangements, particularly in Institutes of Technology have been identified by previous meetings of Congress as problematic in many cases.

Congress also recognises

The lack of established consensus as to what constitutes “best practice” in terms of issues such as the position of exams, revised timelines for appeal, etc. This makes it difficult to proceed with existing mandates.

Congress therefore mandates

The VPAAQA to establish an ad-hoc Academic Calendar committee, to meet during at least three meetings of National Council. This group shall work to fulfil Congress policy relating to academic calendar arrangements.

Congress also mandates

The VP AAQA to report to National Council on an ongoing basis as to the group’s progress, and to submit a report on behalf of the group to the next annual meeting of USI Congress.

 

16 AAQA 3 Motion to call for a state agency to support student partnership

Congress Affirms

That student partnership is an effective, student-centric model for student engagement.

Congress Notes

The success of student partnership as a model for student engagement in international contexts, including but not limited to Scotland, Wales, and England. For each, some form of publicly funded agency for the third level sector has been established to support student engagement in the quality of the learning experience.

Congress Also Notes

Significant recent developments in Ireland in relation to student partnership, including but not limited to the outcomes of the HEA working group on student engagement, USI’s development with the HEA and QQI of a training scheme for class and school representatives, and institutional engagement with Student Participation in Quality Scotland (Sparqs).

Congress calls for

The establishment of a publicly funded agency, congruent with the Sparqs (Scottish) model, to support the third level sector in enhancing student partnership in the quality of their learning experience.

Congress repeals

Policy 12 AAQA 2

Congress adopts

The proposed USI Student Partnership Statement.

 

16 AAQA 4 Non-EU fee regulation

Congress Acknowledges

That a large number of third level institutions have responded to a contraction in state funding by endeavouring to attract students of “nonEU” fee status. These students do not qualify for the HEA “free fees” scheme and, as such, pay a much higher fee to attend higher education in Ireland.

Congress Regrets

That these students are, in effect, regarded as “cash cows” by institutions, which in many cases fail to distribute the appropriate resources to support services and student organisations to cater their activities towards a more diverse student population.

Congress Also Regrets

That these students do not enjoy a significant degree of fee level certainty, such is the wont of institutions to increase fee levels on an almost annual basis. As well as representing an issue of esteem, many non EU students from countries prioritised for recruitment take large commercial loans to fund their education in Ireland. These students are particularly affected by changes in fee level as they will have been required before starting college to budget up to six years in advance (in the case of longer courses).

Congress Asserts

That non EU students deserve, at an absolute minimum, full certainty as to their fee obligations for the entire course of their degree.

Congress mandates

That USI, as an organisation, is opposed to the current national policy of unregulated non-EU fees.

Congress also mandates

The VP Equality & Citizenship and the VP AAQA to research the effects of unregulated non-EU fees on the non-EU student population and to present a report on the issue to National Council before the end of 2016.

Congress further mandates

The President to present the findings of the research to the Higher Education Authority.

 

16 AAQA 5 Casualisation of labour amongst Postgraduate research students

Congress commends

The work of Third Level Workplace Watch in highlighting the precarious conditions and casualisation of labour within higher level education sector.

Congress further notes

The Trinity News Investigation (Thursday, Jan 28th) that highlighted that post-graduate research students are being cajoled into taking on more teaching duties without compensation.

Congress further notes

The detrimental effect this has on the abilities of these students to properly pursue their research and the impact this occurrence places upon their mental wellbeing.

Congress mandates

The VP AAQA to investigate the extent to which this occurs across the third level sector and to report the findings to National Council.

16 AAQA 6 Postgraduate Masters in Education supports

Congress Notes

Structural changes to PME (Postgraduate Masters in Education) courses in 2014. Lengthening the time of study to two years rather than one year has affected students studying the course.

Congress further notes:

That PME students do not get paid on placement, and there is no significant financial supports available for PME students during the course of their studies. Particularly since the postgraduate maintenance grant was abolished.

Congress Believes:

That PME students work long hours on placement, while also attending college lectures and creating teaching plans. Part time employment leaves the students stressed financially as they attempt to cover cost of travel, rent and living expenses.

Congress Mandates:

The VP Campaigns to lobby the Minister for Education and Skills.

 

16 AAQA 8 Release of repeat exam results before the academic year starts

Congress Notes

that the release of repeat exam results 2 to 3 weeks into the academic year is causing Mental Health issues along with students dropping out

Congress Condemns

the late release of repeat exam results in the academic year as it causes student to drop out, and also increases the risk of bad mental health in students

Congress Believes

that if the result where out before the academic year starts this would improve retention rates and would also decrease the amount of stress that student would be suffering from.

Congress Mandates

the VP Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance to lobby the minister for Education and the TUI to get repeat results before the academic year starts.

 

 

13 AAQA 1 ACCREDITATION FOR PARTICIPATION

Congress recognises:

The importance of student participation in extra-curricular activities such as clubs & societies, Students’ Unions, volunteering and civic engagement during their time in college, and the benefits that engaging in such activity brings about in terms of the overall personal development of the student.

Congress further recognises:

The continued promotion by Students’ Unions of students getting involved in these activities, and the associated advantages which can be conferred on students who have been active in these areas when seeking future employment.

Congress notes:

The development of modules and recognition within programmes which exist in some Higher Education Institutions to accredit students for their involvement and participation in these activities, in order to facilitate, recognise and encourage their non-academic as well as academic development whilst in college.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Vice-President for Academic Affairs & Quality Assurance to research best practice across Higher Education Institutions in this area, with a view to developing USI policy on Accreditation for Participation which may be presented to the appropriate College bodies by Students’ Unions who wish to do so. To be completed by March 2014.

 

13 AAQA 2 STUDENT REPRESENTATION ON STUDENT UNIVERSAL SUPPORT IRELAND

Congress notes:

The abysmal performance of Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) in the academic year 2012/2013 with numerous quality assurance issues becoming ever increasingly   obvious over the operational existence of SUSI to date.

Congress further notes:

The benefits of the SUSI forum established this year in order to keep MOs informed on the ongoing.

Congress notes with concern:

The complete lack of student representation and input into the operational management of the primary source of financial assistance for students in third level education and future students of third level.

 

Congress therefore mandates:

The Vice-President of Academic Affairs & Quality Assurance to lobby the Department of Education and City Of Dublin Vocational Education Committee

(CDVEC) for a seat on the main governing body of SUSI in order to ensure the highest levels of quality assurance in the operations of SUSI in the years ahead.

 

13 AAQA 3 STUDENT CONTRIBUTION PAYMENT SCHEME

Congress notes:

The increasingly difficult financial challenges being faced by students.

Congress further notes:

The Student Contribution falls due at a time when students have other large financial commitments such as accommodation deposits and course materials.

Congress recognises:

The successful scheme in NUI Galway which allows students to pay the Student

Contribution in instalments.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Campaigns to lobby the Irish Universities Association and the Institutes of Technology Ireland to implement similar schemes in all universities and Institutes of technology.

 

13 AAQA 4 MIGRANT EDUCATION ACCESS

Congress notes:

That in the absence of a standardised residency test Irish third-level institutions apply an ‘EU’ fees’ category which often means migrant students pay two or three times more than typical fees charged.  Young people who have grown up in Ireland (gone to secondary school here) are denied access to financial assistance and the free fee scheme upon entry to third level.

Congress also notes:

That young people who have secured citizenship during their time in third level often unable to ‘reverse’ their fee status and have no choice but to continue to pay these high tuition fees for the remainder of their third level education. These young people are also often unable to secure higher education grants.

Congress believes:

That the Union of Students in Ireland needs to advocate for accessible education for all students and should lend support to the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland’s Migrant Education Access Campaign, including that children of non EU migrants who have come to Ireland to join their families and are here a minimum of 3 years should enjoy equality of access to third level education.

Congress mandates:

The Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship to work with the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland on their Migrant Education Access (MEA) campaign.

Congress also mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to lobby the Department of Education and Skills to take effective action to address the situation of young people who have secured Irish citizenship but are currently unable to reverse their fee status. This may require a re-examination of the criteria of access to the Free Tuition Fee Scheme currently administered by the Higher Education Authority and should result in code of practice or a revised set of criteria being outlined to all third level institutes in Ireland to ensure a coordinated, equitable and consistent response.

 

13 AAQA 5 COLLABORATIONS WITHIN ALLIANCES AND REGIONAL CLUSTERS

Congress notes:

The importance of input, engagement and involvement by Students’ Unions in the process of the future development of the Higher Education Landscape.

Congress recognises:

The considerable opportunities which exist for MO’s in delivering tangible outcomes from the process for their members by identifying best practice which exists in areas relevant to students within alliances and clusters, and lobbying for the implementation of such in all HEI’s within the alliance or cluster.

Congress mandates:

The USI President, VP for Academic Affairs & Quality Assurance and all Regional VP’s to assist MO’s in ensuring student representation is present and student input is sought in collaborative discussions taking place between HEI’s across the country, and also to assist MO’s in the identification and implementation of these best practice opportunities.

 

13 AAQA 6 GRADUATE EMPLOYABILITY

Congress notes:

That seeking employment after Third Level Education is becoming increasingly difficult for students due to economical factors and that the job hunt is becoming more competitive.

