President Deeks Considering a Campus Referendum on Latin in UCD Degree Ceremonies

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UCD President Andrew Deeks is considering putting the issue of whether to remove Latin from  college degrees and conferring ceremonies to a campus referendum.

 Today at a meeting of the UCD Governing Authority (GA) it was proposed the decision to remove Latin should be reconsidered by the college management.  

The Governing Authority met today at 11am, the GA is the board that must approve and note all major decisions or changes relating to governance structures in the university.

 The authority passed a proposal to ask UCD’s management to to “review” their decision to remove Latin from degree ceremonies a source confirmed.

But it can be revealed President Andrew Deeks is personally considering putting the issue to the student body in a referendum.

The controversial decision to change the traditional language of graduation ceremonies from Latin to English was taken last month. The idea was pushed through Academic Council by President Deeks without a vote. The Academic Council is another university board comprised of academics, student representatives and the President that makes decision on academic affairs. 

 The Latin issue was raised today at the GA today by Students’ Union education officer Lexi Kilmartin. A source within the meeting outlined that there was a somewhat heated debate on the issue, and a majority of academics were against the proposal to remove Latin. Most argued that Latin added an element of gravitas to graduation ceremonies for students, and that UCD was over one hundred years old and should be maintaining some of its historic traditions. All  major universities’ award their degree’s in Latin, and UCD would be the only university in Ireland to award their degrees in English if the change was brought in. 

 However, Governing Authority did not have the power to overturn the Latin decision as it wasn’t put before the authority for approval. The University Management Team (UMT) has decision-making power over practical issues and changes to how UCD is run, and is chaired by President Andrew Deeks. The removal of Latin was a UMT decision and the product of a sub-group set up by the college management to look at graduation ceremonies. Originally President Deeks it is thought was in favour of the change as international students would prefer their degree’s in English.

The source at the GA meeting today said that privately President Deeks felt now the issue “should be put to the student body” in a vote. This follows heavy pushback and criticism of the President’s idea to remove Latin by academic staff and the Students’ Union.

The last campus referendum held by the university was to make UCD a smoke-free campus in 2013, which passed. 

Student Accommodation Plans

Another source at the meeting confirmed the student accommodation masterplan was also discussed at the GA today. UCD’s accommodation plan over the next ten years is to double campus accommodation, adding 3,000 additional beds.

The source present in the Governing Authority meeting said if the 3,000 bed developments came to pass it would be great for the overall local rental market. Housing more students in accommodation on-campus would “alleviate pressure in the private rental market” around Donnybrook they stated.

 The first phase of the accommodation strategy is believed to be in the “planning stage” currently. UCD aims to go ahead with this initial building phase in late 2017, and it is expected to cost €182 million.

 The Students’ Union President Conor Viscardi confirmed the Res development “process is very much in the planning stage at present”.

 New accommodation blocs are envisaged to be built in the open fields behind the Law building and adjacent to the Centra store. To help finance more accommodation the university has argued that “higher increases” in Residences rent will be necessary. 

The total capital development budget for the ten-year Residences expansion is estimated by the university to be €370 million, a source of the college’s finance committee’s outlined.  

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Jack Power  |  Editor 

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