WHEN I meet Cian Ireland in the Meadow Bank pub, he’s just finalised his appeal against an eight-week suspension.
As a member of the Stirling 13, Cian has been disciplined for occupying the Cottrell management offices, which includes a ban on entering university grounds.
It’s an odd predicament for the union’s current housing officer but Cian is adamant it won’t prevent him from fulfilling the role once more.
“I’m rerunning because housing is a very important issue to me,” he begins.
“In my first year I lived in Ash [Andrew Stewart Halls] and had problems with affordability.
“I’m someone who gets quite a bit in student finance, so the idea that I couldn’t afford rent says a lot about the cost of living on campus.”
He talks expansively about solutions, referring to work he’s begun in his first year of housing officer.
“I have three key points [to my manifesto].
“Firstly, to continue to build a tenancy union.
“We have over a hundred members now which is impressive for something so new, and I just want to consolidate it and build a tenant protection unit within the tenancy union so that we can start taking direct action against landlords and the university when it decides to let down its members.
“I also want to continue work on a housing cooperative.
“It’s been slow but steady work. We’re in negotiations with student cooperative homes who are a potential funding body who could support us in building a housing cooperative.
“Finally I want to put together a letting agent watch group because I’ve realised a lot of letting agents have quite dodgy practices.
“There’s a lot of issues around it because we can’t actually tell students not to use particular letting agents because of competition laws, but my idea is essentially to look at common bad practices across letting agencies and use that information to inform student to watch out for this.”
His knowledge of the subject is evidently deep, having travelled to Edinburgh to observe the cooperative society’s housing model.
“It really inspired me to realise there’s much better ways of organising housing that doesn’t need a landlord, that doesn’t need a university.
“Students themselves can own the housing democratically and manage it themselves, and I think that’s a really inspiring model. So I wanted to try and implement that and I ran on that platform.”
Ireland’s suspension is still a issue on the minds of students, when asked about it he said,
“What I think would happen is I would be suspended for a bit. I’m not completely sure. No one is, it’s a bit vague at the moment, but I know if I’m elected, I will continue to do my duties as best I can.”
Ireland’s ban from campus may cause issues but he has found ways to resolve these,
“Well I’m currently not allowed on campus. What I’ve been doing is sending people on my behalf.
“I have a history of taking action on these issues. For example, last year I was on campus within an hour’s notice to defend a student was being evicted.
“I was able to support them to find a place for the night and argue their case to the porters.
“Right now I’m currently organising students in Lyon Crescent.
“The university is currently timing when hot water is on, which is very problematic if people are working and don’t fit into standard hours.
“The idea that people can only have a shower at a certain time is a disgrace.”
He discussed his current relationship with the students’ union while he is suspended,
“Its mostly quite good,” he nods. “A lot of them have been incredibly supportive.”
When asked about people who haven’t been supportive of him, he cheekily replies.
Voting opens at 9am on Monday March 9 and closes at 6:15pm on Tuesday March 10.
Students can vote on the student union’s website.