UCD Students Union today hosted a Town Hall event to discuss the ongoing issues in student residences as a result of the ongoing construction of phase one of the residences master plan. Students in Merville, Roebuck and Glenomena accommodation had all reported that their study, sleep and health had all being affected by the ongoing construction.
Some students in the affected buildings, on an apartment by apartment basis, had received compensation from UCD Residences due to the disruption caused in the form of a 25% discount on the overall cost of accommodation for the year. This has not been distributed equitably amongst students, however, with only some students in each of the affected buildings being given it.
Many students at the meeting today reported being woken in the middle of the night by the sounds of generators, sirens or workers using loudspeakers. Several also reported that the lighting used to keep the site lit during the nighttime construction work kept them up as their rooms faced onto the site. Most notably students reported that they were frequently woken at 7am due to the use of heavy power tools and machinery, despite the fact that some had received assurances from UCD when they booked their accommodation that work hours were restricted to between 8am and 6:30pm.
A major concern highlighted be some students was the inability to open the windows of their rooms due to the volume of dust being produced by the construction work. One student reported that they had left their room window open for part of the day and returned to find the room covered in dust. Others reported that even if the windows were left closed that dust was still getting in via the air vents. One student noted that those with ongoing health issues were being particularly adversely affected by the lack of sleep and the high levels of dust and the UCD Health Services were unsure of how to assist students in this situation.
Many students were frustrated that they were unable to study in their own rooms due to the noise, with a number of final year students saying that they had moved onto campus specifically for their final year to reduce their commute times. Roebuck residences said that they were not able to avail of the study room in their accommodation due to the noise, and because of the existing strain on the library facilities, they were being left without a quiet place to study. A key selling point of the Roebuck accommodation is its private study area.
UCDSU Graduate officer Niall Torris told the meeting that when he was sitting on the Residences Review group last year, one of the specific requests that UCD had agreed to was to inform all students if they were to be affected by the construction when booking, and that they should be informed that was the reason that they were receiving a discount. This based on the testimony of students has not occurred, with many not being aware that there was construction taking place until they arrived on campus at the start of term.
UCD SU President Barry Murphy said that they were organising a campaign to address these issues, with a petition being circulated to highlight just how many students were being affected by the issue. He said that the construction company JJ Rhatigan were in breach of the planning permission by operating outside of specified hours and that he was seeking for UCD and the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown county council to enforce the permission. He went on to say that the SU was seeking for the discount to be extended to all the students in the affected buildings, alongside greater communication to residences, and improved access around campus while the construction was ongoing.
After suggestions from the floor, he also agreed that they would see about restricting the work hours during exams and reading week so that students studies were not further affected during that stressful time.
He called on students not to pay their next instalment of the payment to UCD residences which is due over the next week until the issue was resolved. He argued that ‘they are not going to come and kick out of the room’ given the number of complaints.
The College Tribune has contacted JJ Rhatigan building contractors, who are the lead contractor for the residences masterplan for comment.
By Aaron Bowman – CoEditor