Congress further notes:

That employers across Ireland and the UK are ranking ‘general employability skills’ as one of the most important attributes they are seeking in graduates.

Congress mandates:

That the VP AAQA to develop a strategy for MO’s to promote graduate employability and the acquisition of generic and transferable employability skills amongst their students and to offer support and materials to education officers to do so.

 

13 AAQA 7 STUDENT RETENTION

Congress observes:

Recent findings which suggest that the single biggest cause of students dropping out of college in first year is selection of the wrong course.

Congress believes:

That the current delivery of Open Days and provision of information by colleges to potential students is stale and insufficient, and in need of reform.

Congress notes:

Developments in online learning and technologies in recent years and the considerable and growing engagement of secondary school students with these new technologies.

Congress mandates:

The USI VP for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance to lobby the HEA to call on HEI’s to offer online campus tours, sample lectures, and taster videos of modules and programmes for inclusion on their own individual websites and the CAO website.

 

13 AAQA 8 STUDENTS RIGHTS AND ENTITLEMENTS

Congress acknowledges:

Every student’s right to a quality experience and their involvement in established quality assurance procedures as an essential element of this experience.

Congress also acknowledges:

The integral role of Students’ Unions in informing students of their rights and safeguarding them.

Congress notes with concern:

The effect that the Employment Control Framework places on HEIs and their ability to comply with local, national and European legislation.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Academic Affairs & Quality Assurance to research best practice and put together a national perspective on student rights and entitlements by Congress 2014.

Congress also mandates:

The Vice President for Academic Affairs & Quality Assurance to include a briefing on ‘student involvement in quality assurance’ and the rights of students that are enshrined by legislation in the overall training plan for the SUT.

This mandate is to expire after a period of 3 years, if not re-approved by Congress.

 

13 AAQA 9 STRUCTURE OF WORK PLACEMENT ELEMENTS OF HEI PROGRAMS AND THEIR USE IN LABOUR ACTIVATION SCHEMES

Congress applauds:

The initiative in many Higher Educational Institutes, which embeds work placements in many of their degrees, to give students real-world application of their course content.

Congress notes:

That a correctly structured and relevant work placement can truly enhance the learning experience of the student.

Congress notes with concern:

That many work placement programs are not correctly structured, are not linked to the learning outcomes associated with the academic course and ultimately do not deliver in  the benefits to the students that they were designed to provide.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Vice President, Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance to work with Member

Organisations to accumulate current policies and practices relating to work placement programmes with a view to drafting a best practice policy that Member Organisations could use as a starting point for implementing a similar policy in their own Higher Education Institute.

This Mandate shall be fulfilled by December 2013.

Congress notes with concern:

The inadequacies of some labour activation schemes such as internships and work placements that exist in the wider community, which result in the exploitation of workers and placements that don’t offer appropriate supervision and learning opportunities.

Congress further notes:

That best practice and structures that would be developed and designed in the Higher Education

Sector, could be mirrored in labour activation schemes like Jobbridge or the proposed Youth Guarantee.

Congress further mandates:

The President and relevant Vice Presidents to engage with relevant organisations and government departments to design and develop schemes, which are beneficial to workers and builds upon best practice in the Higher Education Sector.

This mandate shall be fulfilled by December 2014.

 

13 AAQA 10        REVIEW OF CRITERIA FOR TU DESIGNATION

Congress notes:

That current USI policy mandates Officerboard to lobby Government to maintain the current criteria for the re-designation of an Institute of Technology as a Technological University, while also protecting the individual nature of Institutions as part of this process.

Congress recognises:

The considerable developments which have taken place over the past year with respect to the ever-changing nature of the HE landscape.

Congress observes:

Recent discussion documentation released by the HEA suggests that the following areas require attention following the HEA’s ‘gap analysis’:

Maintenance of L6/7 provision

Excessive/unfocused increases in post graduate provision and research

Testing the validity of international student numbers

Congress notes with concern:

That the criteria for TU designation as currently set out may incentivise HEI’s to steer their focus in a direction that is not necessarily in keeping with their own

Institutional ethos or strengths, or in the best interests of student needs and requirements.

Congress therefore mandates:

USI Officerboard to call for the criteria for designation to be reviewed taking the findings of the ‘gap analysis’ into account, and on an ongoing basis as the future HE landscape continues to shape and evolve over the next three years.

 

13 AAQA 11        STUDENT COMPLAINTS PROCEDURES

Congress observes:

Recent comments by the Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform issuing a warning that the government is looking to remove underperforming teachers, and the potential appetite for change in this area.

Congress recognises:

The difficulties faced in the current environment by colleges and Students’ Unions in dealing effectively with student complaints.

Congress acknowledges:

That best practice does exist nationally within some Higher Education Institutions in developing complaints’ procedures which are more timely and efficient, afford greater student protections and offer tangible outcomes to complaints or issues which are raised than many current practices.

Congress notes:

The re-negotiation of the Croke Park Agreement, which is taking place in 2013.

Congress therefore mandates:

Appropriate members of USI Officerboard to lobby for the development and implementation of a common national Student Complaints’ Procedure, which takes into account the importance of protecting the complainant, speedy and efficient resolution of complaints, and the principles of transparency and accountability.

 

13 AAQA 12        UNPAID INTERNSHIPS

Congress notes:

The variance of opinions and evidence on the success or lack thereof of unpaid internship schemes.

Congress further notes:

Incidences have arisen of unpaid internship schemes whereby the unpaid intern was required to do work which could not be said to improve the knowledge or skill of the intern with a view to adding valuable experience to their future career prospects.

Congress acknowledges:

That finding employment is proving difficult for many graduates given the prevailing economic conditions and that internships may be a valuable method of gaining experience while protecting oneself from the harmful effects of long-term unemployment.

 

 

Congress further notes:

The increased role that internships are likely to play in the future development of Irish graduates, particularly as proposals to develop specific internship programmes in stem subjects are being developed at national level.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance to develop a framework of good practice for internships in conjunction with various stakeholders including, but not limited to:

The Department of Social Protection and the Higher Education Authority

 

Welfare

16 WEL 1 Drug Testing Kits

Congress notes

The prevalence of a recreational drugs culture in Third Level Institutes in Ireland, and the deaths of young people as a result of drug abuse.

Congress also notes

The status quo of the ‘Just Say No’ approach to the use of recreational drugs is ineffective, and a radical change in recreational drug education is required.

Congress recognises

Policies in other jurisdictions have adopted a damage-limitation approach to recreational drug taking, such as the introduction of pill-testing stations, where one may have tablets checked for purity.

Congress also recognises

That taking recreational drugs is a highly reckless and dangerous activity, that drug testing does not clarify a drugs potency or the presence of impurities, and that the safest action to take is to never take drugs.

Congress mandates

The VP Welfare to facilitate a feasibility study into the effects, and implications of Drug Testing Kits being introduced in Third Level colleges.

 

16 WEL 3 USI Financial Representation Policy

Congress Repeals

Motions 15 WE 24, 15 AAQA 3, and 14 UO 5.

Congress Adopts

The proposed USI Financial Representation Policy

 

16 WEL 4 Support for student teachers in primary education

Congress notes

The work placements undertaken by student teachers pursuing a degree in primary education.

Congress believes

That these placements are invaluable in preparing student teachers pursuing a career in this sector and that these placements last in effect the full work day in some instances.

Congress therefore mandates

Officer Board to investigate the possibility of these students being provided with a level of support, subsidy or stipend for their placement work.

 

16 WEL 6 USI Student Accommodation Strategy:

Congress notes:

The difficulty in recent years that students face in obtaining accommodation and that for many students, having affordable and fit-for-purpose accommodation is a prerequisite for attending college. There is also a need to increase student awareness of their rights and responsibilities as tenants.

Congress applauds:

The effective lobbying by USI for the governent to introduce a Deposit Retention Scheme and a further increase on the tax exemption for the Rent A Room Relief Scheme.

Congress adopts:

The USI Student Accommodation Strategy.

Congress therefore deletes:

  • 15/wel 1 Accommodation Strategy
  • 15/wel 5 Rent a Room Relief Scheme
  • 15/wel 8 Student Housing Association
  • 15/wel 11 Full Implementation of Deposit Protection Scheme
  • 15/wel Rent Controls
  • 15/wel 22 Emergency Accommodation
  • 15/wel 23 Liaison with Student Acconpmmodation Staff
  • 13/wel 10 International Students Tenancy Disputes
  • 12/wel 2 Student Accommodation
  • 11/wel 8 Student Accommodation Survey
  • 14/NA 6 Accommodation Standards & Availability
  • 14 NA 9 Tenants’ Rights
  • 12 NA 10 National Property Services Regulatory Authority
  • 13 EM 1 Property Tax Exemption

Congress mandate The President and VP Welfare:

To follow the USI Student Accommodation Strategy and provide support and training to local officers to assist them in following through on it’s reccommendations. The strategy shall be disseminated at the beginning of the year and officers shall endeavour to review the strategy every 3 years.

 

16 WEL 8 Organ Donor Cards

Congress Notes:

Organ donor cards are free but not widely available. Many students would be happy to donate their organs after death but do not have a card due to poor accessibility.

