There has been some controversy over attendance to the 2023 Union of Students in Ireland Comhdháil.
This year’s congress saw quorum being called at the beginning of almost every section, peaking at being called six times on Tuesday 4 April.
Delegates in attendance of the Comhdháil have the power to call quorum while motions are being debated, and quorum requires that there are a certain amount of delegates on the floor.
However, the controversy occurred due to the failure of many of the quorum counts, which meant that the debating of the motions were delayed.
These quorum failures sparked outrage on Twitter from students of the Higher Education Institutes in USI which were not at the Comhdháil, with questions being raised about the importance of USI Comhdháil if voting and debates were being delayed due to a large amount of delegates absence.
Although there were some quorum failures, all of the quorum counts passed on the second count, after students had been given more time to enter the floor.
The University of Galway were also recipients of three awards. The University of Galway won best large delegation, Leas-Uachtarán don Ghaeilge Barry Ó Siochrú won best speaker, and Fionn Connolly Sexton won best speech.
There were a large number of motions proposed, and by close on Thursday all of the motions had been debated and either passed, failed, or were sent back to a working group to be improved on.
A breakdown of the motions
One of the biggest motions which was passed on the final day, during emergency motions, was a motion of ‘No Confidence in the Government’, which passed with no debate opposing the motion and an overwhelming majority voting in favour.
Other motions that passed was a motion called ‘Save the Night’ proposed by University of Galway VP for Welfare Imogen O’Flaherty Falconer, that called for better night life across Ireland with the time of closure for nightclubs to be extended until 6a.m.
Another successful motion was the ‘Legislation of Sex Work’, with a delegate speaking in favour of the motion stating that “there should be no shame in sex work, and there should be no shame in the conversation around it.”
There was great debate over a motion about Artificial Intelligence in education, with the opposition stating that it will “stunt learning, stop progression and make all education workers completely unnecessary.”
A rebuttal to that was that “artificial intelligence is only as smart as the humans who make it and the humans who use it.” Ultimately the motion passed.
Other motions that passed were ‘the Living Wage for Students’, ‘Trans Equality Together Coalition’, ‘Reforms for Non-EU Postgraduate Researchers’, and ‘Úsáid do Chúpla Focal’.
A motion for a USI Constitutional Amendment to include the USI Constitute in Ulster Scots, in addition to the current English and Irish.
Many voices were heard on both sides of the debate, with delegates in favour stating that “bringing Ulster Scots into the conversation would be really eye opening”, and “even if it’s a small piece, translating the Constitution is an important first step.”
Opposers of the proposal argued that “our Constitution isn’t a way of promoting languages” and “this isn’t a motion to create equality and bring people together, it’s a legal document.” In the end the motion fell and was unsuccessful.
Voting also occurred during the Comhdháil week for next year’s USI Coiste Gnó. University of Galway Student Union President Sai Gujulla ran for USI President, but lost out by four votes to Chris Clifford.