UCD is seeking proposals from private companies to run a new shop in the O’Brien Science Centre, and a large convenience store in Merville residences. While it hasn’t been officially announced by UCD, the College Tribune has seen a document which outlines UCD’s proposal for companies to bid for the contract.
The proposed location of this new shop in the Science Centre is Room E0.10, located on the ground floor of the South building. The room measures 43 square metres and is currently being used as seminar and classroom. Pi Restaurant has exclusive food and drink selling rights in the Science Centre and therefore this new premises will be permitted to provide only soft drinks, daily newspapers, snacks, confectionary along with limited stationary.
While it is not yet confirmed as to whether or not a shop will go into the classroom, concern has already been raised about the idea. Given its proximity to the SU shops and other outlets, repurposing a classroom to use as a shop in the Science centre would prove to ‘be an issue, especially as there is already a designated shop space in the science centre that is currently unused’, according to Lexi Kilmartin, UCDSU Education Officer. Kilmartin stated that Sean Kilgarriff, UCD Student’s Union College Officer for Science, would be better placed to offer an opinion, as he is more familiar with that area of campus.
Speaking to the Tribune, Kilgarriff questioned the necessity of the proposed new tuck shop. He mentioned that all the products the premises would sell were already available on campus in the SU shops and Centra and that therefore ‘there is no substantial need for such a tuck shop’. Kilgarriff went on to outline the facilities he believes the Science Centre is lacking in, and for which he is lobbying for, such as more seating, microwaves and other commuter related facilities. The Science Centre is also strict about student activities, and doesn’t allow student societies to book rooms for events in the building.
Kilgarriff was quick to say that if the tuck shop would benefit students in Science, or nearby buildings such as Agricultural or Computer science he would get behind it completely. On the other hand, he feels it could be disadvantageous to the students as classes are held in this room. ‘If it were to stop E0.01 from being used as a tutorial class room and resulted in students having to go to other buildings around UCD rather than staying in the Science Building, I would be less inclined to support it’ he concluded.
Spaces on campus that UCD lets or rents out to private catering or commercial companies provide the college with a substantial revenue stream that isn’t related to government or public funding, which has declined since the financial crash.
UCD have also opened advertising for a company to run a larger convenience store in Merville residences. The convenience store the college are looking to get a private company to run in the student residences it is believed is an attempt to alleviate the congestion and pressure on the current Centra store located there. The new store would be expected to provide a ‘diverse service’, including ‘frozen and fresh food, in addition to a take away coffee [counter], and deli counter’.
Although the advertising of the opportunity represents only the first stage in the process, so both the larger convenience store in student Res, and the tuck shop in the Science Centre may be some time away before coming to fruition.
Alison Graham | Senior Reporter