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Student Levy Referendum: Vote No

The vote on the whether the students of UCD agree with an increase on the student levy is not as promised by the yes side an opportunity for the students to invest in the future of their campus but is actually an attempt by the university to place burden of payment for the debts accumulated by the current student centre upon us. Promises have been made about a whole new range of services that will become available to students if they vote yes in this referendum but nothing about why these services are not currently being provided by the Student Centre students are already paying a huge amount for.

 

In order to construct the new student centre in 2006 the student levy that was to be paid by the students was €63.50. This was intended and forecasted to pay off the debt of the building of the student centre, with the entirety of the UCD student body being able to use the facilities of this building. However, since 2006 there has been a 300% increase on the levy. Currently UCD students pay €254 a year in order to pay off these debts. Why has the burden of paying these debts been place upon the students of UCD, the majority of whom are already paying huge sums of money to merely be a student attempting to complete their studies in the university? After paying the high rents required to live near the campus or the cost of commuting for hours in order to attend classes and then paying the colleges fees and the massive cost of repeating a module or an exam, the idea that a student in UCD should be then bear the burden of the financial mistakes of the college administration is a disgrace.

 

Back in 2006, in order to justify the construction of the student centre, a top range of services and facilities were promised to the student body. Examples of such were unrestricted access to the gym and to the pool for all UCD students, modern offices for the Health Services on the second floor of the new centre and a space for club and societies to host their events. Yet since 2006, the levy has increased year after year and those facilities have not only not improved at all in the past ten years but have worsened in some aspects. For anyone even partially involved within the clubs and societies of UCD will know how exhausting it is trying to book a room for even just a coffee morning without being informed that the room has been booked by a private corporation. Our student centre that we have been paying for over ten years is not even ours to use. Nearly 7 million is paid by the students of UCD for this building every year and yet clubs and societies, which are one of the most integral aspects of what shapes students lives in this college, are forced cancel or negotiate for hours in order to simply host an event. The area which had been promised to the Health Services is either left completely empty or simply used as office space. A space fully available to help the mental well being of the student body is left to waste while the university now seeks to construct another building off the payments of the students.

 

UCD students are already forced to pay far too much in order to simply receive a third level education. For any student juggling their college studies, a part time job, their mental health, and support services being cut time and time again by austerity, this increase is an unbearable and unnecessary strain. We deserve the campus we have been paying for ten years. We deserve a UCD that puts the students first.

 

Rebuttal to Vote Yes Campaign’s arguments:

The side advocating Vote Yes to the referendum talks a lot about how students should feel pride for their college but neglects to answer whether the college is proud of us. In fact, they only talk about how we should care how the campus may look to outsiders, making sure the campus remains more profitable than other campuses but says nothing about whether the students today or next year, or the year after should have a campus that cares about them. What about the lives of the students currently attending UCD? How will these great inspirational students graduate from the UCD of the future if they can’t afford to attend the college in the first place? How will the students waiting for the construction of a building where they can express their creativity do so now as the current space is given away to private corporations? Why should students trust the yes sides’ promises when the same promises of 2006 have yet to be fulfilled? The yes side is correct that we should be proud to be going to UCD but not because it’s UCD. We should be proud because of the students and friends by our sides we see every day struggling to get an education in 2019. We see all of us take huge sacrifices to our lives in order to afford to go to college. We see the toil running societies puts on our friends as they battle the student centre to merely access a space intended for them. We see our loved ones bravely balance their mental health with their studies despite a crippled health service. The students united are what make UCD; the bonds that not only grow but flourish in spite of the hardships we face. We deserve a UCD for the students; not a UCD for profit.

 

By Stuart Scully – Vote No Campaign

 

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