Congress Further Notes:

Many people die while waiting for organ transplants every day. By agreeing to donate organs, a tragic death can save up to five lives and provide consolation for the person’s loved ones. Between 200 and 250 lives were saved in Ireland by organ donations and if the number of people willing to donate organs rises, many more lives can be saved or improved.

Congress therefore Mandates:

The Vice President Welfare to run a mini informative poster campaign informing students about the benefits of organ donation and where to get Organ Donor Cards.

Congress further Mandates:

That the Vice President Welfare liaises with the Organ Donor’s Association and distributes organ donation cards to all SU offices by the end of April.

That during inductions for first years and incoming students, beginning in September 2016, that they receive an organ donor card in their welcome pack.

 

16 WEL 11 Health Promotion Week

Congress Notes

That there is an increase in the number of health conditions affecting students while in College including cancers, viral infections/diseases, ongoing long term illnesses and conditions related to unhealthy eating/social habits.

Congress Further Notes:

The healthy living campaigns and mental health campaigns, and acknowledges these campaigns as being beneficial to students.

Congress Believes:

That the increase of ailments like cancers, viral infections, ongoing long term illnesses and conditions should be addressed as a concern and that information should be disseminated to members to benefit and engage students .

Congress Mandates:

The VP Campaigns and VP Welfare to work on the Healthy Living Campaign to address the aforementioned issues in relation to health which have increased within the Third Level  student demographic.

 

16 WEL 13 Gambling Awareness Campaign & Protocol

Congress affirms

Motion 15 WE 25 Gambling, which mandates the VP Welfare to “work with the relevant organisations to develop a campaign to inform students of the effects of gambling and recognising an addiction.”

Congress regrets

That, despite growing students’ union attentiveness to student gambling addiction, there is a lack of established protocol for students’ union officers for casework related to gambling addiction.

Congress therefore mandates

The VP Welfare to liaise with the relevant organisations to develop a protocol for students’ union officers to deploy in casework relating to gambling issues.

 

16 WEL 15 Migration free fees residency criterion

Congress notes

That between 2008 and 2014 Ireland had an estimated total net migration rate of 141,000 and that within this figure almost 70,000 falls within the 18-24 age bracket.

Congress believes

It is the shame of successive governments, in particular the governments in office between 2007 and 2015, that ambivalence towards mass emigration has made it in effect a political tool to offset unemployment.

Congress notes

The free fees scheme contains a residency criterion that an applicant must be resident in an EEA state for three of the five years prior to starting a course, in order to be eligible.

Congress believes

That this criterion creates a disincentive for migrant families wanting to return to Ireland by imposing an excessive financial burden to their access to higher level education in Ireland.

Congress therefore

Mandates as policy that USI is in favour of the abolishment of this criterion under this circumstance.

Congress mandates

USI Officer Board, in particular the VP AAQA and VP Equality & Citizenship, to campaign for the abolishment of the criterion and to report back to National Council bi-annually on the progress of this campaign.

 

16 WEL 17 Student Status and Department of Social Protection

Congress Notes

That the social protection system at present is undergoing extensive changes which are having many impacts of those within the system. Furthermore, Congress identifies that a lack of training, or awareness is evident around students who present themselves to the Department of Social Protection with a recent case in UCC highlights that one Community Welfare Officer stated “oh you’re a student what do I do with you?” propagating the argument that CWOs are unaware of student circumstances and schemes where a “student tag” may be applied, as this is only subject to certain schemes.

Congress Further Notes,

A case in UCC where a mature student took a deferral on medical basis and due to a erroneous decision by the CWO was not best suited to have dealt with the issue. Due to the error the student in question was forced to decide on whether to keep a roof over their family’s as the were not eligible to maintain a secondary payment of rent alliance on illness benefit after they returned from their deferral year. Ultimately they had to decide whether to drop out of college or not.

Congress Believes

A scenario where students are misplaced within the system which has a direct implication on their education and living costs which in turn could force them under the living standards of the EU, and forcing theme to consider becoming homeless is totally unacceptable and the Department should take responsibility for the errors made, but further deliver appropriate training for the protection of students.

Congress Mandates

Officer Board to lobby the Minister for Social Protection and the Minister for Education and Skills to ensure both departments liaise in order to deliver efficient training and services to ensure students who may have returned to education are met by Community Welfare Officers trained specially in the area of students who may be in higher education.

Congress Further Mandates

Officer Board to lobby the relevant government departments to ensure, regardless of schemes, that once student status, on presentation of documentation from the HEI of the student’s study, is presented, then a student tag is applied to the case of the student in question.

 

16 WEL 18 Student Personal Safety Research

Congress notes:

The importance in educating students on safety and personal safety whilst on and off campus.

Congress recognises:

The need for research to develop a campaign and training for students and officers alike in the area of personal safety that is safety focused and not victim blaming.

Congress mandates:

The VP Welfare to conduct research in consultation with external expert groups and organisations in the area of personal safety.

Congress further mandates:

The VP welfare to bring a report to national council on completion of the research.

 

 

13 WEL 14 SEXUAL VIOLENCE

Re-adopted Congress 2016, with Amendments (included).  Expires Congress 2019

Congress notes:

That the Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship has worked closely with the

Centre for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (Cosc). This relationship was instrumental in the compilation and promotion of the 2012/2013 USI ‘Say Something’ survey into students’ experiences of violence.

Congress highly commends:

The initiatives taken and work being conducted on sexual assault prevention and awareness-raising around issues of consent in a number of Member Organisations, specifically in the form of the ‘Don’t be that Guy’ campaign.

Congress believes that:

The victim is never to blame in incidences of sexual assault and/or rape. The ‘Don’t be that Guy’ campaign is particularly powerful and effective because it uses language that is directed at potential perpetrators rather than language that contributes to victim blaming and rape culture.

Congress mandates:

The Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship to work with Member Organisations to

coordinate a national campaign on sexual assault prevention and awareness-raising ‘Say Something’ survey and would preferably have an element that would coincide with around issues of consent. This campaign should be informed by the results of the USI induction and orientation periods in higher education institutions. This campaign should also be as inclusive as possible of all genders and sexualities.

Congress further mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship and all members of USI Officer Board to ensure that any campaigns conducted by USI on area of sexual violence use the appropriate language and  never contribute to culture of victim blaming or rape culture.

 

Equality

16 EQ 1 Decriminalisation of Sex Work

Proposed by VP Equality and Citizenship

Congress Notes

Sex work refers to escorting, lap dancing, stripping, pole dancing, pornography, web-camming, adult modelling, phone sex, and selling sex (on and off the street). Currently prostitution (the exchange of sexual services for money) is not illegal, but associated activities (soliciting in a public place, kerb crawling, operating a brothel) are.

Congress Notes with Concern

With the rise in living costs, the potential increase in tuition fees, the inadequacy of the maintenance grant, and various other personal reasons it is highly likely that some students do and will do sex work alongside their studies.

Congress Does Not Believe

That anyone should be forced into sex work as a means of supporting themselves and that the current system fails those it affects directly: sex workers.

Congress Applauds

In August 2015, Amnesty International voted to adopt policy to protect human rights of sex workers. The resolution recommended that they develop a policy that supports the full decriminalisation of all aspects of consensual sex work. The policy will also call on states to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and violence.

Congress Believes

That there should be far more support for sex workers, both within the industry and for those looking to get out of it. Sex workers should be fully supported when seeking to leave the industry, especially through the opportunities to re-skill or upskill through education.

Congress Believes

Decriminalisation would ensure that sex workers feel able to report unsafe clients or violence at work without the worry of criminal repercussions, work together for safety, and that those who wish to leave the sex industry are not left with criminal records as a result of their job.

Congress Mandates

Officer Board to support and campaign for the full decriminalisation of sex work. This is to be done through the support of sex worker organisations who work to improve the lives of sex workers across Ireland.

16 EQ 2 Decriminalisation of Drugs

Proposed by VP Equality and Citizenship

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.

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 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.

 

16 EQ 3 Equality Strategy

Proposed by Equality and Citizenship Committee

Congress Notes

The area of Equality and Citizenship is very broad, with a number of areas to be covered.

Congress Mandates

The adoption of the proposed Equality Strategy.

 

16 EQ 4 “Repeal the 8th“ Strategy

Proposed by Equality and Citizenship Committee

Congress Notes

There has been promise of a referendum to “Repeal The 8th“ amendment to the Irish Constitution in the lifetime of this government.

Congress Mandates

The adoption of the “Repeal the 8th“ Strategy.

 

16 EQ 5 Traveller Support

Proposed by Equality and Citizenship Committee

Congress Notes

There is policy for USI to campaign for the recognition of Traveller ethnicity, but there is need for more to be done in this area to adequately support Traveller students.

Congress Notes

The needs of potential and current Traveller students are specific and that officers do not receive any training in how to support these students.

Congress Mandates

The VP Equality and Citizenship to ensure there is support training provided to sabbatical officers.

Congress Further Mandates

The VP Equality and Citizenship to map out supports and services available for Travellers in third level institutions so as to allow for the development of a support network and reaching out campaign.

 

 

13 EQ 1      ADVOCATING FOR STUDENT SERVICES THAT ARE INCLUSIVE REGARDING THE REGISTRATION AND TREATMENT OF LGBT STUDENTS

Congress acknowledges:

Every student’s right to equal access to Student Services in third level institutions.

