Various student groups have protested the recently announced rent hikes on campus. On Tuesday, February 18th, over one hundred students marched to UCD’s Tierney’s building. The protest coincided with a meeting of the University Management Team (UMT), who made the decision to increase the on-campus accommodation by 4% year on year for the next three years.
Students gathered in the Atrium of the Old Student Centre early on Tuesday morning. Led by UCD Students’ Union, Fix Our Education UCD and Anti-Casualisation UCD, students began marching towards the centre of Belfield campus at 9:30am.
When the group arrived at the building, students began chanting directly below the third-floor windows of UCD President Andrew Deeks’ conference room. While the chanting continued, six student leaders made their way to the UMT meeting. UCDSU President Joanna Siewierksa, Graduate Officer Conor Anderson and a representative from UCD Anti-Casualisation entered the UMT meeting. They were not allowed recording devices or photography. They read out a statement to President Deeks and his colleagues. The student leaders also submitted their demands and a petition signed with 2000 signatures to the committee. These demands included: an immediate retraction of the decision to increase on-campus rents, a reduction of on-campus accommodation rent and the establishment of a student rental-assistance fund for students on and off-campus.
UCDSU President Joanna Siewierska has said in a statement that the three student groups are “on a united front that the rent increase is unacceptable. Our rents are already way too high on campus and we also wanted to present the issues faced by casualised PhD labourers on campus.” She went on to say “we want to make it clear to management that the decision they took two weeks ago to increase the rent by 12% over three years has not gone down well with students at all. Not only were we locked out of that decision-making process, and our demands have not been responded to in two weeks, but this decision is going to continue crippling students who want to pursue an education here.”
When asked about the response from the meeting, Siewiersksa said “I asked for a formal response and we got a few words from our University President, just acknowledging our presence in the meeting. I would like to see a formal response from the University Management Team for our petitions and our demands.”
Adam Goodwin, a student currently living in Roebuck halls attended the protest. He had this to say about the rent increases: “It’s pretty terrible to be honest because the rents are still going up. I work two jobs at the moment and I still can’t afford to pay for the rent without my parents paying for at least some of it. Not every student is in the same position as I am. It’s such a terrible situation that some students won’t get access to education because they don’t have the funding from their parents behind them. I’m lucky to have it but not everyone’s in the same boat as me. That’s why we need to shut this rent increase down.”
Conor Capplis – Editor