Welcome to the 32nd Volume of The College Tribune. We are taking the reins of this prestigious publication from last year’s co-editors Rachel and Cian, in the hopes that we can match their fantastic performance (two student media awards and one successful impeachment), or at the very least, just keep this ship afloat.
As two politics aficionados, both in our chosen degree and Aaron in real life, we are waiting to see what cause might gain enough traction to engage the student body’s hive mind, like abortion did last year. Student life on campus during these past two semesters felt incredible politicised, as we witnessed the now infamous Ascough Fiasco to the divisive Repeal referendum. Hopefully, the high levels of student engagement seen on campus last year can be maintained, or even better, be spread across multiple issues; student fees, disability awareness, mental health and housing.
The Housing Crisis seems like the current frontrunner in the race to capture the students attention. The distinct lack of affordable student accommodation is an issue that has been boiling over for quite some time now, but the recent eviction of peaceful protestors from their occupation on Frederick Street by masked Gardaí brought the topic hurtling back to the forefront of people’s minds and social media feeds. (For more on this, read Ailish Brennan’s piece in this issue on her experience with Take Back The City or Conor Capplis’ feature on the catastrophe that is student housing.)
Constant construction on campus is a UCD stereotype, the sheer amount of building work taking place on campus this year will inevitably ruffle some feathers. It’s almost impossible to find a section of campus where you can’t see some building being reshaped, remodelled or removed. To learn more about a movement that has been somewhat invisible to students, read our piece on Professor Wolfgang Marx and the academics that are outraged by President Deeks plan to close their Common room, in favour of replacing it with a fee paying alumni club in the soon to be extended O’Reilly Hall. Perhaps, more urgently for students, there are whispered plans for a referendum on increasing the student levy to pay for an extension to the sports hall in the students centre. Who knows, this could be the money grab that finally galvanises the student body into fighting for cheaper education?
Mental Health is an almost constant concern for students these days. At the end of last semester, the waiting list for the college’s counselling services was 12 weeks long. A recent report in the UK found that 1 in 3 freshers students showed symptoms of mental illness, a staggering statistic. Though UCD did announce funding to hire four more counsellors at the beginning of the summer, this is not a solution, it’s a tiny step towards one. The recent rejection of student proposal to set up a Mental Health society has not given students much hope for the future of the college’s promotion of mental health. Needless to say, we will be watching the student union officers closely when mental health week comes near.
Our gracious leader, student union president Barry Murphy, is serving his second term (he’s one and a half way through really), as is our Graduate Officer Niall Torris, who ran uncontested for reelection last semester. But Barry has three new faces in his band of merry men. Thomas Monaghan comes to role of Campaigns and Communications Officer within out a real predecessor as the position was vacant in the post-impeachment team when Murphy musical chairs-ed his way from C&C to President mid-year. Melissa Plunkett is Welfare officer and Stephen Crosby is Education Officer, two roles that are arguably the more demanding of the four non-presidential positions. Regardless of the criticisms of the Union that are often so easily flung about, I’m sure that our new batch of sabbatical officers will do their best to solve the immediate problems students bring to them on a daily basis; the less newsworthy, but still significant efforts that slip below the radar of us lowly journalists. Whether this year’s union can work to solve the grander institutional problems of student life in UCD is another question altogether.
We’re pulling the focus of the paper back onto campus this year. In this issue alone you can find a guide to the best music nights out in town and a rundown of last week’s Law Soc Debate. You can celebrate the triumphs of the UCD soccer team in our Sport’s section or plan what you want to see at Dublin Fringe in our Arts section.
Our Arts editor Ailbhe Longmore and writer Richéal Ni Laoghaire have given this issue a strong feminist angle; read about the importance of the everyday female character, about the gender disparity in the production of contraception or a review of a badly received Netflix ‘chick flick’ that is actually social commentary on female sexuality.
See, it’s not all doom and gloom; plus we are far too young to be cynical in week two of semester one. Now is the time for lavishing in the spoils of free society goodie bags and naively complaining about how busy campus like it’s the most pressing issue facing students these days. Our office is a 1980’s time capsule in the basement of the Newman building. If you spot us in there working, and by working I mean listening to Florence and the Machine while finishing our fourth coffees of the day, feel free to come in and say hello.
By Muireann O’Shea & Aaron Bowman – CoEditors