“It is with great regret that I note the results of a referendum of UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) which will result in its disaffiliation from the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).
Throughout the referendum campaign, students who favoured disaffiliation felt that UCDSU should adopt a more local focus for the foreseeable future, in light of its financial difficulties.
We recognise the unique circumstances in UCD. It’s clear that the decision taken by its students is not reflected in referendum results elsewhere and while we are disappointed to lose their voice from the national union, we respect their decision.
It is regrettable that the rules for this referendum prevented all USI officers, except for UCD alumni, from discussing the issues with students on campus. As a result of this, I feel that students were not granted the opportunity to hear the full case for continuing membership of their national union.
USI now awaits notification from UCDSU of its intention to disaffiliate, which according to the constitution voted on and supported by UCDSU, will take place one calendar year after the notification is made to USI National Council.
In the period between now and then, USI has an opportunity to prove the value and worth of the organisation and win back the wholehearted support of UCD’s students.
USI is proud of its work protecting students from the worst effects of the financial crisis, its campaigns for gender and marriage equality and its efforts to promote mental and sexual health. We hope that UCD students will join these campaigns again in the future, as their input has been profoundly influential over the years.
Last Autumn, the students of Trinity College chose to remain affiliated to USI and tomorrow we hope to hear that students in NUI Maynooth will do the same. We will also hear whether students in Dublin City University have chosen to rejoin USI, after a decade of disaffiliation.
As students go through difficult times, never has the value of unity and the cost of division been so evident. With this as a guiding principle, we hope to hear the voice of UCD students in the national union again before long.