University College Dublin (UCD) has introduced a mandatory COVID-19 student health declaration to which students must agree in order to register for the upcoming academic year. The Declaration states that as a student, you will follow both government and UCD COVID-19 health guidelines. It also requires students to observe that these guidelines may change over time and that it is their responsibility to keep up with the latest information.

Upon registering, students are presented with the following, “I declare that I will follow government and UCD guidelines related to reducing the spread of COVID-19. I understand that this is likely to change regularly so I will take personal responsibility for ensuring I am up to date with the latest information.” Students must agree to this before they can continue to register. The extent of the Declaration’s application is unclear as to whether it applies only to on-campus activities or also off-campus incidences. It is also unclear at this time what disciplinary action will take place, if students fail to adhere and whether or not it applies to staff.

Last week, NUI Galway introduced a similar COVID-19 code of conduct for students and staff named the ‘Cúram Dá Chéile’. It will be enforceable by disciplinary action. Speaking to The College Tribune, NUI Galway said that it is “a community promise to make a pact with society: that the university, its staff and students, will consider and prioritise the health and safety of those around us”.

Asked about the likelihood of student and staff adherence to the pledge, NUIG’s President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh responded that “Students are adults, with certain rights and liberties, and with those come responsibilities. The commitment is not without challenges, but it is our University’s strongly held belief that we must try. At times it may not work but we must use it as the basis for our actions for the collective good. It has the power to be a guiding light – for our university, as a civic institution, to show solidarity with the wider community and reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

President Ó hÓgartaigh also added that “Cúram Dá Chéile could be replicated and has invited other sectors of society and the economy to see if the community promise can be adopted or adapted and put in practice elsewhere.”

The College Tribune reached out to UCD for comment on the above, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.  

Angelina Pierce – Reporter