Congress believes:

That Students’ Unions have a vital role to play in advocating for the recognition and realisation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights. This can include educating students’ services and ensuring that LGBT persons have opportunities to express and disclose their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression when registering, accessing and availing of these services.

Congress notes with concern:

The negative impact that limited registration forms can have on people who identify as an orientation or gender identity which is not included on forms and that this can reflect             a lack of awareness of these issues by service providers. This may cause students to feel isolated when registering, accessing and availing of services on campus and this may deter students from using these services.

Congress mandates:

The Vice president for Equality and Citizenship to work with Students’ Unions to advocate that students’ services teams, including healthcare professionals and counsellors, are educated and inclusive regarding LGBT rights and experiences. This may include organising and/or providing training if necessary.

Congress also mandates:

The Vice president for Equality and Citizenship to advocate that registration forms for accessing students’ services acknowledge diverse identifications in the fields of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression e.g. “what is your preferred pronoun” rather than “Him/Her Male/Female”.

 

13 EQ 3      EQUITY OF ACCESS TO USI NATIONAL COUNCIL

Congress commends:

The Vice President of Equality and Citizenship on the creation of an equality policy for National Council.

Congress notes:

There have been issues raised this year regarding the equity of access of officers to National Council based on the scheduling of council dates.

Congress further notes:

The equality policy was voted on and passed unanimously at National Council but there has been no implementation by National Council of this policy since it was passed.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President of Equality and Citizenship to review the equality policy when they first enter office. This review should take into consideration what measurements need to be in place to ensure the equality policy is put into action. The review also needs to ensure that USI National Council is accessible as possible to the officers elected nationally to represent their students.

 

13 EQ 5      NEGOTIATION OF MATURE STUDENT/ESTRANGED STUDENT FINANCIAL ACCOUNT(S)

Congress notes:

The growing financial difficulties across the board for all students.

Congress further notes:

The difficulties facing many mature students, and students that have been estranged from their parents/guardians, in gaining an indemnifier for the purposes of loan guarantor.  This would also incorporate students that are returning to education to help better themselves but have existing bad credit due to numerous extenuating circumstances. For example bad credit, mortgage arrears, job loss etc.

Congress stresses:

The USI is mandated to be a free fees organisation and should not change stance on this. The motion proposed will serve to ensure equal access to financial loans for students that need such to fund their Higher Level education.

Congress mandates:

The President and other relevant officers to engage with an appropriate lending institution(s) to negotiate an account which will ensure equal access to banking facilities regardless of age and/or domestic situations for all students.

 

13 EQ 6      SECTION 37 EMPLOYMENT EQUALITY ACT

Congress notes:

Under   current Irish legislation – Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act allows school managements to discriminate against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender employees by taking ‘reasonably necessary’ action either by firing or refusing to hire them on the basis that they ‘undermine’ the religious ethos of the denominational school.

Congress further notes:

Union of Students in Ireland is a representative body of over 275,000 students – many of whom are LGBT and many of whom feel negatively affected by this legislation.

Congress believes:

This legislation is outdated and discriminatory by nature.

Congress further believes:

Thousands of LGBT students are aspiring teachers who may feel they cannot have a fulfilling career due to this legislation. Section 37 serves as a way of making LGBT students feel uncomfortable in the workplace and deters many LGBT students from pursuing careers in the teaching sector of Ireland.

Congress mandates:

The USI Campaigns Officer and USI VP for Equality and Citizenship to actively campaign for the repeal of Section 37, raising awareness among students, and contacting the relevant bodies such as Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland and other organisations to seek and show support for the campaign.

 

13 EQ 7      EQUALITY CAMPAIGNS FOR SINGLE FATHERS IN IRELAND

Congress commends:

The good work completed by the Vice President of equality and citizenship on raising equality and citizenship issues in the public domain.

Congress notes:

The work of USI in this area sees a very positive impact on different vulnerable stakeholders nationally and internationally by highlighting the facts while fighting their cause.

Congress further notes:

Single fathers make up a segment of the students represented by USI and the voice of these students is often overlooked politically.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President of Equality and Citizenship to meet with representatives of these students and to work on a campaign to highlight their issues. This should take place in the first semester of the year.

 

13 EQ 9      USI EQUALITY POLICY

Congress notes:

That USI National Council adopted an interim Equality policy for the organisation in September

  1. This policy was drawn up by the Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship with advice from the Equality Authority.

Congress believes:

That it is important that the Union of Students in Ireland has an Equality Policy in place which states its commitment to equality and diversity and outlines the measures that USI Officer Board will take to ensure that principles of equality pervade the work of the organisation.

Congress therefore adopts:

The USI Equality Policy as adopted by the USI National Council in the 2012-2013 session.

(Put this into the Congress Pack as a policy to be adopted, not in the Clár)

USI Equality Policy

The Union of Students in Ireland is an inclusive organisation that values equality and diversity.

Services provided by the Union of Students in Ireland are available to all areas of the membership who will be supported to be equally able to access them.

As an employer, the Union of Students in Ireland will not tolerate any form of direct and indirect discrimination.

This policy is developed in line with the Equality Acts (Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2011 & Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2011) prohibiting discrimination, including sexual harassment and harassment, victimisation and reasonable accommodation for customers with disabilities.

  1. Equalities Statement:

The Union of Students in Ireland adopts the following Equalities Statement which Officers and staff and any person working with the Union of Students in Ireland is expected to support and uphold:

The Union of Students in Ireland recognises that discrimination can and does occur and that it can be direct, indirect or institutional. The Union of Students in Ireland is committed to adopting equal opportunities policies and procedures as an employer and service provider in order to combat discrimination and value diversity. The Union of Students in Ireland will not tolerate discrimination based on gender, civil status, family status, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, religion, membership of the Traveller community, gender expression, gender identity, country of origin, socio-economic background. The first nine grounds are those specifically mentioned by the Equality Acts but discrimination can occur also on other characteristics.

The Union of Students in Ireland reserves the right to add to these groups at any time.

The  Union of Students in Ireland will seek to ensure that other companies from whom it has contracted to receive goods and services are aware that this policy is in place and that these companies are expected to comply with it or add equality clauses to the contract of service. Contracts for goods and services will be suspended if the contractor engages in sexual harassment, harassment or discrimination against customers or employees of this organisation.

The Union of Students in Ireland will take measures to combat inequality where necessary based on the characteristics identified in the Equalities statement. The organisation will strive to eliminate barriers that prevent members accessing the Union’s services and will ensure that reasonable accommodation is made for students with disabilities.

The Union of Students in Ireland encourages active participation from students in relation to the characteristics outlined in the Equalities Statement.

The Union of Students in Ireland is committed to the effective communication of this policy to:

  • All staff and elected officers of USI Officer Board,
  • Member Organisations,
  • Students,
  • Business contacts

This will be done through:

  • Publication and dissemination of the policy,
  • Display of this policy on the USI website and in public areas of the organisation,
  • Reference to the policy in business contracts,
  • Reference to the policy in information

All staff employed should cooperate with the development and implementation of policies, procedures and practices to eliminate discrimination, accommodate diversity and promote equality for students. This requirement will be included in contracts of employment for all staff.

Training will be made available to all of USI Officer Board and staff in relation to the Equality Acts (Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2011 & Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2011).

The President of the Union of Students in Ireland and all of USI Officer Board has responsibility for upholding and implementing this policy.

This policy will be reviewed at the end of each academic year by USI Officer Board and any changes will be subject to approval by USI Congress.

 

13 EQ 10    COLLECTIVE BARGAINING LEGISLATION

Congress notes:

The commitment to legislating for collective bargaining agreed in the Programme for Government and the lack of movement on this.

Congress notes with concern:

The Campus.ie survey which claims that 35% of students in part time jobs feel it has negatively impacted on their studies.

Congress further notes with concern:

The United Nations’ Human Rights Council’s condemnation of the absence of collective bargaining legislation in Ireland.

Congress believes:

That every worker should have the option to join and be represented by a trade union without victimisation and that Ireland’s failure to enact such legislation is a violation of the Right to Freedom of Association and the Right to Organise.

Congress acknowledges:

That by being a member of a unionized workforce, students in part time employment are more likely to be aware of their rights as workers and therefore, less likely to be exploited. Furthermore, students are mostly employed in areas where exploitation is most common.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to lobby for the introduction of collective bargaining legislation that will lead to better working conditions for students and for this to be completed the end of 2013.

 

13 EQ 11    USI TO CAMPAIGN FOR EQUALITY BUDGETING IN IRELAND

Congress notes:

That a large body of recent research, both Irish and international, suggests that more equal societies fare better across a range of social outcomes, including education, health, crime and almost every conceivable area of human life.

Congress acknowledges:

That Equality Budgeting is an approach to economic policy-making that places equality at the centre of decisions concerning public expenditure and income. Through equality audits and impact assessments, Equality Budgeting provides information on how different sections of society are impacted by specific economic policy measures. The objective of Equality Budgeting is to ensure this information is used to reduce inequalities and to achieve the best equality outcomes for specific disadvantaged groups, but also for society at large. Over 60 countries have implemented or worked towards Equality Budgeting.

Congress notes:

With concern that while some progress was made in Ireland toward Equality Budgeting, particularly with a focus on gender, much of this was subsequently reversed with the weakening of the Gender Mainstreaming Unit in the Department of Justice since 2008, inaction on the implementation of the National Women’s Strategy, and the more general dismantling of the equality infrastructure in Ireland that has been on-going since the beginning of the economic crisis.

