Students talk accommodation at USI congress

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The USI Congress in full swing on day two. Picture credit: Catherine Devine

By Catherine Devine

A range of motions such as drug testing kits, the accommodation crisis and water charges were widely debated by Student’s Unions at the USI Congress 2016 in Clare this morning.

A motion to look into the feasibility of drug testing kits being introduced into colleges sparked debate by students. Katie Quinlan, Welfare Officer at UCC, said that “we need to try it…it could save lives”. Other delegates expressed concern that taking drugs is “reckless behaviour” and that the incentive would be a waste of money as students wouldn’t take the time to test drugs. The motion was carried with a majority.

The USI’s mandate on accommodation was carried without dispute. It included proposals for the USI to establish a licensing agreement with landlords, to control rent levels and regulate digs. The USI also stated that they will work with national agencies such as Threshold and PRTB to combat the student housing crisis and offer more protection to students. The mandate also contained points on tax incentives for developers and tenant’s rights.

Water charges were also debated at the student congress. The USI was called for student accommodation blocks to be exempt from water charges. “This motion shouldn’t be passed. It says water charges are fine, just don’t give them to students. It’s not collectivism and I don’t accept it,” said Ben Slimm, President for IT Tralee, asking for the motion not to be passed. Slimm reiterated that he is anti-water charges. When put to vote, delegates voted against the motion.

DCUSU proposed more support for primary school teachers, following their merger with St.Pat’s college. They asked to look into possible stipends for student teachers on placement. Sean Cassidy, DCUSU said: “We need to build on the success of the nurses’ campaign.” DCUSU Vice President for Education, James Donoghue, said an event he held for student nurses working abroad had the highest turnout of any event he put on this year. “Students have given up. Conditions shouldn’t put them off being teachers in Ireland, it should support and encourage them,” said Donoghue. The motion was carried by delegate’s votes.
The Congress continues after lunch with debates on Union Development and Gaeilge.

@catherinedevin1

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