DIT Students' Union
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The DIT Students' Union is the representative body for all students in the Dublin Institute of Technology and it ensures there is a student voice at each level within the College. All students within the Institute are automatically members. It aims to represent and defend its student members and their interests at local, national and international levels on matters primarily relating to their education and welfare and to protect and further their rights as citizens. In addition it promotes Clubs, Societies and other non-academic activities and provides a range of services for its members.
- 1 Historical representation within DIT
- 2 History of the Students' Union
- 3 DIT Students' Union post Review
- 4 Recent Controversy
- 5 Elected offices
- 6 See also
- 7 External links
- 8 References
Historical representation within DIT
The early days of student representation can be traced back to when, in 1963, the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee (CDVEC) established the various College Councils, which provided for a student representative. The establishment of the Academic Council in 1970 provided for students to be invited to attend meetings and to participate in discussions, but they would not be permitted to vote on any resolution until the late 1970s. In 1978 the newly established DIT Governing Body was given an order by the CDVEC on its membership, which provided for one student representative - with voting entitlements.
In the early 1980s DIT students first gained direct representation on the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee itself. The first four representatives were Kevin McCartan in 1981/82, Michael Nugent in 1983, Felix McKenna in 1984 and Aidan Kerins in 1985.
In 2005 the process which began in 1963 was completed with student representatives now holding seats on all relevant central and major local committees (approximately 45 committees in total ), including sub committees of the Governing Body and Academic Council. In addition, recently staff from the Students' Union have been permitted to sit with the full-time Sabbatical Officers on various committees.
History of the Students' Union
The first record of student forums is in the mid-1950s where Student Representative Councils formed in the various CDVEC Colleges. The Councils discussed and dealt with local issues as best they could, without a formal representational structure in place.
Prior to the mid-1980s, the Student Union had been run, in the main, by elected Sabbatical officers with the back up support of permanent staff; the Union Secretaries. Each of the Colleges had a Student Union 'Site' President (and Welfare Officer / Deputy President in the larger 'sites'), in addition to the Union Secretary.
In 1985 an effort was made to address internal shortcomings and implement some reform in the organisation. As such the Student Union set up a limited company (DITSU Limited) for a number of legal, accounting and good corporate governance reasons.
DIT Students' Union post DIT
In 1992 as the Dublin Institute of Technology (as it is now known) was formed on a statutory basis , the Students' Union realised it needed to move with the times and also set about reorganising itself to meet new challenges. As such the first "Overall" President was elected in March 1993 (Deiric O'Broin) and their responsibilities included being the chief spokesperson of the DIT Students' Union, co-ordinating the activities of all the 'site' Sabbatical officers and being CEO of the organisation.
DITSU Trading Limited
In 1994 the commercial wing of the Students' Union was formally separated from DITSU Limited to form another company (DITSU Trading Limited), which thereafter solely dealt with the SU shops and staff, and associated matters.
Need for Reform
A growing perception in the late 1990s of poor organisational direction, focus and management structure, coupled with a number of specific problems arising from such, led the various stakeholders to realise that the DIT Students' Union needed a fundamental review.
In autumn 2002 a consortium of independent consultants  was engaged to undertake a root and branch review of its structures and activities and to develop a strategy for the future development of the organisation. It was envisaged that a review would provide an opportunity to evaluate what had happened with the organisation since its inception; as well as an opportunity to analyse, with the advice of outside experts, what had been successful and what had not been as effective; to hear what key players thought about the organisation and to assess how others go about similar work. In the summer of 2003 a strategic review was published with 54 recommendations.
In January 2004 a number of operational plans Strategic planning were devised around the key areas of the review and an implementation timetable was agreed. Following widespread consultation, a Student Referendum was held in March 2004 to ratify the plans including a new Constitution and was passed by a 92.5% majority.
DIT Students' Union post Review
A Student Council made up of Class Representatives from across the College, determines official policy, co-ordinates the work of the Sabbatical officers and reviews the activities of the organisation, on a monthly basis. The activities of the Students' Union have been aligned into 6 broad units which are based in the local SU offices across the College:
- Academic Affairs [Mountjoy Square]
- Chief Operations [Bolton Street]
- Communications [Kevin Street]
- Services (Events, Marketing, Clubs & Societies and Facilities) [Aungier Street]
- Student Affairs [Cathal Brugha Street]
- Trading [Kevin Street]
Continuing professional staff, specialising in their own area of expertise, has replaced the Sabbatical officer "jack of all trades and master of none" philosophy. Instead the Sabbatical officers are free to lead the organisation and drive the policy agenda, rather than to administer it.
In 2004 a new website  was launched. The website remains popular and regularly updated. In addition a comprehensive re-branding was undertaken to coincide with the new website, staffing structure and department structure. A new official SU publication "The Compact" replaced the "DIT Independent" in 2005. Previously the organisation was known by its acronym 'DITSU' but is now more commonly referred to as 'DIT Students' Union'. The website was relaunched again in 2012.
DIT Students' Union is a full member of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). Past Presidents have been involved in trying to reform the national union; most recently in 2005 when Jarlath Molloy (DIT Students' Union President) was part of a USI review group which brought a new constitution to the USI annual congress for approval. In highly controversial circumstances the proposal fell - by one vote. The following year Bernadette Farrell (DIT Students' Union Vice President) sat on another USI review committee, formed in the wake of that controversy, which brought a set of less controversial proposals to a special USI congress, some of which were accepted.
As with many Students' Unions, the organisation has had its fair share of problems. Its strategic review was in part due to two unsuccessful events held in the Point Depot in Dublin; both of which were financial failures. In addition, the Students' Union had become dysfunctional due to the number of Sabbatical officers across the College (up to 11), no clear mission and alienation of the membership. The review addressed these and other issues. The SU President is now responsible for formally submitting a Plan of Work for the entire organisation (prepared by the Sabbatical officers and SU departments during the summer), at the beginning of each year to the Student Council, who in turn have to approve it.
At the beginning of the 2004–2005 academic term, DITSU Trading Limited found itself in significant difficulties and its shops did not open as normal. Operating losses had built up over the previous years in foot of investments in equipment, refurbishments and a canteen facility. A rescue plan was organised by the holding company (DITSU Limited) and the Dublin Institute of Technology. A new management structure and other reforms were implemented and the shops re-opened after Christmas.
Full-time elected positions include:
- Vice President (Education)
- Vice President (Welfare)
- Vice President (Events)
Part-time elected positions include:
- College Officer (6 in all, 1 per faculty/site)
- Post-Graduate Officer (1 representing all Post graduate students)
- School Reps (27, one per school)
- Student Councillors (100, including the 27 school reps)
Each faculty/site holds Class Rep Meetings (CRMs)and College Forums which are convened and chaired by the College Officer. He/She is then charged by the CRM to sort out any problems, academic or otherwise. The College Officer will bring the issues raised to the relevant Sabbatical officer or SU department. The 6 College Officers and Post-Graduate Officer also sit on an Executive Council along with the 4 Sabbatical officers and discuss the Plan of Work (see above).