Glenn takes over as new SU President
As Glenn McCourt takes over as Students' Union President at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) he is conscious that the nature of the college has changed enormously in recent years.
'DkIT has now become a commuter college so the big challenge is to get students to engage with the Students Union and to get involved in the social side of college life,' he says.
A scarcity of accommodation in Dundalk means that students are being priced out of the rental market as former student houses are now let to workers from companies such as PayPal, eBay and National Pen.
This means that the majority of students from outside of Dundalk travel on a daily basis from Monaghan, Cavan, Meath, Dublin and further afield. This sees 15 to 20 buses dropping and collecting students at DkIT every day and so many students are driving that there isn't enough car parking space.
The lack of affordable accommodation is high on Glenn's agenda and he was involved in USI's national campaign 'Raise the Roof' last year and plans on doing so again this year.
'We are trying to work with local landlords to encourage them to make accommodation available for students,' he says.
The high rental costs in Dublin also means that local students, who might previously have considered studying in the capital, now opt to go to DkIT and live at home.
For Glenn, however, DkIT was always his first choice as he has just completed the highly regarded culinary arts course, winning a number of awards during the process.
He is now looking forward to getting involved in student union politics on a full-time basis.
This year he will have the support of not one but two vice-presidents as a chance to the constitution at the end of February paved the way for three sabbatical SU officials for the college.
Fellow Dundalk student Criostoir O'Neill will be in charge of student engagement while Taidgh Kavanagh is looking after student welfare.
There are around 5,000 students attending DkIT - the equivalent of a small town and Glenn would like to see them getting more involved in college life.
'Because so many of them are commuting they aren't able to engage with college activities and miss out on the social side of college,' he says.'We will be looking at organising events during the day for the students who commute and who can't go out at night.'
DkIt is now a truly multi-cultural college with overseas students coming from many countries and Glenn says he wants to represent students 'from all backgrounds, ages and race'.