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Students protest library lockouts and Sunday closures

case serif;”>UCD students held a protest march against Sunday closures and access restrictions that have been implemented in the James Joyce library. The march took place on Thursday 18th October and included protests outside both the library and the Tierney building which houses the university’s administrative offices.

The protest was part of a campaign that is led by students against the closure of the library on Sundays for the first seven weeks of the semester due to budgetary cutbacks. The protest was also held on behalf of students who have been barred access to the library for not having fees paid on time despite the circumstances being outside of their control, due to delays on receiving grants or difficulties in affording to pay the full fees amount. The organisers used facebook, flyers and posters around campus to inform people about the event. UCD Students’ Union were not directly involved in organising the event, although the sabbatical officers marched in support of the protest.

The students involved gathered outside the student centre at 1pm on the day of the protest and marched on the library using banners and a megaphone to gather people’s attention on the issue. The students then seated themselves in the front of the library before a decision was made to march on the Tierney building, where the protesters where denied access by security. Throughout the event various speakers including UCDSU President Rachel Breslin, former SU employee Elizabeth Coote and International Students Coordinator Karl Gill spoke to the crowd about the effects that the restrictions where having on students.

Second year student Niall Dunne who helped organise the protest spoke to the College Tribune about the march stating that “there was a lot of passion there and people felt strongly about it. This is only the beginning. Until the library services are put back to normal, and students are able to use them, regardless of their financial situation we are not going anywhere. This is a university at the end of the day, an education institute. If they can’t give us fundamental services such as a library then they can’t call themselves an education institute. So we have to fight.”

Question’s where also raised during the protest over the Students’ Union’s involvement in the march. Niall Dunne commented on the SU’s involvement, saying “it’s great that the union got behind it, Rachel said a good few words and obviously seemed very passionate about it. They could have done more organising, but I have to respect them for coming out, it’s a big improvement on last year and hopefully they stick with it and keep building.”

The union are here to represent student interests on campus, and this is a massive interest for students. We really need the likes of the campaigns crew to be the ones out here leading the campaign and out here organising it, because that’s their area of expertise at the end of the day,” he continued.

SU Education Officer Shane Comer also spoke to the Tribune about the importance of the protest, saying that “The library is the key resource of any university. It is great to see that the students came out and showed their dissatisfaction. Students are here to study and here to learn, and they can’t do that without a library.”

When asked whether the Students’ Union could organise a campaign in the future and whether it could attract higher numbers Comer replied: “of course it will have to be discussed at Exec and discussed at Council. In terms of larger numbers, I am pleased with the numbers that came out today. No disrespect to the organisers, but the union would have a wider range of communication for this event. I would be hopeful, but of course we can’t guarantee numbers. It could be smaller than this for all we know.”

By Thomas Cullen

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