Students have protested outside Thursday’s UCD Governing Authority (GA) meeting. Member of the Students’ Union, Fix Our Education UCD and Anti-Casualisation UCD organised a silent sit-down protest, in which they broadly obstructed the entrances of the GA meeting. The peaceful protest attempted to highlight students’ upset with the recent decision to increase on-campus rents. SU President Joanna Siewierska explained that they are protesting “to ensure that it’s clear to governors that we’re not happy with that decision.” The students, dressed in t-shirts labelled with “#notabusiness” and “STOP THE RENT INCREASE.”
After the SU provided coffee and refreshments for the would-be political activists, the students sat around the entrances to the Red Room in the UCD Student Centre. Signs were held up saying “STOP The 12%” and “#notabusiness”. The peaceful obstruction began shortly before the GA’s 11am meeting, with the 37 members intermittently arriving in awe and amusement of the student antics.
Though the GA did not make the decision to increase rents by 4% year on year for the next three years, totalling over 12%, the student groups were keen to show their opposition to the University Management Team’s (UMT) decision. SU Sabbatical Officers Joanna Siewierska, Brian Treacy, Úna Carroll currently sit on the UCD Governing Authority. The SU reportedly circulated their demands to GA members before the meeting, with a plan to discuss the rent hikes.
UCD President Andrew Deeks arrived shortly before the commencement of the meeting. After briefly speaking with SU President Siewierska and Graduate Officer Conor Anderson, Deeks meandered around the students to enter the meeting.
On Wednesday, the UMT sent a letter to the SU, outlining their reasons on why they are going ahead with the initial decision to increase rents. University President Andrew Deeks has said that “it is in the best interests of our community overall to proceed.”
In response to news that the UMT is not planning on reversing their initial decision, SU President Siewierska stated that it is her “sincere wish” that UCD and other Universities will retract the planned rent hikes around the country.
Ruairí Power, Co-Chair of Fix Our Education UCD, spoke to the Tribune regarding this decision: “I think the University has recognised at this point that students are well aware they’ve been cutting essential services. […] As the Students’ union have been saying very clearly, the University is not a business. They’re using students as a ‘cash-cow.’ They’re exploiting precarious workers and they don’t seem to take any ownership of that. They won’t acknowledge the gross misuse of funds that’s happened on campus. The fact that the University spends more on luxury flights than on student mental health, just absolutely sums up their distain for students, their complete indifference to the most vulnerable students who are struggling to get through college. It’s completely unacceptable. They’re not taking responsibility. We completely support the SU’s calls to escalate actions until they to take acknowledgement and reverse the cuts and misuse of funds.”
Sources suggest that there are plans in place over the coming weeks for further action within UCD and in other Universities nationally.
More to follow.
Conor Capplis – Editor