Congress recognises:

The 2011 TASC Report Eliminating Health Inequalities – A Matter of Life and Death, which suggests that inequality in Ireland is endemic, with 2009 figures suggesting that the top decile of Irish Society had incomes which were 11 times those of the bottom decile. The report also found a strong correlation between income levels and education levels, with those in the bottom decile most educationally disadvantaged.

Congress affirms:

Its commitment to the defence and promotion of all human rights as per the USI Constitution. The endemic inequality experienced by the citizens of this country against the achievement and realisation of the type of Ireland that the Union of Students in Ireland’s principles could lead to.

Congress believes:

That it is vitally important that the Government is always acutely aware of the long-term impact of the policies they enact.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship and all of USI Officer Board to lend their full support to the Equality Budgeting campaign in Ireland and to lobby the Irish Government to introduce Equality Budgeting for Budget 2014.

 

13 EQ 12    USI LGBT ALLY CAMPAIGN

Congress notes:

The high level of student engagement with the USI LGBT Ally initiative and the effectiveness of this initiative at raising awareness of student support for LGBT rights and also of LGBT issues in Ireland.

Congress believes:

That this initiative should be continued and expanded by working with other organisations and by seeking funding for the campaign.

Congress also believes:

That there is potential to extend this campaign into wider society, outside of higher education institutions and that USI could look to engage businesses and service providers in this campaign. The expansion of this campaign could also be extended to secondary schools.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to seek sponsorship and funding for USI’s LGBT Ally campaign.

Congress also mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to engage with and seek endorsement and/or support from the following list, but not limited to this list, in relation to the campaign:

Association of Secondary School Teachers, Ireland;

All members of the Oireachtas;

The Irish Medical Organisation;

Irish National Teachers’ Organisation;

Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy;

Gay Doctors Ireland;

Transgender Equality Network Ireland;

BeLonGTo;

LGBT Noise;

Marriage Equality;

SpunOut.ie;

The National Youth Council of Ireland;

The Irish Second-Level Students’ Union;

The Board of Irish College Societies

 

National Affairs

16 NA 1 Electoral Commission

Proposed by the Vice President for the Southern Region

Note that to pass into policy, this motion will require a two-thirds ‘supermajority’.

Congress Notes:

In Ireland there is currently no Electoral Commission.

Congress Further Notes:

That the establishment of an Electoral Commission was promised for the term of the 31st Dail , but wasn’t established in the term of government.

Congress Believes:

That setting up an Electoral Commission allows for an Independent body outside government to recommend and submit strategies to improve the electoral turnout, and Voter Registration and educate on Electoral processes.

Congress Believes:

That it is in our Interest to see the establishment of the Electoral Commission during the term of the 32nd Dáil.

Congress Mandates:

The VP Equality and Citizenship with the assistance of Officer Board to lobby members of the Oireachtas and to establish the Electoral Commission in the term of the 32nd Dail

16 NA 3 Non-EEA Student Visas

Proposed by DITSU

Note that this motion will require a simple (50%+1) majority to pass into policy

Congress notes:

That thousands of students come from overseas to study in higher education in Ireland.

Congress further notes:

That students from outside the European Economic Area can be faced with serious problems if there are delays in their visa application and registration process.

Congress notes with concern:

That there are increasing reports of delays within the system due to the inability of the Department of Justice and the GNIB to process higher numbers of student applications.

Congress further notes:

That delays in these processes can cause international students undue stress due to lack of information on their status in the country and the education system.

Congress therefore mandates:

The President, in conjunction with the Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance, to lobby the Department of Justice, Department of Education, and all other relevant bodies to ensure that such delays do not occur in the academic year 2016/17, as well as ensuring that no international student in higher education is disadvantaged by any delays that may occur.

16 NA 4 Technological Universities Bill Legislation

Proposed by DITSU

Note that this motion will require a simple (50%+1) majority to pass into policy

Congress Notes:

The exciting period occurring in the third level education sector at present with the establishment of Technological Universities in Ireland.

Congress Commends:

The Minister for Education and Skills address to USI Congress 2015, where a commitment was made for the establishment of Technological Universities in Ireland.

Congress Mandates:

The President and Vice President Academic and Quality Assurance to lobby the Department of Education and all relevant bodies/forums, to fulfil their commitment to the establishment of Technological Universities in Ireland. Furthermore, to lobby the Minister for Education and Skills to ensure that the TU Bill Legislation is passed through the Dail and Seanad stages with the recommended amendments contributed to date before December 2016.

 

 

13 NA 1     VOTES AT 16

Congress notes:

Previous mandates 11 / NA 2 which has ensured USI hold regular voter registration campaigns, 11 / NA 5 which calls for a more streamlined approach towards voter registration in the form of an Electoral Commission.

Congress further notes:

That the voting age for all national elections and referendums in Ireland is currently 18 years old.

Congress observes:

The Council of Europe has called upon its 47 member states to start the process towards lowering the electoral age to the age of 16.

Congress recognises:

That having a student population who are participating in political decisions and the voting process can be an effective lobbying tool when interacting with public representatives.

Congress believes:

That lowering the voting age in Ireland to 16 years old could improve the interaction of students with the political system and could improve their engagement with society right from the time they begin in higher education.

Congress mandates:

The VP Equality and Citizenship to lobby for the legal voting age in Ireland to be reduced to 16 years old. They should collaborate with the European Youth Forum, Spun Out and other relevant organisations where possible and interact with the Constitutional Convention. This mandate should be completed within three years or until the voting age is lowered; whichever is reached first.

 

13 NA 7     WASTE IN PUBLIC SPENDING

Congress notes with regret:

The considerable waste of public monies which in many ways has categorised the country’s recent economic crash.

Congress condemns:

The culture of greed and excess which has prevailed in many sectors of our governance and society which allowed such waste to occur.

Congress observes:

The existence of State-funded taxpayer lobby groups in other countries which act to try and ensure that public money is spent in a more prudent and efficient manner.

Congress mandates:

The USI President to call on the establishment of a similar organisation in Ireland to act            in the best interests of the general taxpayer in budgetary lobbying and discussions, and for USI to have representation on such a group on behalf of young people in Irish society.

 

Union Organisation

16 UO 1 Seanad Cultural and Educational Panel

Proposed by BMW Committee

Congress notes

That the USI is not currently represented as a nominating body of the Cultural and Educational Panel of Seanad Éireann.

Congress recognises

The benefit of being a nominating body of this panel of Seanad Éireann would give USI additional lobbying strength, and encourage candidates to engage with USI.

Congress mandates

The President to apply to have USI added to the Register of Nominating Bodies of the Seanad Cultural and Educational Panel.

16 UO 2 Further Education Officer

Proposed by BMW Committee

Congress notes

The inclusion of Further Education (FE) colleges into the USI is of a significant importance, and only lends to a stronger national Student Movement.

Congress understands

The various differences, and unique issues that FE Students, and their Students’ Unions/Student Councils face.

Congress mandates

The President to develop a feasibility study into the position of an FE Officer on the Officer Board of USI, and the role it will have in developing the role of FE Unions, Colleges, and more importantly students, in the national students’ union.

 

16 UO 4 Motion to review Dublin Region representation

Proposed by the Dublin Regional Committee

Congress notes

That, under current constitutional provisions, member organisations in the Dublin region are represented to the Officer Board by a Vice President nominated the President.

Congress recognises

That there are over 80,000 third level students in Dublin, and eight current USI member organisations.

Congress regrets that

Under this arrangement, the largest region is represented by an officer who has another fulltime role on the Officer Board. While there are obvious economies of scale associated with this arrangement, it makes difficult a fully developed relationship between Officer Board and the associated MOs.

Congress therefore mandates

The Officer Board to review the current arrangements for the representation of the Dublin region and make recommendations as to any necessary reform to the next meeting of Congress.

Recommendations should specifically address the viability of a third fulltime regional position, both at current membership levels and considering possible changes to membership.

 

16 UO 5 USI Training Strategy

Proposed by VP AAQA

Congress Adopts

The proposed USI Training Strategy.

 

16 UO 6 FE College SU participation

Proposed by VP AAQA

Congress Welcomes

The nascent USI membership of a number of students’ unions from Further Education Colleges.

Congress Asserts

That for the national students’ union to be a truly legitimate representative for Ireland’s third level student population, many more such organisations must be assimilated into the organisation.

Congress recognises

That FE students’ union representatives are fulltime students, and face a number of significant challenges to participation in USI structures.

Congress Therefore Mandates

The President and the VP AAQA to request external funding from relevant bodies to support the participation of further education students within USI. This funding shall specifically be sought to cover costs such as fees for SUT, SUT+, participation in National Council and Congress, campaign materials, and related costs to both MOs and USI.

Congress Further Mandates

The VPAAQA to conduct an informal audit of USI structures with regards the participation of Further Education student representatives therein. Recommendations arising from this audit shall be presented to the June meeting of National Council for discussion.

Congress Also Mandates

The Regional Vice Presidents to actively campaign in their regions to recruit new Further Education representative organisations.

