Union of Students in Ireland’s (USI) annual Congress took place from the 27th to the 30th of March. WIT Students’ Union (WITSU) Officers and accompanying delegates were in attendance for this important event. WITSU are a member of USI which is the national representative body for over 354,000 students in third-level education on the Island of Ireland.
Every year around Easter, the USI gathers delegates from Students’ Unions of all the member colleges together to decide on USI policies, the future plans of the organisation and to elect the core of its Officer Board. Congress runs for four full days with delegates being involved in several debates and elections. Each Students’ Union can submit motions to be discussed by all delegates, and the decision taken by the Congress then passes into the policy of USI.
All current WITSU Officers attended Congress: WITSU President, Michelle Byrne. Education Officer, Marie Sheedy. Welfare Officer, Michael Murphy. Entertainment Officer, Lauren Hayde. Communications Officer, Darren Malone. Incoming WITSU Officers were also in attendance: Incoming Welfare Officer, Celine Casey. Incoming Entertainment Officer, Michael Ennis. Incoming Communications Officer, Cathal Cocoman. Other WITSU delegates included Philip Erskine, John Fortune, and Laura Norbury.
The WITSU delegation brought a number of motions forward. All motions were proposed by WITSU either directly, or through the support of one of the national working groups such as the Academic Affairs working group, Equality and Citizenship working group, and the Welfare working group. The following motions were brought forward by WITSU and all were successfully passed by Congress:
AA10 Shared Feedback Standards
WEL 16 Student Assistance Fund & SUSI Recipients
WEL 22 Social Inclusion Campaign
UO5 Employability & Personal Skills Development
EQ1 Access to Orkambi, the Cystic Fibrosis Medication
CZN1 Environmental Sustainability
EQ4 Expansion of 2in2u Campaign
It was a hugely successful Congress for the WITSU delegates, all of which found the experience very beneficial. The delegation received commendation from various member organisations also in attendance. Their motion on Orkambi received a standing ovation after Michael Murphy’s (current WITSU Welfare Officer) closing speech, which was awarded best speech at Congress. Other WITSU delegates were also praised for their speeches throughout Congress.
Current and incoming WITSU Officers will now move forward working with USI on their updated policy and their newly elected Officer Board. Current WITSU President, Michelle Byrne, was successfully elected as USI’s Vice President for the Southern Region at Congress. This role will see her working with all of USI’s southern members including Waterford IT, Carlow IT, Carlow College, UCC, Cork IT, it Tralee, Limerick IT & Templemore FE. She will take up the position this summer.
WITSU and USI will continue to work together on various policies and campaigns for Irish third-level students.