It is hard to believe it folks but we are at week four already. Although, you would be excused for feeling like we are still in that ‘getting settled’ period of week one or two. As you sit in a lecture tussling elbows with the person sitting next to you it can feel like this are almost back to normal. Our poor friends in Trinity College are still learning behind a computer screen. So, lucky us right? Well, not quite.
What UCD has delivered in terms of learning, they have failed in so many other areas which make up just as much of what it means to be a college student. It is perhaps best summed up by the thousands of students who filed out of lectures only to be expected to log on to their devices to attend a virtual freshers week. Clearly, that’s how students are viewed in UCD and it is just that… ‘students.’ Not young people who are eager to make friends, get involved and do so much more in these important years than sit in a packed lecture hall.
Loneliness and isolation are common feelings among the residents of Belfield. Erasmus students are often shocked by the social life of other universities, usually organised and encouraged by the university itself. In UCD this has not been the case. While recent attempts to create a more social student experience for residents are positive, it is the bare minimum given the extortionate prices for accommodation.
So what is the university’s plan to facilitate a vibrant social scene for all students? The strategy in place is to leave it up to societies. By this, we don’t mean provide societies with the necessary resources, rather societies are not given the guidance, support or funding to manage the task alone.
With a student population of 33,000, running events for so many people does not come free, just ask any societies treasurer! Unfortunately, there is no such this as free pizza. Proper and adequate funding is essential if we are to task societies to spearhead the social calendar of UCD students.
It also is so much more than funding. The empty tent in the Quad last week where the sports expo was flourishing the week before shows this. Guidance and good communication are just as important to help societies reach their full potential. So far this semester, societies are dealing with a lack of leadership and constantly changing COVID-19 regulations, making it impossible for them to hit the ground running and make up for a year of zoom coffee mornings.
Many of these issues have existed long before the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing restrictions are not an excuse. This is also the case for catering around campus. Lots of students hoped to christen the new college year over a pint in the clubhouse, but, were disappointed to see queues out the door. Of course, social distancing regulations have had a massive impact. However, pre-pandemic there was often a struggle to get a good spot for a pint. Queues have always been a fixture in the restaurants, bars and cafes on a campus that does not have the facilities to cater properly for so many students.
As loath as we are at the College Tribune to praise DCU or worse still, Trinity, but the fact is they hold the bragging rights over us when it comes to our respective student bars. Something which we at the Tribune take very much to heart.
Of course, we are delighted to see so many back in Belfield. As some students in Ireland still attend lectures on a zoom call we can be happy to be back to lectures. But, there is so much more to a student than attending lectures and there is so much more to a college or university than teaching. It is in all these other areas that UCD has failed its students before and continues to do so.
College Tribune Editorial Board