 

16 UO 7 Completion of Mandates

Proposed by VP Equality and Citizenship

Congress Notes

There are a number of policies within the Policy Manual that have either passed their due completion date or have been completed.

Congress Further Notes

It can be very difficult to follow the Policy Manual which is not good for such a large organisation that seeks to be transparent in its operation.

Congress Therefore Mandates

When a mandate is completed it is to be noted as complete on the online version of the Policy Manual pending approval by National Council.

 

16 UO 8 USI Branding Guidelines

Submitted by: Entertainment Committee

Congress Observes:

Branding identity embodies and communicates attributes that characterise the unique positioning of USI.

Congress Notes:

That branding guidelines therefore represents an indispensable investment in USI’s future, and like any investment it requires careful management to protect it and to allow it to grow in value. Branding guidelines ensure that all elements of identity are used in a consistent, considered and effective manner and add to the professionalism of USI.

Congress Further Notes:

The use of in-house graphic designers and outsourced graphic designers in designing and publishing documents and materials and the use of the USI logo by USI, students’ unions, and other relevant stakeholders.

Congress Mandates:

Officer Board to develop, and update when appropriate, clear branding guidelines to preserve the quality of the brand mark and to be adhered to by USI.

Congress Also Mandates:

Officer Board to make these branding guidelines accessible on the USI website.

16 UO 9 Student Summit 3 Year Strategy

Submitted by: Entertainment Committee

Congress Notes:

The fundamental importance of institutional memory in establishing clarity of mission and improving the work done by USI Officer Board on long-term projects such as the Student Summit due to turnover of USI staff and officers.

Congress Repeals:

  • (15 UO12) Student Summit

Congress Mandates:

The USI Officer Board member responsible for the Student Summit to liaise with USI staff to collect feedback from attendees, exhibitors, speakers, volunteers and other relevant stakeholders in order to improve the Student Summit and form recommendations for the Annual Report to be published before July 1st of every year.

Congress Further Mandates:

The USI Officer Board member responsible for the Student Summit to form a Strategic Plan to establish core purpose, long-term goals and measurable outcomes for the Student Summit over the next 3 years which will be reviewed and revised according to each Annual Report.

16 U0 10 Student Nurses and Midwives Campaign

Submitted by: Campaigns Committee

Congress Welcomes:

Co-operation between the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), students’ unions, student nurses and midwives and relevant trade unions on the remuneration and treatment of student nurses and midwives while on placement.

Congress Notes with Concern:

The considerable problems experienced by student nurses and midwives while on placement. The issue of the grossly unfair trainee wage imposed on them. Exploitative graduate programmes, emigration, working 39 hours a week, bullying and lateral violence and burnout are emerging as other key concerns.

Congress Applauds:

The research done by USI Officer Board into the issues experienced by student nurses and midwives while on placement.

Congress Acknowledges:

From the research conducted by USI that it was found that 51.8% of student nurses and midwives feel that placement has had a negative impact on your performance in aspects of your study. 57.3% feel placement has had a negative impact on physical health while 51.9% feel placement has had a negative impact on mental health. 81.9% feel that working as a nurse or midwife led to burnout as a result of working long hours during placement. 92.5% have thought about emigrating when they qualify as a nurse or midwife. 49% have experienced bullying or harassment while on placement while 18.3% have been bullied into working longer hours while on placement. 47.9% have considered dropping out of college as a result of a negative experience while on placement.

When asked “what aspects of being a nurse and midwife would prompt you to emigrate?” 72.3% said payment was the key issue.

Congress Repeals:

(15 UO 16) Campaigning for Student Nurses

(14 EM 7) INMO

(15 AAQA 9) Lateral Violence

Congress Mandates:

The Vice President for Campaigns and USI Officer Board to strive to work with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) the relevant trade unions to mobilise students on a campaign on the issues of: pay, emigration, bullying and lateral violence.

Congress also Mandates:

The Vice President for Campaigns and USI Officer Board to ensure that disputes, negotiations and political lobbying is inclusive of the student perspective on the issue of pay and financial support.

Congress Further Mandates:

The Vice President for Campaigns to work on implementing a comprehensive evidence based campaign and programme to erase the negative culture of bullying and harassment on placement by collaborating with the INMO, relevant trade unions, governmental departments, students’ unions, hospitals and higher education institutions.

 

16 UO 11 Campaigns Feedback and Reports

Submitted by: Campaigns Committee

Congress Notes:

The wide range of campaigns run by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) as directed by the USI Policy Manual and from monitoring the social and political environment.

Congress Further Notes:

The issue of institutional memory within USI and the need to continually improve how campaigns are planned and implemented each year. The need to close a feedback loop and investigate if campaigns are achieving their set outcomes and while also measuring their effect.

Congress Mandates:

The Vice President for Campaigns to assess the impact of every campaign through modern analytic tools and to garner feedback from students’ union officers, students, partners on the campaign, other relevant stakeholders and USI Officer Board using a quantitative and/or qualitative methods for data collection.

Congress also Mandates:

The Vice President for Campaigns to devise a template for writing post-campaign reports after a campaign is complete and to circulate a post-campaign report within two months of the conclusion of the campaign to members of National Council.

 

16 UO 12 Worker’s Rights Awareness Campaign

Submitted by: Campaigns Committee

Congress Regrets:

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

Congress Notes:

That there is a need for students to become aware of their rights as workers with the existence of schemes like JobBridge, zero-hour contracts and a changing employment landscape in Ireland. 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, approved by the Executives of both Unions

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 USI Vice President for Campaigns to roll-out an evidence-based Worker’s Rights Awareness Campaign for students in conjunction with SIPTU.

 

16 UO 13 USI Membership and Partnerships

Proposed by: USI Vice President for Campaigns

Congress Observes:

That there are many organisations and membership organisations that share similar values and objectives as the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

Congress Notes:

That USI should engage with these organisations and draw on the resources that are made available through membership and partnerships such as, but not limited to: training, solidarity in campaigns, research, funding, conferences, and events.

Congress Applauds:

The partnership with SpunOut.ie and membership with the Irish Development Education Association (IDEA), Mental Health Reform (MHR), National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) and The Wheel.

Congress Mandates:

The Vice President for Campaigns (who shares responsibility with the USI President for Union Development) to actively seek out organisations to which USI could become members of or partners with.

Congress Further Mandates:

The Vice President for Campaigns to review memberships and partnerships with organisations every year and to renew USI such partnerships and memberships unless directed to the contrary by National Council.

Congress Also Mandates:

The Vice President for Campaigns with responsibility for Union Development and members of USI Officer Board to actively engage with these partnerships and membership organisations.

 

16 UO 14 USI Union Development Vision 2020 Strategy

Proposed by USI Vice President for Campaigns

Congress Re-affirms:

The role of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) in empowering and enabling individual unions to better themselves, and the importance of this role in ensuring the longevity and growth of the student movement.

Congress Acknowledges:

Article 5.6.5 of the USI constitution “The VP/Campaigns shall have overall responsibility for the coordination of Union Development, in liaison with the President and in accordance with Schedule M.”, article 5.9.1 “The Vice President for the Southern Region, (hereinafter referred to as the VP/Southern) shall be responsible for Union development and liaison in their region. They shall also be responsible for the overall direction of the work of their region in conjunction with and reporting to the Officer Board.” and article 5.8.1 “The Vice President for the Border, Midlands and Western Region, (hereinafter referred to as the VP/BMW) shall be responsible for Union development and liaison in their region. They shall also be responsible for the overall direction of the work of their region in conjunction with and reporting to the Officer Board.”

Congress Notes

The lack, heretofore, of a comprehensive, long-term strategy for Union Development with measurable, tangible goals and guidance for USI.

Congress Further Notes

The importance of having a strategy in place to guide the USI Vice President for Campaigns with the responsibility for Union Development and USI Vice President for the Southern Region, USI Vice President for the Border, Midlands and Western Region and USI President.

Congress Therefore Repeals

  • (15 UO 22) Strategic Planning
  • (15 U0 34) External Review of USI
  • (15 UO 34) Championing Strong Unions
  • (14 UO 12) Championing Strong Students’ Unions
  • (13 UO 1) On-Campus Training and Engagement
  • (13 UO 6) Institutional Memory of USI
  • (13 UO 11) USI Campus Crossover Tour
  • (12 UO 17) Crossover Training
  • (14 UO 14) Increased Support for Part-Time Officers
  • (14 UO 17) Community Engagement
  • (12 UO 6) Quality Review of USI
  • (12 UO 8) USI Publication
  • (12 UO 9) Promoting the USI
  • (12 UO 14) Communicating with Membership
  • (13 UO 7) Communication with Students
  • (12 UO 21) Social Media Strategy
  • (12 UO 16) Online Promotion and Web Development Strategy
  • (11 UO 4) Finance Guide
  • (10 UO 4) Campaign History
  • (15 NA 3) Relationships with Trade Unions
  • (13 UO 14) Affiliations Against Austerity
  • (15 UO 17) Support a Coalition of Staff and Students in 3rd Level

Congress Adopts

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Union Development Vision 2020 Strategy

Congress Mandates the Vice President for Campaigns with responsibility for Union Development:

To both follow the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Union Development Vision 2020 Strategy and assist local officers in following through with its recommendations by disseminating the strategy at the start of the year and to continue throughout the year.

