Do we really know the Student Union ?

Clemence Dumoulin

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[Credit photo : Clémence Dumoulin]

For most of the students, the Student Union is an opportunity to have some parties with cheep beer, having discount in some shops or discover the country. Yes it is true! But it is more than this; actually it’s an independent representative body of the student. Usually this is student working for others students who try to create a campus community and help you with your student life. Also, the Student Union is involved in many student issues concerning both its own college and students’ rights in general. The Student Union is also a valuable source of information on many issues ranging from accommodation to financial or welfare advice and often run awareness weeks. Also, the Student Union might offer to the students a variety of programs, activities, services and facilities. Thus, we can say that the Student Union is the heart of a university wich is devoted to student recreation and socialization. The student is automatically a member of the Student Union and can decide if he wants to be involved in the union or not.

But what are the origins of the Student Union? It was actually created a long time ago !

University of Massachusetts Student Union

[Credit Photo, Flickr : Ken Mayer]

In fact, more than one century, the first known Student Union opens up Houston Hall on the campus of University of Pennsylvania in 1986. But It was actually at that time called a Student Union building,  bit different of what we know now. In fact, it refers as a physical building owned by the university with the purpose to provide services for students without a governing body also referred to as a student activity center.

Thus, the term Student Union, that we know today like the Griffith College Student Union was created in 1967-1968 when students were protesting the Vietnam War. At the origin, the body called the Student Assembly, allocated money to student groups through the Office of Student Activities. Students were unhappy with the restrictions on their funds and with the limited power they had to allocate money for their activities.

Student Union has grown and changed greatly since the organization was conceived, but it’s purpose remains the same: to be an advocate for students on issues that affect them and to allocate funding to student groups for programming that enriches campus life.

Does Student Union exist in every country ?

Most of the time, every college, university and high school have their own Student Union in every countries like in Ireland, to represent the students in the context of internal college issues and on wider student related issues and also a means of solidarity with other movements globally.

In some countries as it the case for the United States in the important university, the Student Union are powerfull and represent the voice of the student by having a political impact. University serves as a hub for young people to take part into a political activity and discuss about their politics, still sectioned off slightly from the real world but with the ability to affect real changes. In fact, the Students’ Union works in the same way as a workplace union, it campaigns for the rights of its members.

 

 The case of the Student Union at the Griffth College Dublin : As Student Union doesn’t have the same size and power in every institution, let’s find out more about this little fortress with coloured flag with the assistant manager Claire Aston!

[Credit Photo : Clémence Dumoulin]

Can you talk to us about its creation?
“The SU was first created in 2000, The college employed a Development Officer called Ray Egan to set up the Students Union, as a means of encouraging  students to get involved in college life through clubs, societies & events”

What are you principal missions?
To give students the best possible social college experience through sports and entertainment events while ensuring their welfare needs are met.

How the Student Union is working ?
The Students Union is 100% funded by Griffith College.

How Much people are working for the SU?
There are currently 4 roles in the SU, 3 are full time and 1 sabbatical, but this year we are adding in two new part-time roles of; Clubs & Societies Assistant and Entertainments Assistant.

At which Level Is involve the Student union with the Griffith College : do you have any obligations or make feed-back to the Griffith College?
The President chairs class rep and gets feedback from students which is then fed back to college.”

Can you talk about you?
I am a full time employee of Griffith College. I first started in the role as a sabbatical officer, I ran for the role of vice president (Ents Officer) for 2 years. Following my completion of the 2 years a full time position became available which I applied for. I am now Assistant Manager and entertainments co-ordinator.

What Did you decide to join the SU?
I decided to run for the SU when I was in my  second year of college, I lost that election to Rain Aly. I ran again in my final year and that was when I began working in the SU.

You are currently organising the Griffith Ball, how does it work ?
The ball is the big event of the year. It is a black tie event, which includes a 3 course meal, band and DJ. It is the big night to end the year and is attended by both staff and students, anyone who wishes to attend can get to get there tickets in the SU.”

Do you know who take part the most in your activites: International Student or irish?
We get a mix of both, possibly more international.

What about the social Media?
For our social media we have Facebook, Twitter , Instagram and Snapchat. These are all run by the President of the SU who is also the communications officer. This is currently Pierce Connolly.”

Who can be a part of the Student union team how does it Work?
Any student with a visa that allows them to work full time can run in the SU elections.

Don’t hesistate to go talk to them and join their event !


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Clemence Dumoulin