guide to MSU’s Representative Structures 2021/22
Hi! Welcome to your guide to MSU’s Representative Structures 2021/22. We are so proud to have some of the best Students’ Union structures in the country, however, that means nothing if our members (You! The students!) don’t know what they are or how they work. This Guide aims to give a quick overview of our core structures, how they are going to operate this year, how you can get involved and use them as well as how this year's executive interpret them and some of the proposed changes we want to make marked in red!
We have worked really hard as a team to make sure these structures are the best that they can possibly be and are truly representative of you. All we ask is that you use them and engage with us because we know that a real union is more than just the 4 full time officers!
The MSU Executive
The MSU Executive is the main decision making body or cabinet of the Union. They are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the union and assist the President in making the important decisions regarding the Union, its structures and its services.
They are elected by students to serve for a one year term from the 1st of July to 30th of June. During this time the 4 full time officers are paid to work full time for the organisation
There are currently 10 positions on the MSU Executive:
President/CEO - Liam Cosgrove
VP Education - Niall Daly
VP Welfare & Equality - Luke Buckley
VP Student Life - Anna Travers
Arts, Celtic Studies and Philosophy Faculty Convenor - Alex Balfe
Science & Engineering Faculty Convenor - Alesia Tratsiakova
Social Science Faculty Convenor - Michaela Waters
Oifigeach na Gaelige / Irish Language Officer - Róisín Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh
Postgraduate Representative - Nicole Carr
Doctoral Postgraduate Representative - Andrea Woodcock
This is an Executive of many firsts:
- All new sabbatical officers (no returning incumbents)
- 70% Female Executive (This has allowed the President to ensure gender balance on all committee appointments including Governing Authority)
- First Doctoral Postgraduate Representative in MSU History
The Executive meets weekly (currently this is at 1pm every Thursday).
The MSU Executive reserves the right to approve all decisions of importance to the Union.
Coiste na Gaeilge
The Events and Promotions Working Group
The Communications and Campaigns Working Group
Taskforce on the ‘Future of learning in Higher Education’
The MSU Student Senate
The Student Senate is the Governing Body of Maynooth Students’ Union. It is made up of students who do the role of ‘senator’ part time alongside their studies. The Senate is a very powerful part of MSU’s structures. It is responsible for the oversight, accountability and policy of the union. There are a number of ways that it does this:
The MSU Student Senate meets at least 6 times per academic year, 3 times per semester. This is roughly once a month. The Senate is chaired by an independent/impartial Speaker (meaning they are not a member of the Union). The ‘Standing Orders’ are the rules that govern the meeting and it is the job of the Speaker to ensure that all members follow them.
Here the official business takes place, key things that happen at a senate meeting are:
Statements, Updates and Personal Explanations - This is where members of staff, affiliates or other people invited by the senate can make a statement or give an update. Alternatively members of the executive and the senate can give statements/updates here.
Administrative Business - This is where items of administrative or ‘housekeeping’ business are dealt with. This could be anything from elections to plan of work updates to the vote on the Charity of the Year takes place.
Committee Reports - This is where senators can find updates/reports from the different Committees of the Senate (see below for more on committees).
Officer Reports - This is where the MSU Executive Officers will present their reports to the senate for scrutiny. Here Senators can ask questions or make comments. Then the Speaker will ask members to vote on whether to approve or reject an officer's report.
Committee Business - This is where committees of the senate can bring forward an item and it is prioritised in this section of the agenda.
Caucus Business - This is where caucuses of the senate can bring forward an item and it is prioritised in this section of the agenda. (see below for more on caucuses).
Members Business - This is where any member of the senate can put forward an item for the attention of the senate this could be for approval, decision, discussion, information or note.
Student Senate committees advise the Student Senate on a range of specific areas. They are primarily responsible for the student Oversight of the Union.
A Student Senate Standing Committee is a permanent committee that is established by the MSU Constitution to consider a certain subject. The establishment of Standing Committees allows work to be delegated by the Student Senate, allowing for a more detailed examination of a topic than could be given to it by the Student Senate. Standing Committees can invite third parties to their meetings to discuss the topic with members. Standing Committee members have the opportunity to develop expertise in the subject their Standing Committee deals with and to interact more closely with the Executive and the student body.
The Student Senate has the following Standing Committees, namely:
- Constitutional & Representative Review Committee
- Executive Oversight & Accountability Committee
- Search Committee
- Selection Committee
- Rules & Procedures Committee
- Business Committee
The Student Senate may also have as many other committees as it deems necessary to assist the conduct of its business, set out in Schedule 3.
