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The TCD Provost election – the final hours

The #tcdprovost campaign comes to an end tomorrow as the academics of #tcd meet to elect a leader to take them through the tough times ahead.  This is an event that occurs every ten years, and this is the first time I have had an interest – something to do with being a PhD student in that fine institution.

The whole election has been a strange one to me as a postgraduate.  I am a part-time student and cannot physically attend many Provost campaign events.  The final hustings on Wednesday night was the first event I could attend.  As such, I am very reliant on internet communications.  I am likely to learn little of a candidate if they chose not to tweet or engage in website communications.  A quick Google search shows there has been large variation among the candidates in this area.

PGs have a lowly weighted say in the election but the organisation of this was so poor it meant nothing.

  • We were told in an email by the GSU that we could vote for the candidates at such a time and place the following week.  This was very early in the election period and most people were still concerned with the general election (#ge11).  We were given almost no info on the candidates, nor many pointers as to where we might find any.  Most students had little insight into the candidates at that point and many including yours truly (I am ashamed to say) ended up not voting.
  • The candidates did try to send us manifestos and other documentation to inform us of their priorities …. until they were inexplicably informed not to by the GSU.  Why, oh why, did the GSU think it was in our interests not to engage with this election?
  • The University Times made approaches to take the GSU to task over their behaviour.  There was criticism of GSU personnel favouriting a particular candidate when they, of course, should be neutral.
  • The GSU personnel have 4 votes of their own which they can use at they wish i.e. they are not under an obligation to follow the preferences of the students they are purporting to represent.  This is a bizarre arrangement to say the least.
  • The GSU say they received few if any complaints.  Perhaps this is the case.  I discovered earlier this academic year on an unrelated matter how futile complaining to the current GSU is.

Back to the election – the final hustings on Wednesday night was my first opportunity to see and listen to all the candidates together up close.  It was an interesting experience.  I was more than impressed at how civilised and professional it all was.  There was no verbal punching among the contestants, there was no overt refutations of each other’s points, there seemed to be much mutual respect.  It made for an interesting and informative evening.

Jane Ohlmeyer and Colm Kearney seemed to me the most impressive candidates.  I was particularly taken by Jane’s strength of character, leadership, vision, and sheer enthusiasm for the job.  She strikes me as someone who is skilled and able in terms of large-scale fund-raising for the college through Government and more importantly non-Governmental (international) sources.

Now the end is nigh and it is likely most of the academics voting tomorrow have decided on their preference list.  May the best candidate win.

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The Lisbon Thing

I’ve held back from writing / commenting on the upcoming Lisbon referendum up to now. It seems to stir up lots of strong emotion in people. Many of the Yes voters seem to be very intolerant of the No voters, and vice versa.  Seemingly perfectly good friends are falling out over their differing views on the treaty.

To bring a lighter touch to the event, I refer you to this – a view of what life might be like 25 years into the future if we chose to reject the Lisbon treaty again.  This is from TCD’s student newspaper Trinity News. A summary is as follows –

  • The twenties were a boom period – Celtic Tiger part 2.
  • We Irish folks need a work permit to work in Europe, given that our double rejection of the treaty caused us to be booted out of Europe.
  • The EF (that’s the European Federation) is embracing third world war activities with Iran. Barroso and Ahmadineejad are at the forefront.  Paris has been bombed. The implication is that we are thankfully not part of this warfare having been turfed out because of the double Lisbon.
  • The Labour Gov of 2018 abolished corporation tax (implication being that they could not have done this if we remained in Europe).
  • Britain continue to be our most prominent trading partner, having also turned her back on Europe.
  • When we got our Europe marching orders, we reacted by asking our foreign immigrants to leave. Result – Starbucks are now staffed by Deirdres
  • We’re very open to all things American, given that France and Spain etc are off limits
  • The Irish language is to the fore and a bilingual system is more real. Even the tourists are making the effort to speak it, the Americans, Japanese and Indians, that is. The continental Europeans don’t come here much anymore.
  • College Green is pedestrianised and doubles as a fish-market. Fish is back on the market now that we dont have to obey European fishing quotas.  This has had a positive impact on the west coast as fishing villages are revitalised.
  • Padraig Harrington has a street named after him (I’m not sure of the European angle on this one).
  • Dame Street has multimedia billboards telling (literally) us all about commercial bits and bobs.
  • TCD front arch has a metal detector. (Maybe this is a TCD thing, not a European one)
  • Students are charged a 1£N (note that we dropped the Euro) in late fees each time they are late to class. (Do we have to wait 25 years to implement this one?)
  • There’s a statue of Bertie Ahearn on Merrion Square.
  • The authors first class of the morning – “What would life be like if Ireland had accepted the Lisbon Treaty that time back in 2009”.

The piece is imaginative and well-written. In fact, the entire newspaper has a professionalism that its student staff can be proud of. I might not agree with all the viewpoints expressed but all seem to be thoughtful and well-researched. There’s a reason this newspaper has won top student newspaper for 2 years running.

Here’s to 2 more!