By Mark Lynch
The students of NUI Galway have elected their part-time Students’ Union officers for the academic year 2020/2021.
The vote, which took place on campus on Thursday, March 12th, was overshadowed by news of the shutdown, which seemingly affected turnout. Across the 10 positions up for grabs, the total valid poll ranged from just 11 votes (for Clubs’ Captain) to 587 for Oifigeach na Gaeilge.
The position of Oifigeach na Gaeilge was the best contested across both the part-time and full-time positions, going all the way to the 4th count. After the first count, sitting Officer Erin Mac an Tsaoir led the way with 32%, with 3 candidates between 17-19%. Rebecca Nic Sheamuis ended up being Mac an Tsaoir’s closest rival, ending up with 197 votes after 3 rounds of transfers, but it was the Dublin man who was deemed elected with 243.
Oifigeach na Gaeilge was not the closest end result, however. The position of Convenor of the College of Science and Engineering, with a valid poll of 201, was incredibly tight after the first count. Aoife Buckley led the way with 71, while Oisín Ganley sat on 64, and third candidate Sai Gujulla was right on their tails with 60. With just one transfer from the 1st preference votes for re-open nominations (which went to Sai Gujulla), the last-placed candidate was eliminated, and his votes distributed. With just 19 votes to spare after the third count, Aoife Buckley was deemed elected.
The current Gender and LGBT Rights Officer, Kaushik Narasimhan, only began his tenure 4 months ago, after a by-election in November. However, he did not seek re-election, and Maeve Arnup romped home with almost two-thirds of the vote. Their only rival, Jude Little, ended on around 26%, with 7% seeking to re-open nominations. Speaking to SIN after their election, Maeve Arnup said, “I’m thankful and delighted to have been elected. I’m looking forward to working on all of my initiatives and ideas and hope to be a stable support for LGBT+ students in NUI Galway”.
The election for Disability Rights Officer saw Stevie Buckley go up against Patricia O’Mahony. O’Mahony, the auditor of the IMPACTE (Inclusion & Motivation for Promoting Access to Community Transformation and Engagement) Society in NUI Galway, won out with just over 58% of the votes on the first and only count. Patricia spoke of her delight at being able to fulfil this role. “It means a lot. I’ve been an activist in NUI Galway for so long, and I can now do even more for students. There are 2 main things I want to do next year, and they are a Facebook page, where students can interact with me with issues they’re having, and to have a weekly clinic where students can come and meet me face to face”. She continued, “I can now continue the work I started last summer, when I was in everyday Monday to Friday, fighting for students. I want to continue on now, and do even more”.
Also on the ballot paper was the position of Convenor of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies. With 3 candidates, and a total poll of 238 students, it was Claire McHale who was deemed elected after the first and only count, with 56%. Her closest rival, Cian Mortimer, managed just under a third of the vote.
Half of the positions voted on that day (5) had just one candidate running. With an electorate of over 3,000 students, the position of Convenor of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, ended up with a valid poll of just 86. The only candidate, Evan O’Flaherty, had no trouble defeating re-open nominations, and spoke to SIN following his election. “I’m delighted to have been elected for Convenor. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I first came to the University and I’m really grateful I’ve been given the opportunity”. He continued, “A massive thank you to everyone who got out and voted for me. My main plan for the year is to integrate the students of the three schools together – we’re all going to work together in the future so I don’t see why it shouldn’t happen now”.
Mature Students’ Officer also only had one candidate running. The voting for this position was open to all students, and had a valid poll of 550. The only candidate, Michelle Mitchell, was deemed elected with 87% of the vote. 70 votes were cast to re-open nominations, the highest across any position.
With the lowest electorate, valid poll and quota of any position, current NUI Galway Boxing Club Captain Kirsty Moran was elected Clubs’ Captain. Only 45 students were eligible to vote in this, and Kirsty was deemed elected with 10 votes. 1 vote was cast to re-open nominations.
There were two post-graduate representative roles on the ballot paper, Postgraduate Taught Officer and Postgraduate Research Officer. Each position only had one candidate running, making them both foregone conclusions. Martin Smyth, the outgoing Convenor of Arts, was elected the Postgraduate Taught Officer, with 38 votes. Sebastiaan Bierema was elected Postgraduate Research Officer with 46 votes.
The vote for SU Council Chairperson has been postponed indefinitely, while these officers will officially begin their terms on July 1st.