Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Words Matter, Equality Matters.

A vote will be taken next week in DCU on whether to change the Student Union's constitution.  A new constitution has been drawn up to replace the old one which stands since 2007.  The new constitution, written by the Student Union executive and a constitutional review committee, and voted upon by the class representative council, contains a number of vital flaws.  The new constitution removes the concept of equality from the workings of the Student Union.  In fact, the new constitution does not contain the word 'equality' once within its pages.

The idea behind the drawing up of the new constitution was to improve the functionality of the Student Union and to pass over more decision making power to the Union council of class reps.  In this regard, a reasonable job was done and the prominent flaws in the document are in no way related to this aspiration.  However, by removing proportional representation by reducing the number of class reps per class to two, no matter what the size of the class, the first element of inequality is shown in this document.  A second glaring omission from this new document in comparison to the current one is the removal of the aim "To work for a more equitable education system in this country, based on the principle that education is a fundamental right, not a privilege".  For a Student Union to remove this sentence out from of any constitution, just months after forty thousand students marched against the re-introduction of fees shows an amazing level of disconnect.  Finally, and perhaps the most astounding omission from the new document is total removal of the aim to "Represent all members equally, regardless of race, gender, age, physical ability, religious or philosophical affiliation, nationality, sexual orientation, marital status, political affiliation or other prejudicial factor".  This omission is coupled with the removal of the post of equality officer, the role of which is to be subsumed into the role of Vice President for Welfare.

In discussions with the current Student Union Executive about these omissions I was informed that the new constitution is not anti-equality, and that the spirit that document represents is one of functionality, inclusiveness and representation.  What the current Student Union Executive fails to realise is that words matter, equality matters, and that the spirit that the new document is meant to contain now will not be evident to those who read it once the current executive is gone.  In an era when many students view Student Unions as unrepresentative of their views, the removal of the concept of equality from life at DCU is just another betrayal. It is on this basis that students of DCU must vote no to this "anti-equality" constitution. 

For those interested in reading both the old and new constitutions, they are available at this link

Be Moderate? We Only Want The Earth.


  1. A couple of points of contension, from my expert view as a former sitting member of the constitutional review board that began the overhaul of the constitution:

    1. This is not a new constitution; this is a referendum on the already existing constitution, the practice of which is already deeply ingrained in the workings of the Students Union.
    2. The absence of the word equality doesn't remove the equality from the union, in fact the revision of the membership to all international students and students waiting for the receipt of grants broadens the inclusive nature of the students union.

    If you think that this constitution still needs work, call for an ad-hoc working group on reform after it's implementation

  2. Three quick points.
    1)It is a referendum on whether or not todump the current constitution and adopt the new constitution.
    2) If the word equality is not so important, then why is every mention of it being removed?
    3) If the new constitution gets voted in then I will call for a working group to re-introduce the concept of equality into the workings of the SU.

  3. It's not only words. Unequal treatment, e.g. 'positive discrimination' etc is feasible under the new constitution!!!
    (the german)

  4. Good job on the campaign! If only the students at DCU were not so apathetic!

    --your secret admirer