We are delighted to hear that OE Patrick O’Donnell has recently been elected President of the University of York’s Students’ Union. Patrick is studying Politics and International Relations at Derwent College and in his time as a student has been part of the Irish Society, Labour Club and Amnesty International Society as well as serving a year as Deputy Politics Editor for the student magazine Nouse.

Patrick was an outstanding pupil at Emanuel, winning the Headmaster’s Prize for Excellence for his role as Deputy Head Boy and his commitment to societies and fundraising. He was a member of the Charity Committee and one of the founders of the Gender Equality Society. As a rower he was awarded Boat Club Colours and was one of the very few pupils to be presented with the Gold Award for the Duke of Edinburgh. Not surprisingly, Patrick was a keen member of the Politics Society and was always engaged in debate with his peers and classmates. Coincidentally, one of his oldest friends from his early days at Emanuel, Ben Margolis, is the current President of Cambridge Student Union. During this period the Politics and History departments invited many top politicians and speakers to engage with the pupils, including OE Lord Peter Hain, who is pictured with Patrick and other pupils who studied politics.

In conversation Patrick recalled: “I remember how so many of my fellow Sixth Form students took an interest in the EU Referendum and 2017 election. It is great that Emanuel is such a community minded place and there are many people in my year group who will certainly be making a positive difference, maybe even nationally or internationally in years to come.”

Patrick’s priorities in his new job position include reducing the cost of living for students through tackling rising rents, working more closely with the Council and NHS to fix transport and healthcare access, and more widely to take student concerns both to University management and to the Government, through bodies such as the NUS.

Patrick also commented on the impact of Covid-19 on student life: “The current situation means some of these plans have changed. A huge focus for the autumn term will be about finding alternative ways for students to travel safely and how this fits with wider strategies in the city. Housing and rents will be a massive issue as many students will have reduced incomes due to the lack of part time work. However, there is also lots to be positive about – we have a huge range of plans to deliver Freshers’ Week in huge outdoor marquees.”

Congratulations on your new position! We are sure you will do a wonderful job.