Last week, the Belfield campus saw the completion of the University College Dublin Students’ Union class rep elections, while Ireland moved to a 6-week level 5 lockdown. UCD reacted by announcing tighter restrictions on campus. Here is the biggest news of the 5th week of term!

Class Rep Elections Sees Just 37% of Places Contested.
UCDSU’s second round of ‘online elections’ took place on the 14th/15th of October with the election of Class Representatives for the upcoming year. While 223 students were nominated for Class Representative Roles almost 63% of Representative positions were uncontested from a wide variety of constituencies. Of the 27 contested elections, almost 60% were among the first-year cohort. On 15th October, election day was struck by technical issues affecting a selection of voters, with Campaigns and Engagements Officer, Leighton Gray noting that some students had reported being able to vote in constituencies that weren’t theirs. 

Tighter Restrictions Across UCD Following Nationwide Move to Level 5.
Following the announcement of a nationwide Level 5 lockdown last week, UCD has strengthened its existing Covid-19 policies. Face coverings are now required across all teaching and learning events, in all the libraries and internal public spaces of the campus for all members of the University community and visitors to UCD with small exceptions. Student accommodation will remain open with residents urged to stay indoors, not visit other households, and to only travel within 5km of their accommodation for exercise. James Joyce Library and study spaces will remain open to students, however, the government guidelines and UCD have not confirmed whether to travel to the campus for the purpose of study is deemed ‘essential’.

UCD COVID Test Centre Forces to Close at Weekends due to ‘Staff Shortages’.
The National Virus Reference Laboratory, the largest Covid-19 Swab test centre in Ireland located in UCD will not be able to process Covid-19 swabs for the next two weekends due to “Unavoidable staff shortages.” The news came less than 48 hours after ‘level 5’ of the government’s ‘Living With Covid’ plan came into effect nationwide. It is currently unclear as to why such shortages have come about.

The Reaction: UCD’s First Virtual Freshers Week.
Monday 12th of October saw the beginning of the first ‘Virtual Freshers Week’ in UCD, with societies swapping the traditional ‘Freshers Tent’ for a ‘Virtual Freshers Week Tent’ held via Zoom. New members of the UCD community were welcomed throughout the week at various events held across social media platforms, from ‘virtual coffee mornings’ to online debates and quizzes. Our reporter Eve Moore spoke to various society auditors amid reports of ‘minor support’ and lack of clarity from UCD’s Student Societies Council.

Gemma Farrell – Assistant News Editor