 

16 UO 15 Student Sport and SSI

Proposed by Athlone ITSU

Congress Notes

That participation in sport can play an important part in the maintenance of good mental health.

Congress also notes

That sport tourism is playing an important role in the recovery of Ireland as a tourist destination.

Congress Observes

That currently the Union of Students’ in Ireland currently does not hold a position on the board of Student Sport in Ireland (SSI) formally CUSAI, the governing authority of the majority of student sports in Ireland.

Congress Mandates

That the Vice President for Welfare seek a position on the board of SSI before the end of 2016.

 

16 UO 17 Democratic Review

Proposed by the Presidents’ Committee

Congress notes:

The Union of Students in Ireland makes every attempt to be as transparent and democratic as possible in its dealings.

Congress further notes:

Even with consistent effort procedures can sometimes be overlooked or ignored.

Congress mandates:

The President (who may delegate to a  nominee) to establish a review group to carry out the following work:

  1. Review the democratic procedures of the organisation including but not limited to:
    1. Officer Board elections
    2. Committee elections & nominations
  • Oversight of all areas reviewed.
  1. Consult with members of the reviewed committees on said committees’ operations.
  2. Investigate to what extent the National Council is aware of such procedures.
  3. If necessary to make a recommendation/series of recommendations to National Council on proposed reform to be subsequently submitted to Congress for debate.

 

16 UO 18 Promoting Candidates for USI

Proposed by the Presidents’ Committee

Congress Notes

That all members of USI are eligible to run for election to USI Officer Board

Congress Further Notes

The positions on the Officer Board are predominantly sought by members of National Council and that grassroots members may not be adequately informed about the elections.

Congress Mandates

The Vice-President for Campaigns to work with students’ unions to ensure all members are informed of, and encouraged to participate in USI elections

 

16 UO 19 FE Representation

Proposed by : CDCFESU

Congress Notes

The addition of many Further Education Colleges into the Union of Students of Ireland over the past few years.

Congress Applauds

Each USI Officer Board for helping to integrate the new Students Unions into the Union of Students in Ireland.

Congress Regrets

That with the addition of Further Education Colleges, there is no structured representation for FE Colleges.

Congress Mandates

Thhe USI VP for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance to accept the responsibility of being a point of contact for Further Education Colleges alongside their other responsibilities.

 

16 UO 20 Campaign Roadshows

Proposed by IT Blanchardstown SU

Congress Recognises

That campaign roadshows can add significant value to a national campaign

Congress Further Recognises

That there is usually a high level of competition to host campaign roadshows

Congress Therefore Mandates

That members of Officer Board who are organising national campaigns featuring a roadshow shall circulate criteria for hosting the roadshow alongside the call for applications. Recognising the diverse requirements of evolving campaigns, these criteria should be bespoke to the campaign in question.

 

16 UO 21 Evaluation of USI events

Proposed by IT Blanchardstown SU

Congress Recognises

The importance of ongoing evaluation of USI’s activities, particularly largescale events with significant student engagement and financial cost.

Congress Also Recognises

The important role of feedback in improving USI campaigns and events to date. USI has demonstrated that feedback improves events when incorporated into the planning of subsequent events.

Congress Therefore Mandates

That largescale USI events and campaigns, including but not limited to the National Campaign, SUT, SUT+, Pink Training, Women in Leadership Training, largescale voter registration drives, and lobbying campaigns, shall be evaluated within two weeks of their completion. Feedback shall be conducted by the officer(s) responsible for comparative research and the officers organising the campaign or event.

Congress further mandates

That a report on the feedback received and action points for its incorporation be presented by the relevant officer to campaign participants and/or event attendees within one month of the completion of the campaign or event.

 

16 UO 22 Development of resources for class reps of part-time courses

Proposed by IT Blanchardstown SU

Congress recognises

That a number of MOs have a significant proportion of part-time students. Part-time students can often be more difficult to engage within union structures, leaving that significant proportion of the student body underrepresented.

Congress therefore mandates

The VP Campaigns, under the rubric of the union development brief, to create resources for recruiting, training, and engaging part-time student representatives and distribute them to MOs before August 2016.

 

16 UO 23 Crossover Training

Proposed by IT Blanchardstown SU

Congress recognises

The importance of an effective crossover period in preparing newly elected officers for their role.

Congress also recognises

That while some effort is made to facilitate crossover at the final national council of the year, such activities are geared towards crossover in the national movement and not at local level.

Congress therefore mandates

The Officer Board to hold a focused crossover day for new officers before they start their term. This should be used primarily to focus local officers on their roles within their respective unions.

 

16 UO 24 Postgraduate student engagement

Proposed by National Council ad-hoc Postgraduate Committee

Congress Asserts, Regretfully

That Ireland’s significant postgraduate student population is underrepresented within the national union.

Congress Recognises

That many postgraduate students have a significantly different relationship with their local students’ union and their institution to those relationships experienced by undergraduate students. As such, a specific approach to engage postgraduate students and its representatives is needed.

Congress Mandates

The VPAAQA to organise training, at least one networking event, and an online network for postgraduate representatives on an annual basis.

Congress Further Mandates

The VPAAQA to organise specific workshops for MO sabbatical officers on postgraduate issues and overcoming challenges to effectively representing and engaging postgraduate students.

Congress Also Mandates

The VP AAQA, in consultation with postgraduate students and their representatives, to develop a set of guidelines for MO engagement with postgraduate students.

 

16 UO 25 Budgeting Training

Proposed by the President, USI

Congress notes

That Students’ Unions are often in charge of the budget of their organisation.

Congress Further notes

That in some cases there is little or no support for sabbatical officers in charge of the budget.

Congress mandates

The President to facilitate the provision of on-going support to Students’ Unions in relation to budgeting and finance including the provision of training for aforementioned issues to Presidents

 

16 UO 26 Notice of requirements before campaigns

Proposed by IT Carlow SU

Congress notes

That many individual member organisations compile a lot of material for their own campaigns

Congress further notes

That many of these campaigns run in line with those ran by Officer BoardOfficer Board

Congress Mandates

That the VP Welfare, VP AAQA and VP Campaigns outline two weeks in advance, where possible, what is involved in their campaigns/roadshows and what information will be provided to member organisations as part of these campaigns to avoid unnecessary duplication.

 

16 UO 28 Students’ Union Mergers

Proposed by Cork IT SU

Congress Notes

The recent publication of the Technological Universities Bill and the implications this bill will have for Students’ Unions who will have to merge in the future.

Congress Believes

Students’ Union merger process will bring with them an added work-load for sabbatical officers within many SUs.

Congress Mandates

The USI President to nominate a member/s of Officer Board with relevant skills and expertise to liaise and support Students’ Unions in regards to mergers

 

 

13 UO 4     MOTION ON DATA PROTECTION POLICY FOR USI OFFICEBOARD AND ALL MEMBER ORGANISATIONS

Re-adopted Congress 2016.  Expires Congress 2019

Congress notes:

The delicate and sensitive nature of the information USI Officers and MO Officers receive and are in possession of on a daily basis including but not limited to casework details, documents held in confidence and documents of a commercially sensitive nature.

Congress further notes:

The need for proper guidelines so that Union officers act in accordance with various statutory obligations.

Congress therefore mandates:

The USI President, in consultation with other USI Officers, to manage the development of a template USI ‘Data Protection Policy’ which can be adopted by all MOs.

Congress further mandates:

The USI President to issue the MOs the guidelines on the registration process with the Data Protection Commissioner and how best to relate the work of an SU to the same.

 

Accounts and Finance

 

16 AF 1 Solidarity Fund

Proposed by the President, USI

Congress notes:

The Union of Students in Ireland has actively sought to expand its membership in recent years with a particular focus on postsecondary inclusion.

Congress further notes:

Participation from new unions is significantly curtailed by a lack of funding. This essentially means that certain student groups are still unrepresented despite being members of USI.

Congress recognises:

Solidarity is the cornerstone of unions and that every effort should be made to ensure our Union is as inclusive and engaging as possible.

Congress mandates:

The introduction of a solidarity fund to allow for broader participation of underfunded unions in the national movement. This fund would operate on a voluntary basis and be used to allow for engagement in key national activity such as national council, congress and other decision making or training exercises organised by the union.

Congress further mandates:

That the fund would only be available to unions that fulfil the following criteria:

  • Have a total annual budget of less than €18,000 per year.
  • Have less than two paid sabbatical officers.
  • It is the view of the National Council that they are not in a position to participate in the work of the national union due to financial constraints.

Congress further mandates:

The introduction of a levy on Students Unions of not more than 14c per student per year to finance the fund. The contribution of individual Students’ Unions would be voluntary.

Congress further mandates:

Fees applied by USI for training, conferences etc be reduced, as appropriate, to allow participation in such events

Congress further mandates:

The President, and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance to seek alternative funding for FE colleges as soon as practicable.

 

16 AF 2 Living Wage

Proposed by the President, USI

Congress recognises:

The definition of the living wage as “a wage which is high enough to maintain a normal standard of living.”

Congress recognises:

The value of leading by example and the existing motion 14 NA 1 which outlines our comprehensive policy on the issue.

Congress notes:

The work undertaken by various representative groups, including USI, and some employers to ensure that workers be paid the living wage in order to maintain a decent standard of living.

