UL Student Union rebrand sparks controversy

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A rebranding of the University of Limerick Students Union has caused widespread outrage among the student body.

The change of name to UL Student Life followed a research study conducted by fourth-year business students concluded that the term ‘union’ was responsible for a lack of student engagement with the organisation.

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Since the name change was revealed on social media, students and alumni have been openly critical for a number of reasons, ranging from the waste of money involved in the rebranding exercise to the ‘sticking plaster’ approach of changing identity rather than solving internal problems

An estimated €20,000 will be spent on implementing the re-brand.

Declan Mills, a PhD student and former vice-president of the Postgraduate Student’s Union, has been heavily involved with the union during his time at UL. He is one of the students who are critical of the change:

Writing on his blog, he commented: “I was on the SU Executive that shot down a variation of this idea – from the same branding consultants – in May 2017, and I was very uncomfortable when I saw that the rejected idea had been brought back to the new executive as early as September 2017.”

Speaking to the Limerick Post, he said: “Changing the name of the union and pivoting its marketing strategy somewhat won’t change the feelings of students who find representative work alienating.

“I know that various sabbatical officers and the union’s own communications office have tested several engagement initiatives over the past few years, and I’m fully aware that even with the re-brand, those guys are working on rolling out more plans to actively demonstrate the value of the union to students and give them a chance to feel like they have a voice in what happens.

“That would be a far better use of €20,000 than slapping a new name over the front door. As for the survey respondents who said that they felt the word ‘union’ and concept of having a union wasn’t for them, perhaps they would be better off being educated on everything trade and student unions have done for them, from the minimum wage to the abolition of tuition fees, rather than having their self-imposed apathy pandered to.”

However, newly elected UL Student Life President Ciara Jo Hanlon said that they were and would always remain a representative body for students.

“However we have become so much more. Under the umbrella of UL Student Life, you still have the ULSU as the representative body, clubs and societies, student supports  and services and student event and engagement all of which are represented by our mascot, the wolf.

“This, we hope, will give students a sense of belonging and pride. We want to show the students of UL how we have evolved as an organisation and show them that there is something for everyone here in Student Life.”

“Before taking up the position, I was sceptical when I originally heard about the change. I
asked the usual questions of ‘why? What would it do?’

“But since starting my term in office, I can honestly say I think it is the correct decision. My understanding of the organisation and what it does has grown and I think the old name of Students Union did not adequately describe the evolving organisation. UL Student Life does,” she concluded.