The Student Senate also has the following committees, namely:
- Levy Projects Committee
- Commercial Activities Feedback Committee
- Facilities & Services Feedback Committee
- Entertainments Committee
- Student Finance and SU Autonomy Committee
- USI Affairs Committee
Committees are a really useful way for Senators to get things done outside of the senate meetings and have oversight of key areas affecting students.
Committee Elections take place at the first Senate meeting so be prepared if you want to run!
Committees need a Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and a Secretary to allow them to function to consider running for one of these positions if you want to be on a committee!
Caucuses are a relatively new addition to the senate having been established only 2 years ago. The role of the caucuses is to allow members of the senate to come together on a particular issue or topic and to develop policy or propose items of relevance to that caucus to the wider senate.
Here are the current caucuses:
- Academic Affairs
- Student Life
- LEAD (Leadership, Engagement, Awareness, & Democracy)
- Sustainability Caucus
- Gender & Sexuality
- Cácas na Gaeilge
- Disability Caucus
How to Make a Caucus:
- Think of the purpose of your caucus.
- Find at least four other Senators to join your caucus.
- Name the Caucus
- Write three or more points that detail what you want to do in the caucus. This is called the ‘Statement of Intent’.
- Fill out the Caucus Recognition Form.
- Get each person to sign the Caucus Recognition Form, and then sign in the Caucus Promoter Space if you want to be the one to formally apply for caucus recognition.
- Send the completed Caucus Recognition Form, to the Clerk at email@example.com.
- The Caucus Promoter shall receive an email stating that the caucus has been either approved or rejected.
- Once approved, the Caucus Promoter shall arrange a caucus meeting in which a Caucus Leader must be elected first.
- Notify the Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org as to who the Caucus Leader of the caucus is.
The MSU Academic Assembly
The Academic Assembly is established by the MSU Constitution to provide a forum to discuss issues related to academic affairs, teaching and learning, and quality assurance, as well as areas that influence student learning, as they affect all students across the University so as to be in a position to advise the VP Education and the Union where necessary.
The Academic Assembly is split up into the three Faculties and these meet more frequently (at least 3 times a semester).
There shall be Faculty Assemblies to provide a forum for discussion on all issues of particular relevance to a particular faculty, including, but not limited to: academic programmes; all areas of teaching and learning; facilities; and all matters relating to the education, welfare and student experience of students in the relevant faculty.
There are three faculties:
- Arts, Celtic Studies and Philosophy Faculty Assembly
- Social Science Faculty Assembly
- Science and Engineering Faculty Assembly
- Student Academic Representation Review Committee
- Student Engagement & Feedback Committee
- Student Charter Committee
The Student Academic Representation Review Committee (SARRC) is established by the MSU Constitution and the Student Academic Assembly to review and advise the Vice President of Education on the effectiveness and development needs of student academic representation in the Union and the University.
The Student Engagement & Feedback Committee (SEFC) is established by the MSU Constitution and the Student Academic Assembly to review the mechanisms for students to provide feedback on the quality of their teaching and learning as well as the teaching and learning environment within the University.
The Student Charter Committee (SCC) is established by the Student Academic Assembly to review and develop the Student Charter.
The MSU Welfare & Equality Forum
The Welfare & Equality Forum is established to provide a forum for Welfare, Equality and Campaign related issues.
The Forum is chaired by the VP Welfare and Equality but is open to all students/members of the union.
The Welfare and Equality Forum will meet 6 times a year at least 3 times per semester to address issues of importance to students in the following key areas:
The Welfare & Equality Forum meetings will consist of ‘breakout rooms’ whether that is in-person in the Venue or online. These three breakout rooms will focus on; Welfare, Equality, and Campaigns and then will come together as part of a larger meeting to highlight the items and feedback discussed in those smaller groups.
From there issues raised at the Forum can be worked on by the VP Welfare & Equality or brought to other structures of MSU or MU.
The MSU Student Townhall
Definition: Town Halls are open to all students where they can come to ask questions, suggest ideas and overall where the President and the SU can be open and honest with students. Ideally held at the start of each month so that they can feed into policy making for that month in the various structures.
Frequency: These should be held at the start of each month to allow students to have their ideas, issues, collaborations or critiques aired and so they can input into the various structures of the union.
The all new MSU Student Townhall is a less formal/structured environment where any member/student can come and have their voice heard! The Townhall will hear comments, questions or critiques from the floor and allows sabbatical officers to respond directly to them and point out the plan of action to address students’ issues. This is a great opportunity to highlight our union's structures and show students how to use them.
The Townhall will be held virtually until it can be held in-person in the Venue but even then it will be Live-Streamed for students.
The MSU President and the Sabbatical officers must be in attendance however all elected reps are invited: PTO’s, Senators, Academic Reps, Student Supporters and Clubs and Societies.