Congress further notes:

That USI has a number of staff and officers working full time for the organisation.

Congress mandates:

That USI becomes a living wage employer and that Officer Board encourages other Students’ Unions to do the same.

 

 

13 AF 1      MOTION TO INTRODUCE INCREASED USI FINANCE COMMITTEE TRANSPARENCY

Congress notes:

The significant responsibility that USI Finance Committee has towards the organization and the powers it holds under the constitution including:

  • The drafting of the USI Annual Budget
  • Regulation of Officerboard’s terms and conditions of employment
  • The setting of expense rates

Congress further notes:

The inadequacy of a brief annual update on USI Finances to Member Organisations.

Congress also notes:

The responsible decisions made by USI Finance Committee and the need to maintain confidentiality in relation to certain decisions.

Congress therefore mandates:

The President a quarterly update to National Council and to provide members of National Council with Agenda and Minutes of its meetings. Congress recognises that certain Agenda items and Minutes may be withheld due to being sensitive in nature.

 

13 AF 2      MOTION ON COST OF USI AFFILIATION FEES

Congress notes:

The dependence of USI on affiliation fees, amounting to 99.8% of the organisation’s income in 11/12.

Congress believes:

It is prudent for the organisation and a duty to its Member Organisations to regularly conduct a comprehensive review of affiliation fees and financial strategy.

Congress believes

It is equally important that students feel USI represents value for their money.

Congress mandates:

The USI President commence a financial review of the organisation and the production of a five year financial plan to be presented to Congress 2014. This review must at a minimum:

  • Review the system of charging Member Organisations a charge per student regardless of size, student numbers and other criteria taken into account by other National Student Unions.
  • Seek to reduce the affiliation fees charged by USI to Students’ Unions/student members.
  • Aim to reduce dependence on affiliation fees through increasing other income sources

 

Irish Language

 

16 IL 1 Flouting of the Official Languages Act 2003

Proposed by DCUSU

Congress notes

The requirement under section 9 (2) of the Official Languages Act 2003 that public bodies are required, where a person communicates in an official language, to respond in the same language.

Congress believes

That this legal requirement is continuously flouted and ignored to the detriment of Irish speakers.

Congress mandates

An Leas Uachtarán don Ghaeilge and VP for Equality & Citizenship to investigate the extent to which this occurs within Irish HEIs.

Congress mandates

An Leas Uachtarán don Ghaeilge and VP for Equality & Citizenship to formulate a campaign and to report back to National Council on the progress of this campaign.

 

16 IL 2 Múineadh na Gaeilge

16 IL 2 Teaching of the Irish Language

Molta ag an Leas Uachtarán don Ghaeilge

Aithníonn an Chomhdáil

Na fadhbanna fadbhunaithe maidir le múineadh na Gaeilge sna bunscoileanna agus iarbhunscoileanna.

Aithníonn an Chomhdáil chomh maith

An easpa dul chun cinn aontaithe nó gníomhach leis na fadhbanna seo a réiteach.

Cáineann an Chomhdáil

An tionchar diúltach atá aige seo, toisc nach bhfuil polasaí soléir deartha, a fheabhsódh teagasc na Gaeilge, agus gur féidir le lucht na Gaeilge a thacú agus a bhrú.

Sainordaíonn an Chomhdáil

Leas Uachtarán don Ghaeilge le taighde a stiúradh, i bpáirt leis na hAontais múinteoireachta, na heagraíochtaí Gaeilge , coláistí oideachais, idir dháltaí, mhúinteoirí, agus eile, agus comh-thuairisc a fhoilsiú, a leagfadh amach straitéas fórásach, cuimsitheach, agus iltaobhach i leith múineadh na Gaeilge sna bunscoileanna agus iarbhunscoileanna. Is gá é seo a dhéanamh roimh dheireadh 2016.

Congress notes

The long-term failures surrounding the teaching of Irish at primary and post primary level.

Congress further notes

The lack of a united and collaborative effort to find a solution to these failures.

Congress condemns

The impact that this has had, in the absence of clearly defined policy that would improve the teaching of Irish, and that the relevant Irish language and educational groups could support.

Congress mandates

VP for the Irish Language to direct a study, in collaboration with the relevant Irish language organisations and teachers’ unions, teacher-training colleges, between students, teachers, and others, and to publish a collaborative report, that would set out a progressive, comprehensive, and multilateral strategy regarding the teaching of Irish at primary and post primary level.

16 IL 3 Measúnú na Gaeilge

16 IL 3 Assessment of Irish Language

Molta ag an Leas Uachtarán don Ghaeilge

Aithníonn an Chomhdáil

Na buntáistí ag baint leis an bhFráma Comónta Eorpach do Theangacha (CEF) trí threoirlínte soiléire a chur ar fáil maidir le cumas fhoghlaimeoirí na dteangacha san Eoraip.

Sainordaíonn an Chomhdáil

Leas Uachtarán don Ghaeilge stocaireacht a dhéanamh ar Roinn an Oideachais agus Scileanna leis na teoirlínte seo a chur i bhfeidhm maidir le measúnú ar an nGaeilge ag leibhéal iar-bhunscoile.

Congress notes

The advantages of the Common European Framework for Languages (CEF) in providing a guideline as to the proficiency of language learners across Europe.

Congress mandates

VP for the Irish Language to lobby the department of Education and Skills to implement these guidelines in relation to the examination of the Irish language at post-primary level.

 

16 IL 4 Extension of the Official Languages Act to the private sector

Proposed by NUI Galway Students’ Union

Congress notes:

The bi-lingual policy of USI.

Congress believes:

The promotion of the Irish language by USI and Irish language bodies like Conradh na Gaeilge etc. is integral to the status of the language.

Congress commends:

The Irish language schemes which promote the language In public services.

Congress acknowledges:

That the language schemes in Wales and Canada extend to private bodies as well as the public ones.

Congress mandates:

The VP Irish language to lobby the Minister for the Gaeltacht to extend the remit of the Official Languages Act to private bodies as well as public ones.

 

 

16 CZN 2 Students’ Unions Multicultural Festival

Proposed by DITSU

Congress Notes:

That Ireland has become far more diverse and multicultural in the last 20 years.

Congress Further Notes:

That this promotes recognition, understanding and acceptance of people who come from different cultural backgrounds.

Congress Further Notes:

The importance of celebrating the many different cultures which have had a positive impact on Irish Society.

Congress Therefore Mandates:

That the VP for Equality and Citizenship and the VP for Campaigns, working with all the Equality Officers and/or Welfare Officers and the many different multicultural groups, institutions and organisations in Ireland to run an annual Students’ Unions Multicultural Festival which celebrates these many different cultures, and promotes the excellent opportunities available within all Students’ Unions.

 

13 CS 1      WORKING WITH VOLUNTEER IRELAND

Congress notes:

That the Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship has built a relationship and worked with Volunteer Ireland this year.

Congress believes:

That both USI and Volunteer Ireland have a lot to benefit from working together to promote and encourage student volunteering.

Congress mandates:

The Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship to continue engaging and working with Volunteer Ireland to promote and encourage student volunteering in higher.

 

13 CS 2      YOUNG PEOPLE, CITIZENSHIP AND ENGAGEMENT

Congress welcomes:

President Michael D. Higgins’ ‘Being Young and Irish’ seminar and recognises the importance and positive impact that can result from programs that involve citizen engagement.

Congress notes with concern:

The low level of voter turnout in Ireland, particularly amongst young people, and the importance of ensuring that we have a population that is engaged with and participating in our democracy.

Congress acknowledges:

The benefits that greater citizen engagement can have on government and the wider society, with specific emphasis on improving voter turnout, particularly amongst the young people of Ireland.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to lobby for the extension of such programmes through that focus on engaging with the youth of Ireland and for Civil, Social and Political Education (CSPE) to be part of a reformed Leaving Certificate to encourage a sense of citizenship in young people.

Congress also mandates

The Vice President for Campaigns to roll out an effective voter registration campaign nationwide by December 2013.

 

13 CS 3      TASKFORCE VOLUNTEERING AND CITIZENSHIP

Congress welcomes

The increased participation in the Equality & Citizenship Working Group which has been noted

at National Council over the past year, and commends efforts which have been made to achieve this.

Congress recognises:

The importance of structuring USI’s activities in the area of citizenship, and the difficulties involved for many officers in continuing to engage with this area in between National Councils when it is not a central focus of their brief.

Congress notes:

The outstanding work which has been done in recent years by USI Taskforces in developing policy and campaigns, particularly in the areas of Graduate Employment and Electoral Law Reform.

Congress therefore mandates:

That a USI Taskforce on Volunteering and Citizenship be established, to be chaired by the Vice-President for Equality & Citizenship. This is to be completed before September 2013.

The membership of this Taskforce should consist of:-

USI President

USI VP for Campaigns

USI VP for Equality & Citizenship

All Regional Vice-Presidents

The NUS-USI President

4 members of National Council

1 external member as agreed by National Council

The areas the Taskforce should focus on should include, but not be exclusive to, the following-

  • Fundraising for USI National Charity;
  • Anti-Social Behaviour;
  • Community Engagement;
  • Student Participation Awards;
  • Voter Registration;
  • Student Volunteering

 

 

Priority Ballot Form

Congress 2019 Lapsing Policy Priority Ballot

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