“I can guarantee you that if we were to do a survey of who your Ents Officer was this year, I’m pretty sure [knowledge] would go pretty high. Where the approval rating would be I don’t know, because of people’s different mixed opinions,” says Jonny Cosgrove.
Any conversation with the incumbent Ents Officer could not but turn immediately to the cancelled UCD Ball. Whilst negotiations with the University have resumed, at the time of going to press it seems likely that for many students the initial cancellation will define Cosgrove’s term.
“I was not happy about the way the situation was handled, but I will defend us to the end. If [the cancellation] was my fault, I’d be the first person to stand up and say it,” he insists. “People need people to vent on, I can take that I don’t mind.”
Cosgrove defended the decision to falsely claim there had a security breach arguing: “Anyone with a bit of cop on, I think, would have done the exact same thing.” Considering that the Union has often been criticised for an alleged lack of transparency, the wisdom of such a move is highly questionable. Furthermore Cosgrove’s contention that they could not release news of the cancellation on April Fool’s Day for fear of not being taken seriously appears a little inane.
However, he was adamant that he would do his utmost to rectify the situation: “I want us to have a Ball,” Cosgrove states. “If that means it’s going to be a slightly more hectic time for me, if the college play ball then I’m up to the challenge.”
Cosgrove ran uncontested for the position last year and believes that student familiarity with him may have impacted upon the reception he received. “I think expectations were a little high and it was up to me to have to try and take that. I think I performed to the best of my ability, I’ll be honest on that.”
One of Cosgrove’s main aims was to “bring back the Bar,” reinvigorating the venue by cutting costs. However, with the recent revelation of the bar’s economic struggles the impact of Cosgrove’s campaign can arguably be disputed. Despite the downturn, he remained optimistic about the future: “If we want the bar to continue, we need to keep the prices down, but we also need to get the students to get in behind it, otherwise I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen to it.”
Cosgrove’s highlights of the year included the success of Thursday Night Live, securing a deal with Vodafone to become UCD Ents largest sponsor, the return of the Fashion Show and his work on the creation of an Ents Forum in USI, which will shortly become a working group. The success of his Get Involved Initiative was another “win” for Ents, with over 400 people signing on to join the Ents Crew.
Cosgrove is adamant that he found the healthy balance between an on-campus presence and the necessary admin work: students who had difficulty contacting him may beg to differ.
He pinpointed the arrival of the snow and cancellation of the Christmas Ball as the low point of his year. “My entire second semester had to be completely redone,” Cosgrove explains. He argues that the necessity to reschedule led to the cancellation of plans to unite with Trinity College for a Dublin Rag Week, and that the financial loss at Christmas forced him to pull back on certain initiatives.
He also acknowledges the failure to properly launch the Ents website, which he had prioritised in his manifesto and was eager to dismiss the issues regarding excessive Ents texts as something which “comes up every year”. Cosgrove claimed that no Ents calendar was produced as clubs and societies failed to get back to him on time, whilst the Summer Sessions by the lake, which he promised, have been abandoned in favour of the Save Our Ball Campaign. If Cosgrove can save the Ball, he may save his legacy.
As regards his plans for next year, Cosgrove will finish his BA in History and Politics: “You don’t stay in UCD as long as I have and walk away without a degree, it’s just not on.”
(University Observer, April 2011)