What is your manifesto for the upcoming year?
Our manifesto is geared towards the improvement of green-driven initiatives around campus, student engagement and overall facilities to aid student comfort.
A big project of MSU is to put a bike rental scheme in place for our students. In doing this, students living in far away estates and bordering towns can get to college without needing a car. This means less congestion, less traffic in our university town and it’s a handy way to get some exercise in for the day, in the midst of all the pot noodles and red bulls!
We also hope to continue to develop student engagement in clubs and societies and through class reps! Student facilities are also of upmost importance in our manifesto. A lot of commuter spaces, chill out areas, and leisure points on campus need refurbishments; hopefully these necessary changes will be seen in the very near future!
We are also working on the construction of new facilities across campus with a new students’ centre, leisure centre and more for the future students of Maynooth University.
What do you hope to achieve over the next year?
Of course the completion and success of our manifesto would be a great achievement; we hope to perpetuate the great name Maynooth has with regard student happiness.
Officially, we are the friendliest campus in the country, and it is due to our amazing events and great social life here. The buzz on campus is simply non-stop and we hope to multiply that this year, making our students proud to call themselves Maynoothians!
Last year we were the proud winners of many awards, our clubs and societies especially won many awards nationally and internationally. Hopefully we can not only help our students match their previous achievements, but improve them!
What do you feel your team’s strong points are?
We all have our own individual strong points; apart from Dillon’s fabulous dress-sense, Eric’s guns and Síona’s.. well, Síona-ness; everyone does their own job to an incredible standard.
Two of our VP’s are in their second term and their wealth of experience from their previous term really shines through. Overall, I feel that our team’s common denominator is our understanding of students, from welfare to education right down to each club and society, we know the issues had and efforts made students, and we will do everything we can to aid them!
Our National Student Survey results showed that approximately 50% of students have considered dropping out, with nearly one quarter of students citing mental health concerns as the main reason for their consideration. What do you make of this statistic?
It’s a horrific statistic to see, although it does not shock me. 3rd level education can be very daunting at times, it can be a very big change for some people; socially, academically and physically.
It’s a new setting with new rules. Essentially it is a completely new way of living for some students. Of course students are going to struggle at times, they carry more burdens than people know, and if poor mental health is one of these burdens sometimes students see dropping out as their only option.
Fortunately, it is not. The services we can provide these students range from internal one-on-one chats and help centres through different mediums including online and via phone. All that is needed is to take the first step through our doors, and we’ll take it from there; and hopefully we’ll drive this statistic down.
Do you think that the mental health services in your college are adequate to meet students’ needs?
As I’ve said, the mental health services available in Maynooth do great work, from our own Vice President of Welfare and Equality right through to the chaplaincy and so much more.
Often students prefer to go elsewhere where it becomes less personal, for example online or call centres, which is another great service. It is not one that we directly provide ourselves, but we do support these options as much as we can and we can turn students in the direction of these services should they want them.
For example, we are heavily involved with services such as PleaseTalk and Niteline.
The National Student Survey also showed that 23% of students who considered dropping out cited the reason that the course wasn’t what they expected it to be. What steps do you think a college or Students’ Union could take to help potential students know what to expect from their course?
I believe that students should study what they like, and what they are good at and not necessarily what they think is the better course. Aptitude is a key aspect here; students can test their aptitude online and it would be very useful if these tests could be applied to particular college modules in order for students to know what courses and what modules suit them best.
Simply having a talk with the career guidance centre or our own Vice President for education will also shed some light on what courses may suit certain students.
We believe that sending incoming students the correct information is of the upmost importance. Sometimes when students read about their prospected course, the description of the course is slightly different to what is actually being taught. This info needs to be concise, accurate and not there just to sell the course.
Our National Student Survey revealed that nearly 60% of students stated that they either have or would like to make a complaint about the standard of lecturing in their college. What do you make of this? Do you think there is a way to tackle this problem?
At one stage or another, most students will come across a lecturer they don’t get on with or feel that they take nothing from, this is often due to the lecturer’s style of lecturing. Sometimes it doesn’t match-up with the class across the board as everyone has different ways of learning, but there are many reasons why students make complaints regarding lecturers.
Perhaps lectures don’t go under enough scrutiny, if a lecturer receives a complaint; a proper inspection should be made as a solution.
For freshers and students interested in getting involved in college life and societies, what advice would you give to them?
Do it. Do not hesitate, do not procrastinate, get in there and get involved right from the word go! Your college years are the best years of your life, getting involved with college life is an exciting and eye-opening activity. You make countless friends, some of whom will last far beyond college years and you’ll have some amazing memories to match.
Our National Student Survey showed that 34% of students felt that their Students’ Union was just average, not effective, or was not familiar with their Students’ Union at all. What steps would you implement this year to ensure that this statistic decreased?
The visibility of our union is unparalleled I feel. We are seen all over campus and always do our best to get involved with our students as much as we physically can. As Maynooth is Ireland’s only University town, there is a great sense of community on campus, wherein the Students’ Union is the epicentre.
With major college events organised by college Students’ Unions promoting safe sexual health throughout the year, where you shocked that our survey showed that 93.35% of sexually active students have not been tested for an STI?
No, this statistic wouldn’t personally shock me. I remember when I was a student, people I knew never really got tested because firstly, all the preventative measures would have been taken, and secondly, unless you’re worried that you have contracted an STI, you are not going to go through the process of getting tested as many students find it embarrassing.
This is a shame, of course, but it is the mentality that a lot of students have. I would like to think that part of the reason students are not getting tested is that they have been provided with all the information regarding the preventative actions for STI’s.
What is your opinion on the state of the student accommodation crisis today? Does your college offer any facilities or services that will help students who are having trouble finding sufficient accommodation?
I find it very hard to watch students struggle to put a roof over their head, when they have enough issues to deal with. I myself remember being a squatter in my first year, where I called a mattress on a sitting room floor home.
The University provide an online system called Maynooth Student Pad in which local landlords have put up the details of the accommodation they have for rent.
The Union offers a list of available “digs” – where the student lives in the house with the landlord, often proving half and full board to the tenants.
What are your opening hours?
Our front desk opens at 09:30 and closes at 17:00.
What is the easiest way for students to contact you?
The easiest way for students to get in contact is by e-mail or through our Facebook! Or if they would prefer to call into us, our office doors are always open!